Take time to tame your workplace technobeast

    Labour Day weekend a great time to take a total break from the office

    TORONTO, Aug. 31 /CNW/ - Is your PDA a blessing or a bully? Do you talk
more with your cellphone than your spouse? With more people tied to the office
through electronic links, anxiety levels can rise with a ring.
    "If you've been wearing your Blackberry 24 hours a day, this last summer
long weekend is a good opportunity to start changing your techno-work habits
ahead of the fall," says Rod Phillips, CEO of Shepell.fgi, Canada's largest
provider of workplace health programs. "Because most businesses ramp up again
in the fall, it's a smart time to start putting limits on the culture of
having to be in constant contact with the office."
    "More and more people say their electronic devices are stressing them
out: Rather than a good tool to keep in touch in case of an emergency, for
many people they have become a trigger for anxiety."
    A recent study by MIT's Sloan School of management saw 90 per cent of
participants reported feeling some degree of compulsion to check their PDA.
The study further found that senior managers were responsible for establishing
patterns of constant contact that their subordinates then adopt.
    "Companies have concerns of rising costs of absenteeism and short-term
disability, and we know that anxiety is the root of a number of these cases.
Often times this anxiety comes from the severe case of information overload
this kind of constant work behaviour brings."
    Because of the influence of managers in this behaviour, Shepell.fgi
recommends specific policy development, particularly in the case of people who
may work remotely or in critical corporate roles. Some also might consider a
training program to help both employees and managers develop time management
skills and create a corporate culture of work-life balance.
    "Managers connected to workplace through PDAs and email 24/7 have to set
parameters to ensure that they get a break both for themselves and their
reports," said Karen Seward, Shepell.fgi's Senior Vice President of Business
Development and Marketing. "We are seeing increases in access to our services
where people cite anxiety related to feeling unable to ever be disconnected
from the office."


    Tips to manage technostress include:
    -   Initiating corporate policies that stress there is no expectation of
        immediate response to after hours emails or calls
    -   If a critical department needs to be in constant contact, create
        "on call" shifts for employees
    -   Encouraging your employees to turn their devices off on weekends and
        put them to "sleep" an hour before bedtime
    -   Leading by example, not sending or responding to emails after
        business hours
    -   Limiting the number of cc's on emails and avoiding sending
        unnecessary emails

    Shepell-fgi is Canada's leading provider of workplace health services,
including prevention-focused Employee Assistance Programs. The company
services over six million employees and their families across Canada, the
United States and internationally. Shepell-fgi helps organizations maintain
healthy employees and healthy workplaces.

For further information:

For further information: Rosalind Robertson, Manager, Media Relations
and Corporate Communications, Shepell-fgi, rrobertson@shepellfgi.com, (416)

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