Sue Parks - Learn to leave your phone in the other room so you can both recharge Featured

6:03am EDT October 30, 2013
Sue Parks, WalkStyles Inc. Sue Parks, WalkStyles Inc.

We had a client recently ask that we send out our daily wellness tip and goal later in the morning. This email is designed so that when you wake up, you can see your wellness goals for the day. Of course, I am always trying to be responsive to our customers, so I started to look into it from the technology side.

Then, I realized the real issue: She was sleeping with her phone! The client got a beep for every new message received. The email we send goes out at 5 a.m. EDT and she lives in Colorado! Our helpful hint turned out to be an annoying 3 a.m. wake-up notice. 

As with most wellness issues, a behavior change was needed.

Recharge and see the benefits

Sleep should be sleep. Unless you are on call to save lives, save your own. Get eight hours of rest. Recharge yourself while your smartphone does the same — in another room.

As the CEO, you can take the first step to help. If employees are on vacation and they email back immediately to a group email, let them know that you would prefer they relax and enjoy their vacation.

And, before you send a text message to the person on vacation, ask yourself if it’s really necessary. Create a culture that respects a person’s time off and have the rest of your senior team follow suit.

Go to most any meeting and at least 50 percent of people in the room are checking their smartphones while the speaker is talking. As leaders, we need to set a tone and manage expectations. If the senior team isn’t paying attention, the rest of the workforce won’t either. 

“Presenteeism” (employees being at work but distracted) is a huge part of the billions lost each year in productivity due to health and wellness issues.

Here are five ways we can change this problem:

  • Have a wellness program that engages people in all aspects of their health.
  • Offer “mindfulness” classes to help employees learn to focus on the present.
  • At meetings, consider checking smartphones at the door.
  • Let vacations be vacations.
  • Create a standard expectation for responsiveness in your corporate culture. This starts with you and your leadership team.

Why is this important?

The dollars lost from employees not being “present” is huge. But, you also need to help employees find balance in their lives. If you don’t, the good ones will leave. And, the not so good ones will hang on and go online to shop, tweet and do whatever while they should be working. There is also the somber side. You don’t want an accident on your hands due to an employee texting while driving or using company equipment.

Feel free to reach out to me with your questions. I can be reached at sue.parks@walkstyles.com. Since my iPhone recharges downstairs while I sleep upstairs, I will respond to you in the morning.

Sue Parks, a former top-level executive with USWest, Gateway and Kinkos, is a corporate wellness expert. She is the founder and chief executive officer of WalkStyles Inc., based in Irvine, Calif., and co-author of “iCount, 10 Simple Steps to a Healthy Life.” For more information, visit www.walkstyles.com.