The rapid digitalization of work environments means employees are obliged to work faster and better. Achieving this means businesses are dependent on having happy, healthy, productive teams. 

With 69% of global knowledge workers now working remotely, it appears hybrid working is working. A recent survey of over 10,000 employees by Ivanti shows that 42% have a better work-life balance and 33% are more productive. 

Having the right IT tools is essential for employees to work effectively in a digital environment. According to the Ivanti survey, 65% of employees and 71% of IT professionals said that they could be more productive if they had different tools. 

It is the responsibility of the organization to ensure employees have the right equipment, training and support to be able to do their jobs. 

When organizations deliver a positive digital employee experience (DEX), business outcomes are met. The survey found that good DEX improves employee satisfaction, increases productivity – ­on average job satisfaction boosts productivity by 31% – creates better collaboration and improves employee well-being. 

The dark side of a negative DEX 

However, when DEX is negative, productivity, morale and retention suffer. Nearly half (49%) of the workers surveyed by Ivanti consider the digital tools and environment provided by their organization frustrating. And, even more alarming, a quarter consider a lack of suitable tech to be a contributing reason for quitting their jobs.  

Additionally, the omnipresence of devices and uninterrupted access to the Internet often make it difficult for employees to switch off. This has led to an increase in digital burnout.

Digital burnout occurs due to spending large amounts of time on digital devices. The demand to be permanently online is associated with high levels of tension, perceived expectations and discomfort – all of which can lead to work-related stress.

Evidence suggests that individuals experience stress when they find themselves unable to accomplish what is expected of them using technologies within a particular environmental context. In fact, the definition of work-related stress is “the imbalance between external demands and individuals’ capabilities and resources (tools) to meet those demands.”

According to the Health and Safety Executive website, work-related stress is a huge cost for organizations, causing the loss of over 15 million days of work, and costing UK organizations over £5 billion annually. 

This is not just a UK phenomenon. The American Institute of Stress reports 83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress, which is a contributing factor to mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Research in 2020/21 by the Health and Safety Executive found that work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 50% of all work-related ill health

Why organizations need to act on improving DEX 

These facts highlight that it’s in the organizations’ best interests to protect their employees from work-related stress, not only for financial reasons, but morally and legally too.

The good news is, by taking the right steps to support employees and provide the right tools, organizations can significantly reduce the risks of work-related stress and digital burnout. It is vital for organizations to understand the factors that are affecting digital well-being and the steps that can be taken to maximize the well-being of remote employees. 

It is important for organizations to realize that employee well-being and DEX are not mutually exclusive. Every time an employee uses tech, that is DEX in action, and whether that experience is positive or negative influences the employee’s well-being. Initiatives that improve DEX will help prevent stress, digital burnout and increase staff retention. 

“Technostress,” defined by Craig Brod as “ineffective coping with technology that results in distress,” can increase as complex technologies are integrated. Research shows that technostress affects job satisfaction, organizational commitment and employee outcomes such as absenteeism and staff turnover. 

How to deter digital burnouts

However, digital burnout is decreased by interventions that optimize technology, reduce documentation and task time and improve processes to enhance workflows. This means with proper use, adequate training and peer-to-peer support, work-related technostress can be reduced.

Organizations should aim to be proactive, instead of reactive, when preventing work-related stress and digital burnout. This largely relies upon supporting employees to be the best they can be, by providing them with the necessary tools.

With poor DEX cited as one of the main causes of resignation, organizations need to take a good, honest look at their DEX, to see where improvements can be made. Senior leaders must act now to ensure employee well-being and the digital employee experience are being prioritized.

How do you get started on the road to a great DEX? Check out our eBook to learn more.