New research from RingCentral reveals that a third of Gen Z and Millennials in the UK are unable to fully focus on spending time with loved ones due to an increase in work notifications. Dubbed ‘Alert Anxiety’, the study highlights the stress caused by work notifications, comparable to the fear of spiders, bugs, and dentist visits.
This growing issue is exacerbated by a culture of always being “on”, with many workers feeling pressured to respond to notifications outside of work hours. The findings suggest the UK may need to consider implementing ‘right to disconnect’ regulations.
- Increased work notifications are impacting a third of Gen Z and Millennials’ time spent with loved ones.
- Work notifications are causing anxiety and stress for British workers, particularly younger ones.
- The UK may need to consider ‘right to disconnect’ regulations to support employees and maintain productivity.
Alert Anxiety: The Hidden Cost of Out-of-Hours Notifications
The UK workforce is grappling with an escalating issue of work notifications disrupting their personal lives. As the festive season approaches, the question looms: will the Brits be able to truly disconnect from work?
Work Notifications: An Unceasing Tide
The influx of work notifications is a growing concern, with 31% reporting an increase in out-of-hours notifications over the past year. Employees are feeling the strain, with 14% feeling compelled to respond immediately, and a further 33% feeling the need to respond within an hour. The sheer volume of alerts is inducing anxiety, akin to that caused by spiders and bugs (54%), and nearly matching the dread of a dentist visit (59%). Particularly concerning is the impact on younger workers, with 32% of those aged 21-34 admitting that these notifications prevent them from fully focusing on time spent with loved ones.
The “Alert Anxiety” Epidemic
Our research shows that over half of employees (52%) are juggling six or more apps during a typical workweek. Increased app usage has led to a surge of notifications, causing annoyance (24%), anxiety (23%), and stress (21%) for a fourth of UK workers. The younger workforce seems to bear the brunt, experiencing amplified levels of anxiety (27%) and stress (26%) upon receipt of workplace notifications.
Struggling to Switch Off in a Non-Stop Culture
Exacerbating the alert anxiety is the rise in out-of-hours work notifications, reported by 31% of UK workers. This pressure increases amongst younger employees, with nearly a third (30%) feeling the need to respond promptly, compared to just 14% of those aged 55-65.
This constant connectivity results in 63% of workers carrying work home, checking notifications outside of working hours. Amongst Gen Z and Millennials, this figure rises to two-fifths. The increased notification volume is also impacting downtime, with 49% of workers feeling as though they’re always at work, even when off the clock.
Could the UK Adopt a ‘Right to Disconnect’ Policy?
This research highlights the mounting pressure felt by UK workers due to incessant notifications and an enduring need to be accessible. A staggering 54% of Brits admitted they plan to work in some capacity during their 2023 holidays, including reading emails and chat messages.
Countries like Belgium, France, and Portugal have recently introduced ‘right to disconnect’ laws, designed to mitigate workplace fatigue and anxiety. These laws allow employees to completely disconnect from work outside of normal working hours. The data suggests that the UK might benefit from considering similar regulations.
“Communications is and will continue to remain at the heart of every business. In the new era of work which continues to shift due to external factors, work and life boundaries are blurred more than ever before. Communication and collaboration tools have flooded the workplace, which is heightening negative feelings of anxiety, annoyance and stress. This is taking its toll on workers, who are unable to disconnect. As we approach the holiday period and new year, if businesses want to succeed at solving the productivity puzzle, they must take a proactive approach in adopting tools that consolidates cross team communication efforts, alongside, adapting their culture and updating their working policies to support employee wellbeing.” – Steve Rafferty, VP International at RingCentral
The impact of relentless work notifications on UK employees is concerning. It’s high time for organisations to recognise the toll this is taking on their employees’ mental health and personal lives. As we move into the holiday season and the new year, businesses should strive to find a balance between productivity and employee wellbeing. This could involve adopting more consolidated communication tools, adjusting company culture, and considering the adoption of a ‘right to disconnect’ policy. By doing so, businesses may find themselves leading the charge in redefining the new era of work.
Q: What is the impact of increased work notifications on work-life boundaries?
A: The impact of increased work notifications is that 32% of those aged 21-34 are unable to fully focus on spending time with loved ones.
Q: How do work notifications affect employees?
A: Work notifications cause annoyance, anxiety, and stress for employees. More specifically, 24% of British workers experience annoyance, 23% experience anxiety, and 21% experience stress when they receive a notification.
Q: How do work alerts and notifications compare to other sources of anxiety?
A: Work alerts and notifications cause the same amount of anxiety for Brits as spiders and bugs (54%) and almost as much as going to the dentist (59%).
Q: Are Brits receiving work notifications outside of working hours?
A: Yes, 31% of Brits say that they are receiving work notifications outside of working hours, which has increased.
Q: Are younger workers more affected by the pressure to respond to work notifications outside of working hours?
A: Yes, younger workers feel more pressure to respond to work notifications outside of working hours. Almost a third (30%) of younger workers feel this pressure, compared to only 14% of those aged 55-65.
Q: Do workers bring work home with them by checking notifications outside of working hours?
A: Yes, 63% of workers bring work home with them by checking notifications outside of working hours. This is especially true for Gen Z and Millennials, with two fifths of them checking their work notifications out of hours.
Q: Do increased work notifications impact time spent with loved ones?
A: Yes, a third (32%) of Gen Z and Millennials say that increased work notifications have impacted their ability to fully focus on spending time with loved ones.
Q: Are there any countries that have implemented ‘right to disconnect’ laws?
A: Yes, Belgium, France, and Portugal have recently implemented ‘right to disconnect’ laws to reduce workplace fatigue and anxiety. These laws give employees permission to disengage from work outside of their normal working hours.
Q: Should the UK consider implementing ‘right to disconnect’ regulations?
A: The findings from the RingCentral survey suggest that the UK may need to consider ‘right to disconnect’ regulations in order to support employees and maintain productivity.
Q: What is the research methodology for this study?
A: Ipsos surveyed 1,500 UK residents aged 21-65 who are currently full-time workers. The surveys were conducted in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia from 18 July to 1 August 2023. The survey data were weighted to adjust for age, gender, and regional distribution with a margin of error of +/- 3%.