How technology can support employee mental health

There are several proven strategies managers can put in place to support employees working remotely, as well as steps employees can adopt to utilise technology and work more effectively, says UNSW Business School's Markus Groth

In terms of the steps and the interventions that organisations can take, they sort of can take place at three levels: at the individual level for individual employees and at the team organisation level. And ideally, organisations want to use a mix of them and also use a mix of proactive versus reactive measures. 

So at the individual level, we can provide resilience training, specific coaching to employees, obviously, training in terms of new technology, having arrangements where people can get on board in terms of participative management participative decision making more easily in terms of specific training for managers and leaders, etc. 

So everything that we know in terms of how to manage change effectively an organisation really applies to the introduction of technology as well as A lot of times it's a very top-down approach, and people don't know what to expect and they feel it's a burden or it's additional work for them. They're far less likely to be on board. 

If the process of technological advances is inevitable, and for organisations to introduce them if it's in a process that's very participatory. People have input and they feel like they're part of the process, it makes it much more effective. Have a mindset about lifelong learning approach to technology. 

I mean, we all know that it's inevitable that technology will change and changes quite rapidly and we need to learn new things we need to adapt. Fortunately, one of the very few positive side effects of the coven pandemic at the moment is that we see in a lot of industries, all of a sudden, what seemed to be such an insurmountable barrier, all of a sudden, was adapting very quickly to using technology. 

The responsibility is increasingly now employees to really define those boundaries, put some effective strategies in place of how we can manage that. It's not necessarily [that] we need to follow strict guidelines about this is your personal life, this is your, your work life, and they can never intersect and never cross each other. 

But people need to find their own boundaries. So especially now in the epidemic that this seems like in self-evident thing to say, but you know, we got to use the technology to the best of our ability to still try to maintain and form those social relationships. Even if a lot of times, we're constrained by not meeting being able to meet face to face. 

And we've seen a lot of organisations very creative ways of how you can do that not just the typical zoom calls, but other sorts of social events that are virtual online and little, you know, other strategies that you can use. I think a lot of organisations are in the same boat where they're realizing that we have a lot of technologies at hand actually. And if we absolutely have to, we can still create and find some creative ways of people to keep those social connections.

Dr Markus Groth is a Professor of Organisational Behaviour in the School of Management at UNSW Business School. For more information, please contact Professor Groth directly, you cal also read: A review and agenda for examining how technology-driven changes at work will impact workplace mental health and employee well-being, or visit the Australian Journal of Management


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