Good leadership and a fair corporate culture can prevent stress, exhaustion, pain and high incapacity for work. This follows from the report on the absence of the AOK Scientific Institute (WIdO) from 2020, which was presented on Tuesday morning. “In the absence of recognition and recognition and clear instructions from managers, employees suffer,” says Helmut Schröder, Deputy CEO of WIdO.
This suffering can be felt physically, psychologically and quantitatively measurable: Researchers from WIdO, Bielefeld University and Beuth University found significantly more physical and psychological complaints in the cluster of respondents who felt that they were being treated unfairly than by respondents who did so. they felt they were righteous.
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For example, 25.8 percent of dissatisfied people suffered almost continuously or constantly in back or joint pain during the four weeks before the survey, while the number was 11.9 percent satisfied. 21.1 percent of this group reported a feeling of burnout (satisfied: 4.6 percent), 18.1 percent of sleep disorders (satisfied: 4.1 percent). A total of 13 percent of respondents who felt injustice had emotional irritation or psychosomatic or physical difficulties. Of the employees who felt they had been treated fairly, only 3.4 percent had complaints.
Days of absence due to mental illness are increasing
While physical stress has often been emphasized in the past, changing demands on employees are increasingly leading to mental stress. Compared to 2008, the number of days of absence due to mental illness in the German economy increased by 40.7 percent by 2018, up from 64.2 percent among AOK insured persons.
The reason is also a shift in diagnosis and a more open culture of debate: While in the past a tense back was diagnosed, doctors now more often attribute such somatic problems to mental illness. In addition, the discussion climate has become more open, the report said. However, diagnoses of musculoskeletal disorders stagnated from 2008 to 2018 and injuries fell by 13.4 percent.
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The topic of corporate culture has repeatedly come to the fore in previous studies, says WIdO Vice Schröder. This year, therefore, researchers have tried to explore the relationship between a sense of justice in society, satisfaction, emotional irritation and leisure, mental and physical complaints, and finally days of incapacity for work and “days of work”.
“Overall, we see a positive picture: two thirds of respondents feel that their company is behind them,” says Schröder. On the contrary, a third of the support is missing – companies and executives could make improvements here.
Complaints may be related to a lack of justice
The study proves a causal chain between a sense of justice, satisfaction, and psychological and physical complaints. “Emotional irritation can hit the back,” says Schröder. If the employee then goes to work contrary to the medical recommendation, the employee may remain able to work for a short time. In the long run, however, this form of stress can mean more days of absence due to illness.
The figures also show a high positive correlation between a negative perception of justice and absenteeism: A group of employees who perceived their managers as unfair had an average of 17.6 days of absenteeism and 5.2 days came to work despite being ill (presenterism). Conversely, employees who consider their company fair have fewer days of absence (11.4 days of absence and 1.8 days of presentation).
“In summary, the fairer the manager, the happier the respondents and the greater their loyalty to society, which ultimately translates into less psychosomatic and emotional complaints and absences,” says Schröder. Even in times of flatter hierarchies, the manager is a crucial joint. If employees are not told the target direction, then it could also be visible in terms of health, says Schröder.
All the more important are clear rules in the home office
Even before the corona pandemic, WIdO observed a call for delimitation, for example in its 2019 absentee report on “digitization”. With the nationwide introduction of a home office in the Corona era, this could have affected even more employees, says Schröder: “Employees and society are in demand here: Because digital technologies are available around the clock, one of them needs greater self-discipline on the part of she turned it off and paid attention to the recovery times. ”
In addition, companies should support this through company health management offers, which should not end at the factory gates. Eliminating rituals such as space travel, lunch breaks and meetings is all the more necessary, says Schröder.
However, this also requires increased efforts in self-organization and exemption from the demands of society, as otherwise the effect of self-exploitation could have a negative impact on well-being and health. Employees should also not be put under pressure or let themselves be put under pressure and pay attention to rest periods, so Schröder.
On the one hand, the numbers show that most employees are committed – even among those who perceive companies and managers as fair, most employees still think about difficulties at work and after work. The values are exactly in the middle, so approval is about as large as rejection. “In the long run, constant availability and thinking is not good for anyone – the employee burns out and the employer has to take days off,” says Schröder.