According to a study of people working in the IT branch throughout Germany, there is a level of stress permeating the entire industry that can negatively impact health and productivity.
There are several predictable culprits, for example:
- Fewer people having to do more work due to the current economic situation.
- The expectation that one is available round the clock via several different types of media.
- The ever changing nature of information technology, resulting in an overwhelmed feeling.
The study cites 'new management techniques' involving the rollout of goals and frequent performance reviews. Sound familiar?
But wait, we like performance management and we sort of like goals. And frequent performance reviews are a plus for the employee, in fact some bold thinkers have even referred to timely and constructive feedback as part of employee compensation now that there's no money.
Plus, we all know that Generation Y loves regular reviews because they can't wait a whole year for feedback.
However, the researches who conducted this study warns that this can lead employees to feel like they have to permanently prove their right to be employed. And that can be unnecessarily - as in not value adding - stressful.
Because it creates a feeling of control and insecurity rather than trust.
And the results?
Well, for one thing, more people come to work when sick, which is not good for productivity or general workplace health. Or the national health care bill, come to mention it.
And of course team work tends to get shot to hell in this kind of paranoid, suspicious atmosphere.
But more importantly, highly qualified workers, who are expected to be pretty scarce in just a few years, are being systematically burned out.
This definitely raises some interesting questions about the level of stress of employees in other countries that have a less generous social net and vacation policy than Germany. Not to mention the possible social cost of stress related illnesses over the next decade.
In any event, it sounds like somebody's missing the boat on talent management. If done correctly, one doesn't expect big German men to cower in a corner weeping or laughing hysterically during a simple job satisfaction survey.
(This is why I always say you should talk to people, you don't get nearly as much depth from an online survey.)
What do you think, when does performance management turn into unhealthy micromanagement?