Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Technostress: Implications for Adults in the Workforce

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Technostress: Implications for Adults in the Workforce

Article excerpt

Although some workplace technologies create efficiency, productivity, and flexibility (Society for Human Resource Management, 2014), recent literature reflects an increasing interest in the effect of technostress on employee health and productivity (Laspinas, 2015). Brod (1984) defined technostress as ineffective coping with technology that results in distress. Use of information and communications technologies (ICT), such as cell phones, voice mail, e-mail, and instant messaging, can challenge employees by creating a range of stressors, including overload, role ambiguity, and job insecurity (Fenner & Renn, 2010; Grant, Wallace, & Spurgeon, 2013; Knani, 2013). ICT can create somatic stress responses (e.g., Riedl, 2013; Riedl, Kindermann, Auinger, & Javor, 2012) and is associated with job strain, poor self-rated health, and workplace effort-reward imbalance (Stadin, Nordin, Broström, Magnusson Hanson, Westerlund, & Fransson, 2016).

ICT-related stress, which is distinct from general work stress, adds to overall work stress even when job demands, demographics, and job variables are controlled (e.g., Ayyagari, Grover, & Purvis, 2011). Use of ICT changes not only the way people complete their work but also the work environment and culture (e.g., Ragu-Nathan, Tarafdar, Ragu-Nathan, & Tu, 2008). As technology alters the nature and tempo of work, researchers are only now starting to investigate its effect on individuals and organizations (Tarafdar, Tu, Ragu-Nathan, & RaguNathan, 2011). Psychosocial hazards such as work stress are globally recognized health risks (Leka & Jain, 2010). With 24/7 access to work enabled by ICT, telecommuting, and tech-based automation, it is prudent to explore the impact that work "anytime and anywhere" has on workers.

Regardless of occupation, employees across industries manage and use technologies in their jobs. They must meet expectations for timely responses from multiple directions and are asked to complete tasks simultaneously from different channels. Many workers cope with technostress on an individual level, despite attention to organizational environments and resources that contribute to technostress (e.g., Tarafdar et al., 2011; Wang, Shu, & Tu, 2008). Furthermore, some literature suggests that technostress impacts family life and recovery from work (Diaz, Chiaburu, Zimmerman, & Boswell, 2012). This impact is more than psychosocial, with research linking technostress to measurable changes in physiology (e.g., Riedl, 2013).

Despite the work implications, the career development literature contains little information about the effects of ICT use on workers. Some information exists on the use of social media and the Internet for career planning and career service delivery (e.g., Kettunen, Vuorinen, & Sampson, 2015; Osborn & LoFrisco, 2012; Sampson & Osborn, 2014). Other research addresses ways to incorporate ICT into career practices (Bimrose, Kettunen, & Goddard, 2014) and workforce development (Bimrose, Hughes, & Barnes, 2011). Researchers also have examined career professionals' use of ICT for career information and client decision making (Osborn, Kronholz, & Finklea, 2014) and associated ethics (e.g., Sampson & Makela, 2014). There is literature on use of ICT as a flexible tool consistent with career self-construction (Bernaud & Di Fabio, 2011). Diaz et al. (2012) studied attitudes about communication technologies flexibility and work outcomes. They found that although flexible attitudes increased use of communication technologies and work satisfaction, work-life conflict also increased.

Given the expanding use of ICT across industries, career professionals must understand how technostress could impact their clients. For this review, we examined how technostress may affect career planning and decision making as well as individual and organizational functioning.


Brod (1984) defined technostress as a "modern disease of adaptation caused by an inability to cope with the new computer technologies in a healthy manner" (p. …

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