Technological innovation in the workplace is important in order to stay competitive, efficient, and effective, though adjusting to new technology or systems can have its challenges. All worthwhile adjustments will require energy, focus, and faith. While some employees may enjoy the challenges of adopting new technology or see the long-term benefits, others will have understandable concerns about what it means to face such changes in the workplace.

Four Concerns about New Technology/Systems in the Workplace

  1. Expecting work demands to increase.
  2. Disruption of day-to-day workflow by system-wide changes.
  3. Increased stress, anxiety, or frustration while adjusting to changes.
  4. Potential loss of employment due to an inability to master new technology or systems.

All of these possible reactions relate to a person’s sense of power, control, and ability. So much of our identity is tied to what we do and how well we do it. If our jobs or our duties begin to change, it can threaten our understanding of what is within our control and how successful we can be.

How Do We Cope with Stress Related to Changes in the Workplace? When our coping resources do not match the demands of the situation, stress emerges. Therefore, the best buffer to the potential stress is to have effective coping skills. The following represent a few skills that may help with coping and adjustment to new technology and systems in the workplace.

  1. Stay informed. They say that information is power. It also offers a sense of control. The more you know about the reasons and/or process for changes in procedures and technology, the more likely you are to understand and accept the changes.
  2. Accept what you cannot change. This does not mean ignore how you feel. In fact, ignoring or suppressing your emotions can cause even more challenges. The goal is to not allow short-term thoughts, feelings, and impulses to direct your behavior. Instead, focus on the long-term implications and your personal goals and act according to your values. To develop this skill:
    1. Be aware of what is happening in the present moment rather than focusing on anticipated problems.
    2. Identify the thoughts and feelings you have in this moment and recognize you have choices.
    3. Select the behavior and responses that support what you want to achieve. In other words, choose to be effective versus just being “right.”​
  3. Recognize your learning style. There are seven different styles of learning, and everyone has a mix of styles based on their strengths. Ask yourself: How do you prefer to take in information and when are you most likely to remember it? Use your learning styles to your advantage as you begin to learn something new.
    1. Visual/Spatial
    2. Auditory/Musical
    3. Verbal
    4. Physical
    5. Logical
    6. Social
    7. Solitary​

Seek support. Training classes and technological support will help with skill development and technical questions during a technology shift in the workplace, but they will not cover the emotional toll of what can be a frustrating process. While co-workers and managers can provide a space for expressing frustration, it is important to not sit in groups and complain about the change. Instead, explain the problems and then consider how people in the group can help one another. Friends, family, and clergy are also valuable sources of emotional support.

​Vanderbilt Medical Center and Vanderbilt University employees can contact Work/Life Connections – Employee Assistance Program (WLC-EAP) for support through any change in the workplace, as well as other professional and personal situations. WLC-EAP offers confidential, short-term, no-cost counseling and coaching to enhance resilience and manage stress. Employees can make an appointment by calling 615-936-1327.

Change in the workplace is to be expected, but by using these skills and the resources available to you, there also are ways to make it more manageable.

Written by Chad A. Buck, Ph.D., HSP
Licensed Psychologist, Work/Life Connections - EAP
Psychological Support Consultant, Health Plus