The fear of missing out (FOMO) in relation to social media is a well-documented phenomenon. We all know the symptoms: that gnawing feeling that there’s something really cool happening that we’re not party to, which in turn drives us to regularly check for updates on our social media feeds. It’s a compulsion, almost an addiction, and it means that we’re pretty much connected all day long. Now while you may think FOMO doesn’t apply to you – you’re a rational person who doesn’t have social media envy and you’re not driven to check Facebook 24/7 – there is a new variation and that is FOMO in the workplace. In this article, we look at what FOMO is as well the implications for employers, particularly those with cloud intranets that enable staff to be connected outside of standard operating times.
What Is FOMO?
FOMO is almost a psychological dependence with sufferers experiencing severe anxiety, unhealthy internet usage and a disconnection from reality. They have a very real fear that not only are they failing to keep up with the Jones’s in terms of how exciting their lives are, they also feel that they are being kept out of the loop about social events and interactions.
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary (yes, it is an entry!), FOMO is that uneasy feeling that you’re missing out on social events. It’s come about since the rise in social media usage, especially Facebook, which has documented our lives for all the world to see, or at least a wide network of our friends, family and acquaintances. Modern technology in the shape of smartphones, tablets and apps means that social media can be a constant presence in our lives and in an idle moment many of us can be seen checking our Facebook or Instagram feeds while waiting for that takeout coffee or for the train to pull into the station.
Increasingly, FOMO issues are being seen within the workplace too. In the same way that smartphones and tablets are keeping us connected to the world of social media, so they are also keeping us connected to the world of work, especially with a cloud-based intranet. So not only are employees feeling bad that their social lives are below par, they are also feeling increasingly anxious that their careers are below par too.
FOMO in the workplace manifests itself with compulsive email checking, constant logging onto the company intranet and checking for updates, the inability to say no to any work request or over committing to networking events, seminars or conferences. In the worst-case scenario, affected employees become disengaged and less productive. It may even result in decreased job satisfaction and morale and will negatively impact on the staff member’s performance. What’s more, this sort of negativity has a nasty habit of quickly spreading through a team.
What Are The Implications Of FOMO For Employers?
Some of you may be thinking: what’s the problem? I’m happy for my employees to be connected to work 24/7 if it means I get more out of them. While it is true that a cloud intranet has a great many advantages, it’s also true that as a responsible employer, you will want, as much as possible, to ensure the overall health and wellbeing of your staff members.
Let’s remind ourselves of the many positives intranets bring to flexible working.
Advantages of an intranet: Used responsibly, the intranet offers employees greater flexibility and control over their working lives. With a Wi-Fi connection, the intranet can be accessed from any location and outside standard operating hours. So employees that are regularly out on the road visiting clients and drumming up new business, can continue to work and be productive from their hotel rooms, at the airport terminal or on the train. Similarly, an employee with a sick child, instead of having to take the day off to look after them can simply log on to the intranet while working from home. Or how about the staff member that needs to update their knowledge with content on the latest safety and health at work guidelines relevant to their role. Using the intranet, they can complete the self-training in an afternoon at home without the distractions and constant interruptions they would have at work.
And so the intranet offers many potential benefits to employees for remote working as well as greater flexibility and control.
The potential is there, however, for some employees to develop FOMO which, as we’ve seen, can negatively impact on not only their individual levels of productivity but also the whole team’s performance.
So what is a responsible employer to do? Here are three easily implemented tips on how to minimize the potential for FOMO in your organization.
1. Set Some Ground Rules And Clear Expectations
If you as a senior manager or business owner are sending emails and logging on to the intranet at 9 pm, then it’s probably not the best signal to be sending staff members. For the sake of your work/life balance as well as those of your employees, it’s a good idea to set some clear expectations about what’s expected from employees. For example, have 8.30 pm as the cut-off point for all work communications (with the obvious exception of emergency situations). This way all employees, including those with FOMO, can be certain that they are not missing out on anything. Instead, they can switch off both mentally and physically and enjoy some proper rest and relaxation. They will be rejuvenated and refocused come the morning and will be better able to take on the day’s challenges.
What’s more, you can set some ground rules about responding to emails or work alerts. If employees know that they have say four hours to get back to a colleague, then they won’t feel quite so compelled to reply as soon as the request comes through. In fact, it’s probably a good discipline for all staff members and will ensure that there is a more measured and thought through response given to requests for information or feedback.
2. Turn Off Notifications!
That constant ping of an email alert or notification coming through can be very distracting. Make it clear to employees that it’s OK to turn off notifications from time to time and create quiet spaces in the office where they can go to complete an important task in peace.
Again it’s a relatively small but nonetheless significant message that you are delivering to staff members.
3. Focus On Employee Growth Rather Than Career Progression
It may seem like a simple nuance of language, but it is an important distinction that sends a clear message to employees. Instead of constantly emphasizing career progression as being the be all and end all in the office, the subtle change of emphasis to employee growth helps to take the pressure off. Rather than comparing themselves to others all the time, the employee instead is focused on their individual growth. Encouraging opportunities for new ways of working, cross-departmental projects and a wider breath of experience will help to facilitate this essential culture change.
Tackle FOMO Now
FOMO in the workplace as a modern phenomenon is likely here to stay. It’s up to every employer, therefore, to take steps to minimize the potentially negative impacts it can have.
If you’re concerned about FOMO in your organization or you’d like to find out more about intranets, contact the experienced team at MyHub.