In this thought leadership article, Dr. Stephanie Moynihan, Associate Medical Director at Dialogue Health Technologies, discusses the increased employee demand for mental health support as the UK workforce is becoming increasingly addicted to their devices and screens...
As the working world is becoming ever more demanding in the UK, HR Directors are seeing a heightened concern and knock-on effect of employees being ‘always on’ through their digital devices. As ‘Technostress’ becomes more common due to the increasing use of, and reliance on, technology, employees are looking for enhanced support in their workplaces and there is a growing concern about the negative effects of technostress on UK employees.
Global prevalence of common mental health concerns rose by 25% during COVID-19 and has not reduced as pandemic measures eased. With an increasing number of us being equipped with mobile phones, tablets and laptops, employees are connected at all hours of the day, including weekends and holidays. In fact, almost half of UK employees (47%) cite technology issues or complications at work as having a negative impact on their mental health.
Ultimately, this leads to stress or burnout, affecting employees' mental wellbeing as many employees work additional hours beyond the normal “9-5” due to working “on the go” through these digital devices and not being able to switch off. This constant connectivity causes stress and burnout, leading to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
The overabundance of information can make it difficult for employees to maintain productivity and meet deadlines. Consequently, HR Leaders and businesses need to take steps to better support employee mental health and wellness in the face of technostress.
The Impacts of Technostress
Technostress can affect employees similarly to other types of stress, leading to: high absenteeism, high employee turnover, poor time management, poor performance and lower productivity. Technological information overload can also result in workers being unable to manage priorities or their time, often resulting in panic or guilt and, in turn, mental health concerns.
With just 29% of UK employees feeling their employers provide sufficient support regarding mental health, there is much to be done in the UK market. However, only 3 in 10 UK workers said they would feel comfortable discussing mental health concerns with their employers. Looking at the reasons why, it is disheartening to see that the main reasons include that employers would think negatively of them, showing there is a stigma around mental health issues.
Consequently, it is no surprise we are seeing people asking for better workplace mental health support. In fact, research has shown that almost nine in ten (85%) workers believe employees should play a role in their mental health and wellbeing at work showcasing it is more important than ever to strengthen conversations around the negative impacts of Technostress.
It is incredibly important UK employers listen to the facts and start to encourage a workplace free of stigma. One extra step employers can do is facilitate access to well-being resources and mental health services, for example through Employee Assistance Programmes. Additionally, employers can encourage their employees to take regular breaks from technology and promote a health work-life balance, as well as introduce employees to training and development programs to help employees manage their time and stress levels to boost productivity and mental wellbeing.
It is also key to promote personal well-being in and outside the workplace. There are a number of healthy habits we establish to support our mental health and wellness on a daily basis, from eating healthily and exercising, to practicing mindfulness or fostering social connections, all of which can be enabled through employer-paid wellness programs.
Technostress is a growing concern in the UK workplace, and its negative impact on employee mental health must be acknowledged and better addressed by UK employers to ensure a healthy and productive workforce moving forward.