The purpose of this paper is to explore how bankers perceive digitalisation relating to their subjective well-being. The paper seeks to further explore how this relation is contingent on the aspect of structural organisation represented by the concept of individualist/collectivist organisational culture.
The study is based on the survey distributed to employees of 18 bank offices in the south of Sweden, which 161 employees answered. The analysis of the data was performed by descriptive statistics, principle component analysis, Pearson correlations, multiple linear and moderating multiple linear regression analyses.
The study indicates that bankers’ experience digitalisation as a four-faceted construct: a tool for information management, and work optimisation, customer relation management and as a change agent. The study suggests that the use of digital tools for work optimisation has a positive relation to the work- related dimensions of subjective well-being as well as a spillover effect on the life balance and life satisfaction dimensions. It also indicates that the information management dimension has a positive relation to the life satisfaction aspect of subjective well-being. Finally, the study found that increasing the degree of collectivist organisation culture has a positive moderating effect on the relation between the use of digital tools for work optimisation and life balance and subjective well-being, respectively.
The study reveals a new way of operationalising digitalisation in banks and is the first study of its type to explore the relationship between digitalisation different facets and banker subjective well-being.
Umans, T., Kockum, M., Nilsson, E. and Lindberg, S. (2018), "Digitalisation in the banking industry and workers subjective well-being", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 11 No. 6, pp. 411-423. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJWHM-05-2018-0069Download as .RIS
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The scrutiny of banks has, for the greater part, been focused on how top management assesses risks, implements control systems and keeps client satisfied (e.g. Swank, 1996; Klein, 1971; Berger and Di Patti, 2006). These studies have traditionally been considered in relation to the dynamic environment in which banks operate (Beerli et al., 2004). Changes in economic cycles, financial crises and regulatory pressure have all received substantial attention in the literature (e.g. Francis and Osborne, 2010; Chetwin and Reddell, 2012; Coleman and Feler, 2015). However, when banks adopted digitalisation (Chong et al., 2010), the changes were not given the same attention. While digitalisation has been shaping the banking sector for decades, the acceleration of its use in recent years has presented the industry with number of challenges that have not been sufficiently discussed in the literature (Alam and Rizvi, 2012).
The accelerating forces of digitalisation have raised a number of issues related to human resources and human resources management. On the one hand, digitalisation might allow for a more efficient execution of work and for faster decision making with reduced risk (cf. Gewald and Dibbern, 2005; Turban et al., 2008). On the other hand, it means that jobs, especially of a clerical nature, are disappearing (cf. Alam and Rizvi, 2012). As a result, digitalisation has created uncertainty in about its positive or/and negative aspects, both among those in banking organisations and those aspiring to a career in banking (Klewes et al., 2016). Research has indicated that changes, especially rapid changes like the acceleration of digitalisation (Kagermann, 2015), have profound effects on workers’ well-being. This, in turn, affects workers’ productivity and commitment and loyalty to organisation (cf. Bushra, Ahmad and Naveed, 2011).
Well-being and its facets such as occupational stress, depression and insomnia, among others, have received increasing attention in research exploring the financial service industry (e.g. Giahi et al., 2015; Malamardi et al., 2015; Kan and Yu, 2016; Giorgi et al., 2017). Most of these studies are found in occupational health psychology literature, which posits that this increasing attention is motivated by contextual changes, changes in the financial service industry and changes in internal organisational in banks (Giorgi et al., 2017). Economic cycles and economic crises are two contextual factors that have been shown to cause occupation stress and reduce employee well-being (Frasquilho et al., 2016, Giorgi, Arcangeli, Mucci and Cupelli, 2015; Mucci et al., 2016). This is especially true in the financial industry because it is highly sensitive to these externalities (Tsai and Chan, 2011; Snorradóttir et al., 2013). In addition, decentralisation of the industry and increased completion within the industry have shown to be related to the well-being and ill-being of bank employees (Giorgi et al., 2017). Finally, changes in general and industry-specific contexts have been shown to relate to the changes in organisation-specific contexts, which have been highlighted as an important determinant of bankers’ well-being (e.g. Mughal et al., 2010). The nascent field of organisation-specific research has shown that bankers are affected by aspects such as psychosocial work environment (e.g. Silva and Barreto, 2012), organisation structure (e.g. Mughal et al., 2010; Amigo et al., 2014) and job-specific aspects such as demand and control (e.g. Snorradóttir et al., 2013), security (e.g. Oginni et al., 2013) and accidents and risks (Mutsvunguma and Gwandure, 2011; Giorgi, Perez, D’Antonio, Mucci, Ferrero, Cupelli and Arcangeli, 2015; Mucci et al., 2015).
The different antecedents of well-being and the organisational changes they bring about have been shown to relate both positively (e.g. Soobaroyen and Chengabroyan, 2006) and negatively (e.g. Grunberg et al., 2008) to workers’ well-being. These mixed results (Rintala and Suolanen, 2005) could be related to conceptual clarity, particularly in respect to digitalisation as an aspect of organisational change (cf. Phillips and Wright, 2009). These results could also relate to a number of context-specific features upon which the relationship between digitalisation and well-being depends. Previous studies exploring the relationship between organisational change and individual outcomes have suggested that the properties of the organisational climate need to be aligned with the nature of the organisational change (Cabrera et al., 2001). Umans et al. (2016) suggested that organisational culture might represent the holistic aspect of work environments that interacts both with the well-being of the employees and the organisational changes.
Organisational culture has long been acknowledged to be an important driver of organisational effectiveness through the creation of the environment which affects workers’ productivity and behaviour (Kirsh, 1999; Schein, 2010). Umans et al. (2016), who explored the role that organisational culture plays for auditors’ well-being, posited that effectiveness and productivity have often been associated with a healthy workforce. This suggests that organisational culture could be an important environmental trigger of well-being and also represents the environment through which interaction with organisational change (here digitalisation) will be reflected in well-being of the employees (Chen et al., 2004; Shi et al., 2013).
Guided by the tension in digitalisation and inspired by previous research on well-being and organisational change, the study sought to explore how bankers perceived digitalisation in banks as relating to their well-being. The study also sought to further explore the ways in which this relation might be contingent on the structural organisation aspect represented by individualistic/collectivistic organisational culture.
The exploration of this contingency-inspired research model was performed on the sample of 151 bankers in the south of Sweden by a self-administered questionnaire and through the use of established measures of organisational culture and well-being. The study also developed and tested a user-based and perception-based measure of digitalisation in the banking industry. The remainder of the paper is structured as follows: first it presents the method and then the empirical results and analysis. The paper concludes with a discussion of the findings, limitations and suggestions for future research.
The data were collected through an electronic survey in spring 2017, which was distributed to employees of 18 bank offices in the south of Sweden (Lindberg and Nilsson, 2017). Prior to the distribution of the survey, the heads of the bank offices were asked to distribute the link for the survey to their employees. The survey was deemed to be the appropriate method for this study, given the potential sensitivity of the questions and the higher probability of receiving more trustworthy answers when the questionnaire was anonymous; the study’s focus on the relations between concepts within a deductively inspired research model; and the study’s interest in developing a quantitative instrument measuring digitalisation. The survey was answered by 162 employees. The 151 fully completed surveys were used as a basis for this study. A total of 41 per cent of the respondents were females; the employees’ average tenure in the banking industry was 17 years, and their tenure in the position they occupied was 7.7 years. Our respondents represented seven different banks, with 57 per cent of them working in regional saving banks. A total of 14 per cent of our respondents indicated that they had senior positions, with remaining respondents indicating they were bank officers in direct communication with clients (see Table II).
The survey was conducted in Swedish and used establish validated instruments for well-being and organisational culture and an instrument exploring digitalisation, which was developed for this study.
Subjective measures of individual well-being were adopted. Subjective well-being, the dependent variable in this study, was represented by three facets: job satisfaction, life balance and life satisfaction. The choice of these facets was guided by Danna and Griffin’s (1999) suggestion that in order to capture well-being in organisational settings, one has to explore context-free measures of life experiences, job-related experiences and facet-specific dimensions of well-being.
Job satisfaction was measured with Andrews and Withey’s (1974) job satisfaction scale, which was intended to measure a facet-specific dimension of well-being as well as work-related structures. The original scale consisted of five questions, asking respondents to assess different facets of their well-being, namely fellow workers, work demands, environment, supervision and the work itself, using a Likert-type scale where 1 was “Terrible” and 7 was “Delightful”. For the purpose of this study, a modified scale was used (Umans et al., 2016) in which the last of the original questions was split into three questions, which assessed physical surroundings, working hours and workload as separate aspects. The overall measure of the Andrews and Withey job satisfaction scale had an acceptable reliability of α=0.80, which is comparable to recent studies using original and modified instruments (e.g. Umans et al., 2016). Thus, the summative scores of the responses were used to represent the concept of job satisfaction.
Life balance was measured using Bradburn’s (1969) Affect Balance Scale to capture the life-experience dimension of well-being. The study adopted the original scale, which consisted of five negative and five positive effects. The respondents were asked to tick Yes and No boxes if they had experienced any of the emotions in the past few weeks. The final scale was calculated in line with the original instrument in which the sum of Yes answers to (Yes =1, No =0) the five negative items was subtracted from the sum of the Yes answers of the five positive items.
The context-free life satisfaction dimension was explored with the Satisfaction with Life Scale (Diener et al., 1985). The original instrument, which was used, consists of five questions; it asks respondents to assess different dimensions of their life satisfaction on the Likert scale, where 1=strongly disagree and 7=strongly agree. The overall measure of the Life Satisfaction Scale had an acceptable reliability of α=0.91, which is comparable to other recent studies using the original instrument (e.g. Kaczmarek et al., 2015).
Originally, the instrument measuring digitalisation, the independent variable, was divided into two facets, namely the degree of use of digital tools and of subjective experiences associated with the use of digital tools. While the degree of use of digital tools showed acceptable reliability, the experience-related aspect of digitalisation did not. Given that, and the newness of the instruments developed, it was decided to perform principle component analysis (PCA) of both facets. In analysing the appropriateness of data for PCA, correlations were checked between the variables, sampling adequacy and Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin, which were within acceptable range. The eigenvalues and screen plot indicate that four components should be used (all communality values were preferred 0.4). The rotated matrix of the PCA (see Table I) revealed that the respondents made no distinction between the use and experience of digitalisation. Instead, they saw it as a digital tool used in different domains: for information management, for customer relation management, for work optimisation and as a change agent. Based on the findings of the PCA, the four factors were kept as a regression factor scores and used in further analysis.
To measure organisational culture, the moderating variable, a scale developed by Chatman and Spataro (2005) was used. The scale consists of seven adjectives that describe organisational culture. Five of these are associated with collectivist organisational culture (e.g. team-oriented, collaborative, people-oriented, supportive and fair) and two are associated with individualistic organisational culture (e.g. individually demanding and competitive). The respondents were provided with a Likert scale where 1=least characteristic of their organisation and 7 = most characteristic of their organisation. The overall measure of organisational culture had an acceptable reliability of α=0.69, which is compatible with results in the other studies using the instrument (e.g. Umans et al., 2016). This allowed the summative scores of the responses to be used to represent the concept.
In line with other studies exploring well-being, the study controlled for gender, age, organisational tenure and leadership position (Umans et al., 2016).
The data were first explored using the exploratory and confirmatory statistical techniques mentioned under Operationalisation, namely PCA and Cronbach’s α. Digitalisation and its facets were explored using PCA to reveal respondent and context-specific facets of digitalisation. Previously validated measures of well-being and organisational culture were explored using Cronbach’s α to assess the reliability of multiple scales questions in measuring specific concepts.
To identify the relationships between the variables, data analyses was done using Pearson correlations and multiple regression analyses; when testing the contingency model, moderating multiple regression analysis was done. Pearson correlations, including descriptive statistics, were performed to assess the bivariate relations between independent, dependent, moderator and control variables and to detect potential multi-collinearity issues between independent variables and control variables. Multiple linear regression analysis was chosen to explore the combined association between independent and control variables on one side and dependent variable on the other. Multiple linear moderating regression analysis was performed to explore the interaction (performed by multiplication) between the independent and moderating variable(s). Regression analysis was chosen as an appropriate tool, given the deductively assumed interrelations between the concepts under study.
Ethical approval and considerations
Ethical approval was not sought for the study because the data collected were of a non-biomedical nature (The Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs, 2003; The Ministry of Education and Research, 2008). The study adhered to the basic principles for research in the Declaration of Helsinki (World Medical Association).
A number of ethical considerations were taken into account. Participation was voluntary and confidential; the responses were anonymised. After the data were checked for organisational affiliation for descriptive purposes, the affiliation information was removed to further ensure anonymity. The study may have affected respondents’ well-being because the survey questions may have evoked positive/negative emotions that, in turn, could have biased the answers. If the respondents wanted to express some of their feelings, they could either describe them in the blank space on the questionnaire or contact one of the authors for further discussion. They were also given the option of not participating or ending their participation in the survey.
Results and analysis
The correlations between the independent, dependent, moderating and control variables as well as some descriptive statistics can be found in Table II. The correlation tests show that all the subjective well-being dimensions have a significant positive correlation with the use of digital tools for work optimisation aspect of digitalisation. This suggests that increasing optimisation of work with digital tools improves job and life satisfaction as well as life balance. Furthermore, the life satisfaction aspect of well-being has a significant positive correlation with use of digital tools for information management. This suggests that using digital tools for information management might trigger satisfaction with life in general. The matrix further shows that increasing the degree of collective organisational culture has a significant positive correlation with all dimensions of well-being and is positively correlated with the use of digital tools for work optimisation. The former means that the more collectivistic that bankers perceive their organisational culture to be, the greater degree of well-being they experience in their job, life and life balance dimensions. The latter indicates that individuals who make a greater use of digital tools for work optimisation experience their organisation as having a stronger collectivist organisational culture. As Table II reveals, some control variables significantly correlate with the independent, dependent and moderating variables. For example, employees in management positions appear to have a high degree of job satisfaction and life balance. Women appear to have a lower degree of use of digital tools for work optimisation and customer relation management. Increasing age also has a negative relation to those aspects of digitalisation and its change agent aspect. Tenure in the organisation has a positive correlation with the use of digital tools as a change agent.
The results of multiple regression analysis (see Table III) showed the relationship between the digitalisation aspects and three facets of subjective well-being. All the regression models were shown to be significant (F sig. < 0.10). The three models indicate that the use of digital tools for work optimisation has a positive relation to all facets of subjective well-being. Model 2 (see Table III) further indicates that use of digital tools for information management has a positive relation to life satisfaction. None of the control variables appears to be significant, indicating no differences between gender and position in the hierarchy (manager or not) when it comes to the three facets of well-being. These results also indicate that age and tenure have no relation with well-being.
Moderating multiple regression analysis was performed to explore the moderating effect of organisational culture. The analysis was performed by including all the dimensions of digitalisation and their interaction with the moderator in the regression models with all facets of well-being. The moderation appears to be significant only with life balance as a dependent variable (see Table IV).
Model 4 in Table IV shows a positive moderating effect of collectivist organisational culture on the relationship between the use of digital tools for work optimisation and the life balance. The same model further indicates that increasing the degree of collectivist organisational culture has a direct and significant positive relationship with life balance. In order to interpret the moderation results, regression outcomes were plotted (see Figure 1). The plot indicates that increasing the degree of collectivist organisational culture enhances the positive relationship of the use of digital tools for work optimisation and life balance.
This explorative study investigated how digitalisation in banks is perceived to relate to the well-being of bankers and how this relation might be contingent on the individualist/collectivist characteristics of organisational culture. The study has explored digitalisation through a newly developed instrument that looks at users’ perceptions of digitalisation. Our study indicates that bankers experience digitalisation as a four-faceted construct: a tool for information management, work optimisation and customer relation management and as a change agent. Some of these aspects have emerged in previous research in banking (e.g. Kumbhar, 2011), but have not been considered in combination with each other and often have been associated with outcomes related to firms rather than to individuals. Thus, this study makes a methodological contribution in developing an instrument that enables the measurement of different facets of digitalisation in the banking industry.
This study suggests that digitalisation has a positive relation with three facets of well-being in its use for work optimisation. This suggests that this use of digital tools not only relates to subjective well-being but also has a spillover effect on life balance and life satisfaction. Given that on a higher conceptual level, digitalisation was assumed to represent organisational change, this study resonates well with previous studies that found that changes in an organisation often make an impact beyond work and reflect in individuals’ life outside work (e.g. Bushra et al., 2011). Furthermore, this study’s findings are supported by the studies exploring the financial service industry (e.g. Giorgi et al., 2017) that indicate that changes within organisations are closely related to different facets of well-being. This study indicates that digitalisation in its information management dimension has a positive relation to life satisfaction, yet does not have any relation to job satisfaction or life balance. These finding suggest that using digital tools for management information might trigger people’s ability to structure their living, something that might encompass job-related and life-balance-related aspects. The latter conclusion can be drawn from the very high correlation between the three facets of subjective well-being. While new for banking, these findings resonate well with the literature exploring the relationship between organisational changes and subjective well-being (e.g. Piderit, 2000; Cabrera et al., 2001). It suggests that when organisational change is experienced as emancipating on a personal level, it relates positively with life satisfaction (cf. Judge et al., 1999). The lack of relation between digitalisation and subjective well-being might suggest that neither yet provides the stimuli to trigger subjective experiences of well-being.
Given that the study explored a new and unique facet of organisational change, it is difficult to compare it with other studies exploring triggers of well-being in the banks. Those studies have primarily been focused on the isolated, and usually negatively charged, dimension of well-being associated with stress (cf. Mutsvunguma and Gwandure, 2011; Oginni et al., 2013; Snorradóttir et al., 2013; Kan and Yu, 2016). Those studies primarily explored triggers found on one level of analysis (e.g. context, organisational or individual) (cf. Giorgi et al., 2017). This study not only adopted a more holistic view on well-being, which was expressed through three of its facets (cf. Danna and Griffin, 1999) but also adopted aspects of organisational change that span multiple levels of analysis. Nevertheless, this study contributes to a growing stream of research exploring the antecedents of well-being in the highly volatile and rapidly changing banking context (e.g. Snorradóttir et al., 2013; Amigo et al., 2014; Giorgi, Arcangeli, Mucci and Cupelli, 2015; Giorgi, Perez, D’Antonio, Mucci, Ferrero, Cupelli and Arcangeli, 2015; Mucci et al., 2015).
The finding about the positive moderating effect of an increasing degree of collectivist organisational culture and life balance might suggest that optimisation of work by digitalisation in a tightly woven collective makes people feel balanced and in control. These findings resonate well with those in organisational literature that suggest that people who receive positive peer recognition for their effectiveness are able to better manage their life and job aspirations (cf. Ghiselli et al., 2001).
From the bivariate analysis, as well as the moderating analysis, organisational culture emerged as a strong predictor of bankers’ subjective well-being, thus, suggesting a direct rather than a contingent role for collectivist/individualist organisational culture in subjective experiences of well-being. This could partly explain why the other contingency models were not significant. The possible direct role also resonates well with previous research that suggests that organisational culture, while being a contextual factor, also serves as an important trigger of subjective well-being (Umans et al., 2016).
Our findings have practical implications for banks and their employees. The findings suggest that to keep their employees satisfied, banks have to signal that digitalisation is a tool for both acquiring information and optimising work. Furthermore, our study suggests that creating an inclusive and collectivist environment could be a way forward not only in increasing the influence of digitalisation on bankers’ well-being but also in influencing bankers’ well-being in general. The findings further suggest that an employer has to consider differences in age and gender in relation to digitalisation.
This study also shows that employees might benefit by becoming more aware of the environment in which they are working or are about to enter because of how it affects their well-being. Men and women, older and younger employees and those with different organisational tenures appear to perceive the effects of digitalisation differently. Given that digitalisation, while an emergent phenomenon, is here to stay (cf. Peitz and Waldfogel, 2012), the employees of banks should consider whether their demographic profile fits that of the increasing digitalisation in the industry and if their career choice is aligned with their vision of a sustainable work life balance.
Limitation and future research
The limitations of this study represent opportunities for future research. One limitation is the small size of the sample, which makes this study very exploratory. Using a larger sample from the banking field might have improved the generalisability of the results. Another way forward could be to compare bankers’ perceptions of well-being with those of closely related professions such as business professionals, auditors, lawyers or/and medical and education professionals. Another limitation lays in the digitalisation construct under investigation having been developed primarily with the banks in mind. Future research could both test and refine the user perception instrument in measuring digitalisation by adding new dimensions. Additionally, the study might suffer from common method bias. Although bias was checked with Harman’s single-factor test (Podsakoff et al., 2003), the newness of the digitalisation instrument could pose some threats to validity. Furthermore, it was impossible to perform a non-response analysis because data on the bank employees and their characteristics were not readily available. Thus, given that the results can only be viewed as indications because of the exploratory nature of the study and its findings, the study might be representative of a particular group of people. Finally, future studies should consider whether the only outcome variable to consider is the well-being of employees on an individual level, given the increasingly team-oriented nature of work in organisations.
|Questions||Information management||Work optimisation||Change agent||Customer relation management|
|I use digital tools in internal communication||0.789|
|I use digital tools in external communication||0.784|
|I use digital tools for information search||0.713|
|I use digital tools for documentation||0.587|
|I use digital tools for analysis||0.578|
|I feel that the use of digital tools makes my job easier||0.861|
|I feel that the use of digital tools is adding to my work effectiveness||0.834|
|I feel that the use of digital tools is relevant for my work||0.730|
|I feel that digital tools are hard to use||−0.568|
|I feel that the use of digital tools has changed my work role||0.828|
|I feel that the use of digital tools sets high requirements for my competence||0.759|
|I feel that the use of digital tools has changed the way I work||0.704|
|I use digital tools in contact with clients||0.860|
|I use digital tools when meeting with the clients||0.848|
Pearson correlation matrix
|4||Use of digital tools for information mgt||0||1||0.063||0.235**||−0.005|
|5||Use of digital tools for work optimisation||0||1||0.281**||0.166*||0.217**||0|
|6||Use of digital tools as change agent||0||1||0.079||0.125||0.067||0||0|
|7||Use of digital tools for customer relation mgt||0||1||−0.110||−0.034||−0.065||0||0||0|
Notes: *p<0.05; **p<0.01; ***p<0.10
Multiple regression analysis
|Model 1||Model 2||Model 3|
|Job satisfaction||Life satisfaction||Life balance|
|Variables||Std. B||SE||Std. B||SE||Std. B||SE|
|Use of digital tools for information mgt||0.061||0.068||0.226**||0.094||0.022||0.271|
|Use of digital tools for work optimisation||0.305**||0.070||0.171*||0.096||0.253**||0.279|
|Use of digital tools as change agent||0.017||0.073||0.083||0.100||0.037||0.291|
|Use of digital tools for customer relation mgt||−0.099||0.071||−0.013||0.098||−0.011||0.283|
|VIF value, highest||1.848||1.848||1.848|
Notes: *p<0.05; **p<0.01; ***p<0.10
Moderating multiple regression analysis
|Use of digital tools for information mgt. (D.IM)||0.002||0.262|
|Use of digital tools for work optimisation (D.WO)||0.174***||0.327|
|Use of digital tools as change agent (D.CA)||0.040||0.280|
|Use of digital tools for customer relation mgt. (D.CRM)||0.012||0.279|
|Organisational culture (OC)||0.375**||0.344|
|D.IM × OC||0.089||0.274|
|D.WO × OC||0.162***||0.231|
|D.CA × OC||−0.064||0.248|
|D.CRM × OC||0.068||0.289|
|VIF value, highest||1.912|
Notes: *p<0.05; **p<0.01; ***p<0.10
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