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Technology Is the Root of Employee Unhappiness

Technology Is the Root of Employee Unhappiness
Credit: Stokkete/Shutterstock

If you've noticed that many of your employees are less than enthusiastic about work and have been underperforming lately, it's very likely that you've got an unhappy team on your hands.

When you're dealing with low morale, it's important to get to the root of the problems and address them so your employees can be at their happiest and most productive. Teem, a provider of cloud-based meeting tools and analytics, recently released its Employee Happiness report, which revealed that, despite technology's advantages in the workplace, it is also at the root of many modern workers' woes.

"New technologies are rapidly overhauling everything about how we work. Businesses must remain flexible to keep pace," said Shaun Ritchie, CEO and co-founder of Teem. "Our data … shows the value of having proper equipment, usage guidelines and training to avoid burnout."

Here are some of the top tech-related reasons today's employees aren't happy, and what you can do to fix them. [Want to make employees happier, but don't have the budget for raises? Try these tactics.]

Employees tend to feel burned out if they are sensing a lack of appreciation from their managers, or if they have a poor work-life balance. Millennial employees in particular are feeling less fulfilled because of poor work-life balance and a lack of recognition for a job well done, according to the report.

Nearly half of the survey respondents said today's communication tools make them feel obligated to respond to colleagues regardless of where or when they get messages. A lot of employees feel like they always have to be "on," whether that means always being near their phones or computers to respond to calls and emails, or always being at the office to respond to a colleague. All generations surveyed agreed that this is their least favorite aspect of the modern workplace, and that it ultimately reduces happiness and leads to burnout.

Automation is on the rise in the workplace, and some workers are less enthused about this than others. Most millennials grew up with technology, so it should come as no surprise that more members of that generation are excited about the possibility of AI-fueled solutions entering the workplace than boomers (58 percent versus 33 percent).

The report also breaks down some emerging tech entering the workplace, saying that millennials and boomers alike support digital assistants and augmented reality. However, 10 percent more men than women think that half or more of their work can be done through automation.

According to the survey, 40 percent of employees value flexibility through digital communication tools. They use the workplace technology offered to them but supplement it with their own. Forty-two percent said that in-person communication is their preferred collaboration method, with email in second and phone in third. Related to this, 38 percent of survey respondents said conflict resolution is "very important" to their happiness at work.

So how do you make your employees happier? Teem CTO and co-founder Zach Holmquist offered the following tips for employers:

Don't forget the people. People are social creatures who want camaraderie and a sense of belonging. For the workforce, liking the people you work with is one of the top factors leading to employee happiness, outranking both a good standing with management and a collaborative work environment as the top motivator, according to the Teem report.

Automate (but do it wisely). Organizations needs to ensure the right technology is there to make their workers' lives easier. However, tech should be implemented in a measured way that affords comfort – not a fear of displacement – to the employee.

Don't expect employees to be on call 24/7. Drawing boundaries on work-related communications leads to happier employees because they can be sure that supervisors, colleagues and clients don't expect an immediate response to texts or emails that come through after hours and on weekends.

Emphasize and respect time off. Time off should be treated as such. Organizations should do their best to leave employees alone during PTO and vacation. No one wants to feel nagged outside of the office. A crisis may occur, and there will be times where rules like these will have to be overridden, but employees will be much more likely to understand if they know that work communications during time off are for true emergencies only.

Jennifer Post

Jennifer Post graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. Having worked in the food industry, print and online journalism, and marketing, she is now a freelance contributor for Business News Daily and business.com. When she's not working, you will find her exploring her current town of Cape May, New Jersey, or binge-watching "Pretty Little Liars" for the 700th time.

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