PCs to blame for rise in stressed out workers

October 2, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers interested in stress at work have been concerned at the increased intensity of work in the EU over the past 20 years. A more detailed breakdown has shown that this increase between 1995 and 2005 occurred in all countries with only one exception, the UK. Our early adoption of computers may be the key.

Dr Brendan Burchell, a lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, published research last year which showed that since the mid 1990s there has been a decline in British employees’ perception of how intensely they work. After careful analysis he now believes that the spike in work in the UK was due to our early of pcs. Our growing understanding of technology has transformed it from a hindrance to a help in the workplace.

He will be speaking about his findings in October at this year’s Cambridge Festival of Ideas, a celebration of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

“Britons were five to ten years ahead of other countries in Europe in using computers,” says Dr Burchell. “At that point computers were less reliable and less user-friendly. People were given them in their workplace, but were not prepared for using them.”

He says managers often provided inappropriate systems for the jobs that needed to be done which led to an increase in people’s workloads and much frustration.

“Clerical workers were given word processors to do things they could more easily do on a typewriter. There was no infrastructure and no-one to turn to if things went wrong. European countries avoided this stage as they adopted computers later once IT had stabilised and there were common operating systems,” he says. He cites the advent of Windows 95 as a turning point.

Dr Burchell based his findings on an analysis of the European Working Conditions Survey. A large survey across all member states, it has asked people two questions in the same form every five years since 1990: what proportion of the time do you work at high speed? And what proportion of the time do you work to tight deadlines?

When he started looking at the data in the late 1990s it showed an increase in work intensity across Europe, which was seen by academics as being inevitable. The UK experienced a bigger rise than any other EU country. However, as he continued to look at the data over the next decade he noticed a shift in patterns. While work intensity was rising in other European countries, it was falling in the UK.

Dr Burchell believes that intensity has in part fallen because the general population, including managers, has developed a good understanding of technology through better ICT education in schools.

His interest in is part of his ongoing research on the effects of labour market experiences on psychological well-being.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Expert: Be concerned about how apps collect, share health data

October 20, 2017
As of 2016 there were more than 165,000 health and wellness apps available though the Apple App Store alone. According to Rice University medical media expert Kirsten Ostherr, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates ...

Three million Americans carry loaded handguns daily, study finds

October 19, 2017
An estimated 3 million adult American handgun owners carry a firearm loaded and on their person on a daily basis, and 9 million do so on a monthly basis, new research indicates. The vast majority cited protection as their ...

More teens than ever aren't getting enough sleep

October 19, 2017
If you're a young person who can't seem to get enough sleep, you're not alone: A new study led by San Diego State University Professor of Psychology Jean Twenge finds that adolescents today are sleeping fewer hours per night ...

Across Asia, liver cancer is linked to herbal remedies: study

October 18, 2017
Researchers have uncovered widespread evidence of a link between traditional Chinese herbal remedies and liver cancer across Asia, a study said Wednesday.

Eating better throughout adult years improves physical fitness in old age, suggests study

October 18, 2017
People who have a healthier diet throughout their adult lives are more likely to be stronger and fitter in older age than those who don't, according to a new study led by the University of Southampton.

Global calcium consumption appears low, especially in Asia

October 18, 2017
Daily calcium intake among adults appears to vary quite widely around the world in distinct regional patterns, according to a new systematic review of research data ahead of World Osteoporosis Day on Friday, Oct. 20.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rsklyar
not rated yet Oct 03, 2011
Plagiarism in a "family" style
How young ambitious capoes and soldiers from Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) under supervision of a decrepit american don-godfather from Northwestern University are successfully completed their sequential plagiaristic enterprise: http://issuu.com/...saivaldi

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.