Have you ever walked into the office and noticed it’s eerily quiet? Your staff isn’t normally very loud, but this is “what are the ‘kids’ getting into” quiet. 

As you pass by one employee sitting at their desk, you find the culprit: They’re scrolling through social media on their phone. You look around and soon realize that the rest of your team are all scrolling on their phones, laptops and even smartwatches. 

It’s no secret that technology can cause a large amount of wasted time in the workplace, but since smart devices aren’t going away anytime soon and we need to use technology for work, what’s an employer to do to keep their staff happy and productive? 

 

Here’s where happiness (at work) comes from: A study by The Energy Project and Harvard Business Review recently uncovered the four primary needs employees yearn to have met at work. They are:

Mental

Emotional

Physical

Spiritual

When your employees feel that they are thriving in these areas, their happiness increases and they are more satisfied at work. Happier employees lead to a better work environment and increased productivity.

The enemy: tech and social media. 

They have exploited these basic fundamental needs and turned technology against us by making us less productive and less connected at work and home. The internet promises us deeper relationships, but in reality, we often fall into the dark hole of endless scrolling, even at work. 

 

Don’t fight the bad behavior; leverage it to further your business and your staff’s expertise: Your employees are already using the internet and social media at work, so instead of fighting it, use it to your advantage by introducing alternatives that will benefit your company and satisfy their emotional and mental needs. 

A study by the Pew Research Center found that, regardless of workplace policy, 77% of employees use social media to solve work-related problems and build connections to co-workers. 

You can reclaim time spent wasted on social media by creating online peer groups, meetup groups and forums on Reddit related to your industry. LinkedIn is a social media platform where businesses create relevant groups, post articles and congratulate employees on their achievements. 

Employees can cultivate a deeper sense of professional community and solve work problems collaboratively by using programs that have instant messaging like Microsoft Teams and Slack.

 

Foster employee happiness through technology: One of the most important things to remember about technology is that there’s a healthy way to use it and an unhealthy way. Tech is a tool that can cause wasted time at work, but when used correctly it can boost your employee’s happiness. 

Here’s an example: A large percentage of working adults have young children. A recent Lenovo study found that 78% of them felt that staying connected to their kids through technology like text messages and home automation satisfied an emotional need.

Since staying connected to family and fostering healthy co-worker relationships are key components to employee happiness, it’s to your advantage to sanction these uses of technology at work so you can become an active part of meeting your team’s core needs. Bonus: You don’t actually have to adopt any new technology or equipment to do it!

Encouraging healthy technology use in the office is a simple change that can lead to happier employees and a better workplace.

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Patrick Holland is president and CEO of Varay, an El Paso-based IT company.

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