The Eurocadres blog
Digital transformation: can psychosocial risks be smuggled out in the cloud?
Digitally reframing structures and processes may impair our capacity to deal with psychosocial risks (PSR).
When getting out of her boss’s office this Monday morning, Mary was pretty shaken. She had been summoned by her boss with a risk of getting fired for disorganizing her team. She faces dismissal. Mary suffers a kidney condition, something she has always managed to cope with in her professional/personal life. However, the illness is immediate and unpredictable, thus forcing her to sometimes take a few hours off in order to rest and heal.
For the past fifteen years, the ever-growing presence of technology has changed our lives, our habits, and our working structures. Processes’ acceleration and adaptation being these structures’ main cornerstones.
For the past fifteen years, the ever-growing presence of technology has changed our lives, our habits, and our working structures.
Today, within companies, it is taken as granted that evolution is an everyday struggle. Hence, the necessity for a company’s every actor (regardless of one's place in the hierarchy) to make sure her/his skills are up to date, and will be tomorrow. A strong paradox seems to be building up: how to accept that tomorrow’s processes can change within the company, but that the human factor must remain identical, in order to integrate the changes as they come? Can tomorrow for humans be more foreseeable than tomorrow’s processes?
Our minds and bodies are submitted every day to an infinite flow of tiny variations and movements. They have a lot to deal with. A stressful situation is blocking the concentration, stretches nerves, reduces the scope of ideas’ capacity. It’s a typical day in professional life. Digital thinking, though supposedly a gain in time enables the worker to put everything aside in order to deal with what the impalpable in the digital process demands. This paradox runs by the hour. However, can the mind and body survive this permanent entreaty? Does this mean a worker has to be ever ready to receive continuing digital suggestions? Is technology supposed to receive our human requests… or is it the opposite that is happening?
A stressful situation is blocking the concentration, stretches nerves, reduces the scope of ideas’ capacity. It’s a typical day in professional life.
The digital quintessential potential is to anticipate and gather back-ups when setbacks happen, and therefore, to prevent PSRs from happening, and perhaps even from occurring. Digital transformations implemented with success (that is, with a long-term scope) in companies have allowed to deal with client’s better suited response, data collecting and reduced margins of error. Meaning that technology, when successfully instigated, is striving towards quality.
So how come management gets confronted with less and less time in taking care of worker’s health? Especially when there are so many tools to analyze health states. And when psychological issues are raised, it is even worse, obviously for the lack of understanding or knowledge from management, but also because workers have perniciously become a simple continuity in digital processing. They are considered a moment within the chain of events. And this moment is caught within the self-realized denial that health is a kind of weakness for digital processes. It has become especially true within big companies, where short-term rentability is expected.
There are many ways to solve this conundrum. Alas a few are in practice. Essentially, companies face a lack of time, sometimes a lack of will. Maybe a first answer might be to integrate a knowledge-management base, so as to forecast the main issues for a smart PSR/digital transformation balance. Knowing the history of a worker’s condition might help transcend problems when they arise. It is also a constructive dynamic to show to other workers. It may help to pinpoint specific jobs or services more inclined to PSRs. Furthermore, a company might use it as a trademark as digital tools allow workers to rate their companies online.
Knowing the history of a worker’s condition might help transcend problems when they arise.
Project and program management tools should also be implemented as a second step, in order to drive the process, create follow-ups, and forecast new unforeseen issues (such as Mary’s one).
Last but not least, the concept of "tanking"can be considered as a capacity for reframing this ongoing digital transformation of our lives at work. A strategy inspired by NBA and MLB recruiters, tanking (as a concept for companies) would consist of spending some time on… losing time. Actually, allowing time to slow down processes in the short run will increase productivity and profitability in the long run.
PSRs are no currency.
Under the threat of being fired and shown as a bad example among her colleagues for simply being ill, Mary will become less and less productive. She will also naturally abandon her faith in her job, or even in her company, if management does not seize the problems with psychosocial risk factors. PSRs are no currency. But they definitely are our every day’s common ground if treated as a way to get and act better.