The role of mindfulness in reducing technostress in the workplace
Stress in organizations has been widely investigated in academic literature across several disciplines. Workplace stress has detrimental effects on employees’ health while at the same time causes severe negative socioeconomic consequences such as reduced productivity, decreased job performance, high rates of absenteeism and turnover intention, burnout and high rates of employee compensation claims translating into huge monetary costs for organizations. It is estimated that workplace stress costs more than 100 billion pounds every year to businesses due to decreased employee productivity, absenteeism and turnover. A major source of stress within the workplace is technology, as employees are obliged to utilize several different applications to complete their work tasks. Technostress is described as the negative impact arising from IT usage within the work environment and manifests in “emotional and physical stress associated with technology and the introduction of new technologies”. New digital technologies have changed organizational settings as well as the workload of employees thus contributing to higher levels of stress.
Previous studies have attempted to offer solutions to the problem of technostress at work, however the problem still exists today. Recently, studies have examined the role of mindfulness as a method to reduce technostress within the workplace. Mindfulness can potentially alleviate the adverse consequences of technostress – a concept initially introduced in psychology and the health sector as an attempt to discover alternative practices to alleviate medical and psychological health issues. Evidence suggests that mindfulness practices offer a myriad of benefits to individuals such as lower levels of stress and anxiety, enhanced well-being, improved working memory and increased emotional intelligence. Still, there is little research concentrating on the relationship between mindfulness and technostress, exploring how underlying conditions of technostress can be counteracted by mindfulness. The project explored the role of mindfulness, as a malleable personality trait, in alleviating the negative consequences arising from technostress within the workplace, by investigating the experiences of more mindful employees and learning from their practices. The project contributes both to academia and practice, offering important implications to managers and practitioners that strive to improve employee well-being within organisations.
The findings of the project offer important insights into the relationship between mindfulness and technostress, revealing the underlying strategies that more mindful individuals deploy as well as their perceptions during technostress experiences at work, shedding light on the pathway between mindfulness and technostress. Findings suggest that mindfulness can protect individuals against the negative impact of stressful events that occur due to IT within the workplace. A more mindful individual is able to adapt and cope more effectively with technostress conditions that arise daily due to the extended use of organizational IT. As a result, a higher degree of mindfulness can alleviate the unsettling feelings of technostress. Either in the form of an intervention program embedded in workplace settings or as a personal educational training, mindfulness can contribute to protecting as well as enhancing employees’ well-being while at the same time indirectly contribute to the reduction of workplace costs and boosting of the overall performance and success of the organization.
Dr Athina Ioannou
Lecturer in Business Analytics
Athina is a Lecturer in Business Analytics. She joined the University of Surrey in 2018 as a Research Fellow supporting the research activities in the EPSRC funded project “PriVELT” (PRIvacy-aware personal data management and Value Enhancement for Leisure Travellers). She has received her BSc in Finance (2011) from University of Macedonia, Greece with distinction, an MSc in Business Information Systems (2013) from City University London and her PhD degree in Computer Science (2018) from Brunel University London.