Emerging technologies are shifting the workplace and how we work. Many assume that new technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), might affect not only employment and wages but the way workers approach their work and the impact on their health and well-being.
What is Technostress?
Technostress, first identified by Craig Brod in 1984, is defined as the negative psychological link between people and the introduction of new technologies. Some of the causes of technostress include the quick pace of technological change, a lack of proper training and the always-on culture.
Some of the psychological effects of this syndrome are caused by;
- information overload in order to apply it in the right context and keep up to date
- techno-overload, where people are forced to work harder and faster as a result of technological advances
- job insecurity, a fear that computers may replace human roles.
Stress can impact us all differently and both physically and mentally. The symptoms of technostress are no different to other stressors such as insomnia, loss of temper, irritability, poor judgement and poor performance. Stress can also manifest in other ways causing heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, digestive issues and more.
Although these issues first arose in the 80s, stressors related to technology have never been more relevant and highlight the need to address the impacts of tech on employee well-being.
4 Ways to Prevent Technostress in the Workplace
Prepare for Resistance
A study conducted in Japan found that it took months for employees to adapt to technology changes. It was met by a huge amount of resistance and negativity.
Conversely, once the new technology was adopted and applied by individuals job satisfaction and well-being increased. As the technology was fully embedded and embraced employees found they could focus on more complex and creative tasks that only humans can perform.
This gave them greater satisfaction and reduced resistance and anxiety toward technology integration. Resistance to change needs to be forecasted when planning any new technology into the workplace and this includes how it's being communicated, integrated and engaged with.
Manage the Expectation
Another condition of technostress is a feeling of 'techno-invasion'. In short, technology has enabled us to be contactable anytime anywhere, which can give the feeling of being 'always exposed'.
Although this may not be within the employee's contract many often feel they need to be constantly connected.
The regular workday is being extended and intruding on personal life. Office work is completed at all sorts of hours today, which can be positive, but can also make it almost impossible to switch off.
Workplaces will need to adjust expectations by implementing policies and communication strategies to ensure that a break from work is actively encouraged by management.
Limit the Impact
An organisations values and beliefs around technology use and its implementation should always consider the health and well-being of the employee. After all, if you look after your technology better than your employees you won't have anyone left to run your tech for you.
Workplace stress is a psychological hazard that is being approached with little strategic thought. Mindfulness, yoga and resilience workshops can only do so much. They are pretty much redundant if the employer is still dishing out unattainable deadlines and expecting employees to answer calls and emails outside of hours.
Understanding the impact of implementing such technology using working groups and change managers should be a priority.
A deliberate and holistic approach to employee well-being needs to be considered as a strategic business need. In an era where flexible working and remote working are becoming the norm, organisations will need to lean on technology more and more.
Getting strategic in your approach to introducing emerging technologies in conjunction with strategic wellness programmes will prepare a workforce whilst limiting technostress.
However, challenging this may be for organisations it can't be ignored. To implement emerging technology into your workforce and avoid job security anxiety, added stress and burnout several things need to change.
Policies and cultures need to ensure that employers aren't impacting employee's health or wellbeing. Wellness needs to be a key element of business strategy to ensure success of the employee and the integration of emerging technologies and new working models.
If you want to learn more about how emerging technology impacts employee health and well-being Cpl's Future of Work Institute invite you to join an explorative and interactive intimate event in For a Soho in London on 20th February 2020. The event will feature experts in the field of future of work, emerging technology and strategic wellness.