United Kingdom

Smartphone fatigue affects scores of young employees

April 2018

A record number of young working people are struggling to switch off from work due to work-related calls, messages and emails accessed via smartphones received outside of the working day.

According to research carried out by Thumbtel which provides second mobile numbers for work, over half of the 1,000 employee respondents between 25-34 were said to be experiencing ‘smartphone fatigue’. 63 per cent said their smartphone created an ‘imbalance’ between work and personal life and an additional 56 per cent said they ‘regularly’ received work-related calls outside of office hours. Senior managers in particular were significantly more likely to receive work communications outside of working hours, with 71 per cent receiving calls, messages or texts from work during evenings, holidays or weekends.

And while some respondents said they’d attempted to improve their work-life balance by having different smartphones for work and personal use, a significant 73 per cent said they ‘struggled’ to manage all communications on one phone.

Rachel Western, Principal at Aon Employee Benefits, warned that the ‘negative impact’ of poor work-life balance could result in a number of health-related issues including stress, depression and drinking issues “These conditions are not only detrimental to the health of an employee but could lead to more serious health issues and to the company, in terms of turnover, longer term absenteeism and rising health costs,” she said.

In February, Personnel Today published research by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare which found that employers on average were estimating that around two-thirds of their workforce were ‘smartphone users’ despite just 25 per cent of companies providing eyecare for all smartphone users.

While smartphone fatigue appears to be symptomatic of the modern, ‘always on’ workplace culture, work-life balance issues in general continue to affect huge numbers of employees. Research by global IT accessories provider Targus revealed that just one in four European firms value the work-life balance of their workforce. In particular, over half of Europeans polled said they struggled to fit in exercise around their working day and two in five said their company didn’t provide user-friendly workspaces such as standard desks, tailored seating and adjustable screens. A third of UK workers said their employer didn’t encourage flexible working at all.

Western added: “Working lives are becoming so much a part of our personal lives. It is essential that companies wanting to attract and retain the best employees, and keep them productive, must consider more flexible work options to allow employees to split their work and personal lives into manageable zones as oppose to a rigid working day zone. We all have different demands on our lives and having the ability to structure our working lives around these demands should be encouraged by employers.



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