“Work 4.0” puts more pressure on workers

Experts and managers are increasingly feeling “digitization pressure”. A study by German health insurance provider Barmer warns of health risks.

In Germany alone, more than 33 million employees are digitally networked. The work pace, the complexity of the tasks and the information density are increasing along with constant distractions from e-mails and voice messages. Mobile devices and flexible working hours blur the lines between work and leisure time.

According to a representative survey by Barmer health insurance, experts and managers with IT and scientific backgrounds feel a growing “digitization pressure”. Technical development and the rapid growth in knowledge require constant training. But despite all efforts, people have an increasing feeling of uncertainty. Every fourth 39-year-old is worried that their workplace will fall victim to disruptive innovations or be “digitized away”.

The result: Emotional exhaustion and conflicts between work and family. To keep pace, many of those surveyed admit to curtailing their private and family lives in favor of their work. But, according to the study, this strategy leads to an impasse. After all, people who do work for the office on their smartphone, notebook or PC in their spare time have a higher risk of burnout. The survey also discovered that more than 75 percent of those who do this are exhausted when they get out of bed in the morning. In addition, if they don’t balance out their work lives with physical activity, they also experience headaches. In this vicious circle, performance falls off—and the willingness to suffer increases. Because they are concerned about their job, many people still drag themselves to work even when they have health problems.

Companies can actively help break this vicious circle. Occupational health promotion, freedom in choosing working hours and an open conversational atmosphere have proven to be helpful. The study found out that if they have a good relationship with their boss employees have a feeling of security as regards handling digitization, and they also have more courage to face the accompanying challenges.

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