I was fired by an email
According to an Ofcom report released in the summer of 2018, we are spending on average 24hours a week hooked up to the internet, more for certain age groups, up to 34.3hours for 16-24 yr olds. Looking around the train carriage this morning and it is easy to think this might be a little on the light side, especially as virtually every single person was on their phone or a laptop – me included.
This isn’t a post bashing the use of technology, and I don’t want to be critical of it. We all need it. Many work functions are impossible without it. It can and does save time and money in the quick transfer of information which avoids all sorts of costly alternatives.
But… I can’t help but feel that at times we are replacing an opportunity to have a rich and engaging, thoughtful interaction with our fellow human by spinning out a quick email instead. People are sitting not two feet from each other in offices where they are choosing to email each other rather than talk. Just yesterday we heard about Jamie’s Italians chain folding and the remark by some was that they were fired by an email out of the blue. How can this be acceptable? What are business leaders thinking when they allow a culture that advocates face-to-face interaction to be replaced by an impersonal email - especially at a time when people might need support or reassurances on receipt of unexpected news.
This country is facing a mental health crisis. So huge is the problem we’ve not really got a full measure of it yet. Workplace culture has its part to play in this epidemic, but culture is also a vital part of tackling this problem. This isn’t about fruit bowls and bean bags. This is about leaders taking responsibility for their people in a way that ensures they treat them in a respectful and dignified manner. What businesses need right now is more rich and meaningful conversation with its people, not more and more remote communication that is replacing the human voice. Voices that need to be heard if we are to crack this growth problem of poor mental health in our workplaces.
The irony is not lost on me that I am typing this on a computer and that you are having to read this on an internet connected device! It is however a step toward in encouraging you to seek a discussion, in person, with me or with one of the many other people who really want to make a positive change to people’s lives at work. People who care about helping businesses and leaders prevent and tackle the problem of poor mental health, which when we do, we make us all richer – in every sense of the word.