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Digitization is a major stress factor
It is currently only possible to speculate what effects digitalization will have on employment and the world of work in Germany in the long term, but significant changes can be assumed in any case. Working with digital technologies has already changed the world of work noticeably. According to a recent representative survey, this also leads to increased stress among employees.
In the largest and most comprehensive study to date on “Digital Stress in Germany”, researchers from the University of Augsburg and the Fraunhofer Project Group Information Systems examined which stresses and strains result from working with digital technologies. The study, funded by the Hans Böckler Foundation, is freely available for download.
Changed load and stress profile
The current study dealt with "the advancing digitalization and the resulting change in stress and strain profile at the workplace", explains Henner Gimpel from the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Research (ZIG) at the University of Augsburg. The data are representative across industries and federal states. A total of 2,640 participants were interviewed for the study.
Degree of digitization of the workplace is not the only decisive factor
The researchers come to the conclusion that the phenomenon or problem of digital stress “can be identified across all regions, industries, types of activity and individual demographic factors.” This stress is due to the fact that the employed do not or only insufficiently deal with digital technologies knowledge. It is not the degree of digitization of the workplace alone that is decisive for the extent of digital stress, but rather the imbalance between the skills in dealing with digital technologies on the one hand and the demands they place on employees on the other, the experts explain.
Young workers increasingly affected
Surprisingly, the study showed that 25- to 34-year-old workers were more stressed than other age groups, although younger people in particular are generally believed to be more competent in using digital technologies. It was also striking that “women who work in digitized workplaces feel more competent than men, but at the same time suffer more from digital stress than men,” the researchers report.
Uncertainty in dealing with digital technologies
According to the latest study results, uncertainty in dealing with digital technologies is perceived as the greatest stress factor across all genders, but the unreliability of the technologies, digital flooding in all areas of life and other factors should also be mentioned here. The study also showed that excessive digital stress is accompanied by a significant increase in health complaints.
Impending health problems
According to the study authors, "more than half of workers who are exposed to high digital stress suffer from backache, headache and general fatigue." Excessive digital stress also affects professional performance and leads to a " strong work-life conflict, ”said the University of Augsburg announcing the study results.
What countermeasures could help?
The researchers come to the conclusion that measures to avoid stress primarily require measures to avoid misuse by digital technologies. "This primarily includes behavior-preventive measures such as teaching or acquiring skills both in dealing with digital technologies and in coping with digital stress," emphasizes Gimpel. However, it is also a question of using digital technologies in a moderate and individually optimized manner, providing and ensuring support and attaching great importance to the reliability of the digital technologies used, the expert continues. (fp)