Measures for human design of mental stress factors of digital work in public administrations

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Miriam MaibaumMarc-André WeberSascha Stowasser

Abstract: The digital transformation is concerning people in several aspects. In working environments of many workers, major changes and challenges are becoming apparent because of the proceeding dissemination of information and communication technologies (ICT). With the implementation of new digital technologies and digitalized work processes, the demands and burdens of employees are also inevitably changing. The rapid pace of technological development can increase mental strain on employees (Gimpel 2018), and as a result, impairment in the form of stress can occur among individual employees. Especially, public administrations are under pressure, not only because they are facing a digitalization-driven transformation, but also because employees are encountered with an increased workload in their daily work due to legislative requirements. The study focuses on public administrations in Germany and aims to answer the overarching question of how the digital transformation can succeed by involving the employees in the process of change. Its also analysed how to design mental stress factors in a human-oriented way. For this purpose, the stress factors of digital work are defined as the following, according to GIMPEL et al. (2020):•Invasion of privacy & performance monitoringConcern about invasion of privacy and favouring the perception of surveillance. •Modification & complexityContinuing ICT changes and upgrades unsettle users and create uncertainty. The complexity of new technologies leads users to feel inadequate regarding their computer skills. Individuals are forced to constantly learn new technologies and undergo frequent educational trainings. •Fewer completed work tasksDigitization can make it more difficult to assess completed tasks and can lead to the feeling of hardly making any work progress.•Interruptions in the workdayThe use of ICT often introduces frequent interruptions into individuals' daily work routine, leading to increased stress and lower productivity.•Unavailability and unreliabilityDue to e.g. organizational restrictions new technologies are prohibited and it comes to an increased workload because of unstable running systems. •Information overloadThe workload increases due to higher amount of provided information and acceleration of work.•Overload and invasionDue to the dissolution of boundaries between work and private life employees force to work faster and longer where ICTs is used. They feel of being constantly reachable and a shorter response time is expected.In the paper, results of an interview study will be presented. As part of the study, 19 semi-structured interviews have been conducted between the beginning of August 2022 and the beginning of November 2022 with a total of 17 experts from public administrations in Germany who deal with digital transformation in their administrations and three consultants who support public administration in the transformation process. In the interview study, first the above-mentioned stress factors of digital work affect employees (with and without management responsibility) in public administrations were be determined. Then, with the help of an interview guide, insights were gained which concrete measures can be taken to involve employees to reduce psychological stress factors. Furthermore, an outlook is given which competencies need to be developed in the long term about dealing with digital transformation, both on part of the employees and in the role as a manager, and which actions can be derived regarding manager-employee relationships. The qualitative content analysis of the transcribed interviews will be carried out according to the general content analytical process model according to MAYRING (2022). In the Paper, a focus is laid on the category formation of the content analysis and the summary of the text material with the most important findings. LiteratureGimpel, Henner et al. (2020): Belastungsfaktoren der digitalen Arbeit. Eine beispielhafte Darstellung der Faktoren, die digitalen Stress hervorrufen. Augsburg.Gimpel, Henner et al. (2018): Digitaler Stress in Deutschland. Eine Befragung von Erwerbstätigen zu Belastung und Beanspruchung durch Arbeit mit digitalen Technologien. Working Paper Forschungsförderung. Edt. Hans-Böckler-Stiftung (101).Mayring, Philipp (2022): Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse. Grundlagen und Techniken. 13., überarbeitete Auflage. Weinheim: Beltz (Ciando library). Online verfügbar unter

Keywords: human, oriented work design, mental health, public administration, digital work

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1003584

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