Feeling constantly connected yet increasingly detached? You’re not alone. We live in a time of constant connectivity — yet rates of loneliness and burnout continue to rise.
In a recent webinar with Amy Blankson, CEO of the Digital Wellness Institute, Mainstay explores how institutions can leverage technology to improve wellbeing instead of harm it. Let’s explore some key insights we took from the discussion.
Our digital habits reveal a disconnect
It may not surprise you that webinar attendees reported spending up to 9 hours a day on screens. Employees today have never been more digitally engaged at work and home. But this always-on digital culture has real consequences — 89% report digital burnout, 40% are less productive, and 90% suffer from tech-related stress.
These statistics reveal an alarming trend. It’s clear that technology designed to bring us together is often driving us apart and compromising wellbeing. So what’s the solution?
How to infuse digital wellness in the workplace and classroom
The concept of “digital wellness” focuses around using technology deliberately and thoughtfully to enhance our lives. It means being more deliberate about how we use tech so it enhances rather than harms our wellbeing. This could involve taking digital detoxes, practicing minimalism, or just being more thoughtful about our usage.
With increased burnout, disengagement, and turnover, more people are seeking schools and workplaces that prioritize wellbeing. For organizations, this starts with modeling healthy boundaries and enabling people to dictate their own digital terms. Leadership must demonstrate work-life balance through actions like:
- Communicating without expecting 24/7 availability
- Empowering people to set “off the grid” times
- Discouraging email on evenings/weekends
- Setting policies to limit notification overload
- Surveying digital wellness and responding to feedback
When you demonstrate this kind of care for employees and students, it can have a transformative impact. In fact, according to recent Gallup report, employees who believed their employer cared about their wellbeing were:
- 69% less likely than all other workers to search for a new job
- 71% less likely to report experiencing burnout
- 3x more likely to be engaged at work
- 5x more likely to serve as an advocate for their company
Tapping AI as a tool for connection
Another webinar insight was AI’s potential to improve wellbeing through timely messaging and conversational guidance. The convenience and versatility of text conversations make them ideal for diverse audiences. This is especially true for those who are most likely to fall through the cracks of the traditional system — including first-generation students who are unfamiliar with the processes and jargon of higher education or frontline workers without reliable email access.
AI messaging allows people to communicate their needs in the moment while providing a more natural, conversational connection. For example, a student could text about feeling stressed during finals week, and Mainstay’s AI chatbot can share campus mental health resources or escalate the concern to a team member on campus. Importantly, our platform uses research-backed AI messages to have these conversations in a way that feels empathetic and judgment-free.
AI conversations create opportunities for convenient, in-the-moment interactions. Instead of getting lost in impersonal email inboxes, people can access support, answers, and resources on demand through AI messaging. It can be used to schedule check-ins, answer frequently asked questions, and direct people to relevant resources. Research shows that the right AI message at the right time can boost engagement, belonging, and persistence.
Key takeaways for improving wellness in a digital era
Fostering an intentional and mindful approach to technology must address all dimensions of wellness. Leadership plays a key role in reinforcing belonging by inspiring people to prioritize self-care and supporting people with timely suggestions and nudges. Small actions like check-ins, words of encouragement, and resources to unplug can remind individuals they are valued while providing strategies to find balance.
With constant connectivity as the norm, a digital-first approach can have the most impact. Here are best practices your organization can integrate to jumpstart your efforts:
- Model healthy tech use with policies about availability, notifications, etc.
- Expanding communication channels to meet different needs and preferences
- Leverage proven, AI messaging to proactively support wellbeing
Improving wellbeing in the digital era requires rethinking how we integrate tech into all aspects of life. While technology presents challenges, the right interactions can actually help us all feel more valued, engaged, and cared for.
What steps will you take today to promote digital wellness? What support can leadership provide to make people feel recognized, empowered, and cared for? By putting people first, organizations can craft a healthier digital environment.
Watch the full webinar to explore this topic in more detail.