Category Archive Digitalization

TÜV Rheinland Academy Digital Competence

How TÜV Rheinland Academy empowers digital competence

How do I move safely on the net? How do I recognize a fake profile? How do I judge online communication, how do I distinguish real news from fake news? What is a Meme? Where do I reveal too much of my private life and become a potential victim of identity theft? These are all questions of digital literacy to which children and young people should have an answer. This makes them strong and resistant to the dangers of the internet and prepares them for their professional future. So far, however, digital competence is neither a teaching subject nor part of teacher training in Germany. TÜV Rheinland Academy in Germany is changing this – for example as a partner of DigiCamps. The resonance is unprecedented and has in the meantime the format of a movement, better said in the net speech: DigiCamps goes viral. The aim is to enable the specialists and managers of tomorrow to develop safely and healthily and to start here as early as possible: with schools and teachers.

2017 was the start of “DigiCamps – Life in Balance.” Since then, a republic-wide series has emerged that provides students, teachers, and parents with orientation on the World Wide Web. To provide didactically and pedagogically valuable information about the opportunities and risks of using the internet the social enterprise BG 3000 Service GmbH, the health insurance BARMER and TÜV Rheinland Academy Germany developed smart camps, teacher camps, trainee camps, and DigiCamps. Barmer is sponsoring the initiative, TÜV Rheinland Academy is one of the leading competence developers on board as part of the digital transformation. The primary motivation is that the acquisition of digital competence has to start early. Today and even more in the future, it belongs to the essential teaching contents such as reading, writing, and arithmetic. Parents and teachers must not be left alone with this task.

Optimizing the digital self and avoiding digital stress

A DigiCamp lasts three days and has a modular structure. It is aimed at students, mainly middle school students, teachers, and parents. In interactive workshops, they learn the safe and above all good use of digital media. The trainer teams consist of media educators, psychologists, nutrition and fitness experts and, above all, well-known social media influencers. Together, the participants deal with all facets of internet use. Questions about the functioning of Snapchat, Instagram, etc. are dealt with. The participants deal with the individual challenge of how to optimize their online self. They learn how to recognize addictive behavior in themselves and others and how to handle digital stress. By dealing with their usage patterns and without moral forefinger, the DigiCamps provide recommendations and orientation. Social media and mobile devices are part of life, but good use of them needs to be learned.

Hackers create “aha” effects

The DigiCamps start with impressive demonstrations that IT security specialists prepare according to age. With live hacking experiments, adults and teenagers will experience how quickly an e-mail account with weak passwords can be hacked. They are amazed when they experience the consequences of a travel ticket posted on Facebook and a thumbs up. A thumb recorded with an ordinary smartphone camera can be used to manipulate the fingerprint sensor on a mobile device. These “aha” effects about an unconsidered posting of personal information have a healing effect. Those who have participated in the DigiCamp will at least question their user behavior and ultimately change it.

Influencers clarify

Educating in the best sense of the word is also done by social media giants at the DigiCamps, who have tens of thousands of subscribers on Instagram or YouTube. For example, Irina Engelke (287,000 followers) and Laura Grosch (132,000 followers) report on their Instagram channels during the DigiCamps. Sebastian Meichsner from Bullshit TV, among others, will talk about their YouTube projects with over 1.8 million followers.

Influencers of this kind, who are still in adolescence themselves, inform their peers about the mechanisms of action of these popular platforms. In the workshops, they appeal to their practical experience to use their minds in dealing with social media. Under their guidance and accompanied by pedagogues, the participants on the second and third day create their videos, create blogs, or other digital formats. They also deal with conditions of production and reception. In this way, children and young people learn playfully and concretely how to deal responsibly with these media.

Great interest in the format also from third parties

By the end of 2019, DigiCamps should have taken place in at least 100 schools. The objective of the project is that the teaching staff will then be able to offer their own teaching formats for digital competence in their schools with the extensive teaching materials of the initiative. In the meantime, word of success has spread, and the unique role played by TÜV Rheinland Academy in the interdisciplinary project has become known. Further organizations in Germany and Switzerland are interested in the realization of DigiCamps at schools and with education providers.

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New Work: From profession to competence

If you’re going to remain competitive in the labor market, you have to develop your competencies. If you want to monetize your workforce, you have to be flexible and willing to learn. Hardly anyone works his whole life in the same profession. This applies to both companies and employees. In the USA, sometimes competencies are already more important than the vocational qualification once acquired. Is that the future?

The ever shorter half-life of once obtained knowledge has been further shortened with the advent of the computer, rationalization, and automation. Since the 1980s,  it has become increasingly clear that lifelong learning is essential in many occupations. The professional idea, which is based on having undergone a clearly defined education and which has since developed further through real on-the-job training, is becoming more and more defensive. Today, the profession is at best an entrance ticket to the foyer of professional life, which after a few years is hardly suitable as a ticket for the next levels of the career ladder.

New Work in the Age of Digitalization

In the developed economies of the West, further development of the professional idea can already be observed in the nineties. In the USA, labor market researchers and labor ministers such as Robert Reich already recognized in the first Clinton Administration since 1993 that the dependent middle class needed access to the labor market even without a university degree. Inspired by the theses of “New Work”, which the Austrian-American social philosopher Frithjof Bergman founded in the 1980s, employment and education programs were developed that no longer addressed the deficits of the rural unemployed, but rather the existing competence that needed to be developed. Starting from the thesis, which has been refuted today, that the job system is at its end, the freedom of action and independence of people beyond gainful employment must be promoted. After the New Work was discussed a dozen times up and down, the term is now experiencing a renaissance with digitalization, but with different signs. Again, the motive is to open access to the labor market to a detached “working class”. Unlike Bergman, however, it is not a question of the emancipation of the former industrial workers in the “Rust Belt”, as the Democrats call them “White Trash”. Rather, it is digitization and the shortage of skilled workers and the associated lack of digital skills in companies that have led to the emergence of new qualification programs in the USA.

TechHire relies on competencies beyond formal qualification

If you can do the job, you should get the job: Since 2015, the social enterprise TechHire has been expanding in the USA, operating over 200 training facilities in 72 municipalities in social partnership with 1,300 employers. The model is similar to a dual training program according to the German model. The experts use online entrance tests to identify competencies and interests. Discussions with potential employers follow this. After a few months of all-day training, the participants complete an internship in a company. A wide variety of local TechHire companies specialize in qualifications in technology industries. Specifically, they have improved matching between job seekers, employers, teachers, policy-makers and local training groups: the online tool “training finder“, developed by LinkedIn’s business network, links relevant information on competence profiles and income opportunities, skills required, training programs and vacancies for different job advertisements.

Thus even applicants who do not formally have any qualifications, but who have acquired competencies even in self-study, have a chance to specifically promote them in order to get them into jobs. Autodidacts, for example, who work on computers in their spare time also have a chance to get a job as a software tester with 40,000 dollars after a qualification. TechHire’s competence-oriented approach has already enabled companies to fill 4,000 vacancies that would otherwise remain vacant today.

Conclusion: Competence development creates a vocation

TechHire and its partners have thus managed in an unbureaucratic and, above all, intelligent way to make a contribution to reducing the shortage of skilled workers in companies and to imparting new individual perspectives to people by promoting competencies. A mission to which TÜV Rheinland Academy has committed itself, particularly in the field of technical professions. Digitalization is constantly creating new requirement profiles for which it is necessary to establish appropriate competence models that enable people and organizations to remain capable of action and to actively shape both the present and the future. Artificial intelligence, digitization and automation will create many new jobs that will have to be taken over by today’s “skilled workers”. The way there is competence development on the job, actively supported by companies that have recognized the value of lifelong learning. It is also important to lay the right foundations in the field of initial vocational training for young people and to start thinking about tomorrow’s requirements today. Application cases of TÜV Rheinland Academy, which as a partner supports governments in various countries worldwide in establishing competence development via the dual training system according to the German model, close the technical education gap between state schools and degrees and the requirements of the industry. In this way, people and companies are actively enabled to master the challenges of digital transformation. In individual cases, personnel certifications ensure that competencies are always up to date and ensure a uniform quality level of the employees in the company.

 

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Learning Trends 2019: Learning Apps and Extended Reality Increase

In 2019, digital media and methods in professional training, in particular, will continue to gain ground. This is reflected in the current “Learning Delphi,” a yearly trend monitor of the German mmb institute, think tank and driving force for innovation in education and learning. While Extended Reality (XR) is rapidly gaining in importance, wikis are slowly moving into the background over the years. According to experts in this study, web-based training is also losing its previously high position. It is clear that new digital technologies could slowly replace the old ones. The Trend Monitor is based on a survey of 65 education experts from companies, educational institutions and universities in Germany, according to which learning apps, explanatory videos, and digital learning assistants are top-rated.

The future of professional training is becoming even more digital, with social learning also gaining in relevance for 72 percent of the experts surveyed. Immersive learning applications are significant increasing: Extended Reality continues to grow. The term immersive is known from the gaming scene and means “deepening.” A recent study by the Turkish Gazi University in Ankara confirmed that XR has a positive influence on learning success. To teach their students how to assemble computer motherboards, Professor Dr. Ebru Kılıç Çakmak of the Faculty of Education used an immersive learning application. The marker-based XR application of educational researcher Çakmak, called “HardwareAR,” provided students with information about the properties of hardware components, ports, and assemblies. A control group acquired the theoretical and applied information about main board assembly from textbooks. The other students used the “HardwareAR” application. As a result, they were able to complete the assembly process in a shorter time and required less support. The AR students were significantly more successful than the textbook control group.

Blended learning, explanatory videos and learning apps clearly at the center
While training and further education in the craft trades can benefit from XR, other digital learning aids are on the advance in classically oriented professional training topics. Around 60 percent of the respondents to the “Learning Delphi” survey assume that “intelligent learning assistants” will establish themselves as an innovative form of learning over the next three years. Intended are systems that accompany learners through a learning process in dialogue form and remind them of deadlines and learning workloads. 97 percent of the experts regard Blended Learning and 89 percent Learning Apps as an increasingly important form of learning. The evergreen “Explanation Videos” is in second place with 94 percent. The importance of simulations has increased significantly from 36 to 53 percent. However, these findings may differ depending on age and generation and on the global average, as the following study shows:

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Where do most artificial intelligence professionals work?

In general, Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to the attempt to reproduce certain human decision-making structures, e.g. by building and programming a computer in such a way that it can work on problems relatively independently. Often, however, this also refers to imitated intelligence, whereby “intelligent behavior” is to be simulated using mostly simple algorithms, for example in computer games. The understanding of the term artificial intelligence often reflects the enlightenment idea of “man as machine”, the imitation of which is aimed at the so-called strong AI: to create an intelligence that is to mechanize human thinking,[1] or to construct and build a machine that reacts intelligently or behaves like a human being. (Source: Wikipedia) But even artificial intelligence cannot get far without humans. According to a survey on LinkedIn, the USA has the highest number of Artificial Intelligence (AI) experts in the world.

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How XR boosts technical competence

So-called XR technologies are enjoying great popularity in education. After all, Extended Reality (XR) can be used to convey a wide variety of learning content in an extremely practice-oriented way. But how does this actually work? An overview.

Try it. It’s about studying: That’s why flight simulators have been around for almost as long as the aircraft itself. The first were built more than a hundred years ago and consisted of mobile platforms that could be used to simulate the most important flight movements. A seat, a joystick, a few ball joints: these were the beginnings of pilot training.

Immerse yourself in virtual learning worlds
Today, on the other hand, the first dry runs for young pilots feel much more realistic – not least because airlines are increasingly relying on so-called XR technologies for pilot training. XR stands for Extended Reality and combines different virtual technologies under one roof. In modern flight simulators, for example, virtual reality tools play a major role. This allows challenging situations such as storms or engine failures to be simulated realistically. The advantage: Those who have already familiarized themselves with the imponderables of airspace in a flight simulator will be much more familiar with the first real cross-country flights. To make such realistic experiences possible on the ground, you only need two things: VR glasses and a computer program that generates the desired environment. When the user puts on the VR glasses, he can immerse himself in this artificially generated environment and move freely in it virtually. In contrast to a film or video game, it is no longer an observer, but part of the scenery.

Augmented Reality (AR): adding information to the real world
While VR technologies enable immersion in virtual worlds, augmented reality (AR) enriches reality with artificial elements. In concrete terms, this means that users remain in the real world, where they can perceive not only real information, but also computer-generated information or content. In other words: VR technologies put the user in a virtual environment. AR, on the other hand, brings virtual objects into the real world.

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AR technologies are also used for training purposes. For example, trainees with special glasses can safely work on virtual welding objects, as it is already the case with the training at TÜV Rheinland Academy. With the help of TÜV Rheinland, RWE Power has also simplified training for maintenance work on bucket wheel excavators and other heavy equipment using XR technologies – and can thus relieve operators of large equipment. To this end, maintenance personnel are trained via data goggles so that they can perform their tasks safely for people and the environment and effectively – even if their last assignment was a few months ago. Different levers and switches are visualized through the glasses in the form of holograms, functions of the switching elements in the driver’s cab are explained in detail, work processes are explained step by step. The application is not faded in statically in the image field, but blends seamlessly into the real environment. In the case of RWE, this means that the training of maintenance personnel not only takes place in the “classroom”, but also on the heavy equipment itself. The application, developed by TÜV Rheinland’s Digital Learning team, detects the shovel excavator’s driver’s cab and positions the hologram of each control element exactly where it should be. This enables maintenance personnel to find all the necessary levers and switches in no time at all and to apply the practical knowledge acquired by AR in practice without any problems.

XR – an important trend in the teaching of technical skills
It is not for nothing that XR technologies are regarded as an important future trend in the education sector. They pave the way for location-independent and thus cost-effective training courses, are much more fun than conventional training courses and – most importantly – ensure that the practical transfer of theoretical learning content is successful. Accordingly, TÜV Rheinland Academy is currently consistently expanding its range of XR training solutions, for example in the area of forklift driving licenses or in the area of mobility and engineering. As the Chinese philosopher Confucius says: “Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember; involve me and I will understand

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In 48 hours to more employee health

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stress is one of the greatest health threats of the 21st century. It can hit anyone and cause massive mental and physical problems. For this reason alone, employers should find the right way to deal with stress in the workplace early on and consistently, and support employees as needed. Find out how well this works.

Psychological stress at the workplace is increasing. As a result, the health insurance funds in Germany alone have been recording a steady increase in stress-related sick leave for years. Of about 15 days of absence per capita and year, an average of 2.5 days are currently spent on psychological complaints. According to a recent survey, one in five workers across Europe is under stress every day and one in three is thinking about moving to a less stressful job.

Stress costs the economy billions

Mental illnesses also cost the economy dearly. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the economic costs of mental illness in the European Union (EU) alone amount to around 600 billion Euros annually. Especially since many countries now even prescribe the risk assessment of psychological stress at the workplace by law. Workplace health management therefore pays off for companies in every respect. But not every professional requirement is detrimental to health. Thus, stress in moderation can also encourage higher performance, promote personal development and give positive impulses for the quality of life and work. It is therefore crucial for companies to recognize at an early stage what strains have negative impacts on the workforce and its motivation.

Facts decide

But how can well-founded insights be gained beyond the subjective statements of employees? With the Resilience Check, TÜV Rheinland for the first time offers a program that objectifies the subjectively felt physical and mental stress of employees on the basis of reliable measured values – from heart health to sleep quality and recovery to general fitness. The resilience check provides companies with an instrument for realistically assessing the physical effects of stress on the workforce – and initiating long-term, needs-based preventive measures. This makes it a useful addition to risk assessment and becomes a valuable element of occupational health and safety and health management.

Determine individual stress factors

On the one hand, the individual employee benefits. After the online questionnaire on the physical condition (e.g. high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, sleep quality) and psychological condition (work-related behavior and experience pattern) in the context of their work has been completed, a chest strap measurement is carried out. On two ideal working days, different vital data on heart health, sleep quality, stress and physical activity are measured using a sensor that is attached to the skin like a plaster under the breast. A personal health report is automatically delivered at the end of the measurement. On the other hand, the company receives an anonymous company report for the targeted planning of company prevention measures: With simple anonymized comparison values across e.g. departments or locations, focal points for action are prioritized.

A classic win-win situation: employees learn which stress factors particularly motivate or burden them, employers get a holistic picture of the state of health of their own workforce – and can then focus on health prevention. For example, by realigning work processes, planning additional resources or designing offers for occupational health prevention in a target-group-specific manner, whether health advice, planning measures or introducing a holistic occupational health management system. Learn more about how you can optimize your workplace health management:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/1667794604145327885 (German only)

 

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9 Tips on how learning to learn!

“Not for school, for life we learn.” The Roman philosopher Seneca already knew that. The logical consequence of this realization is lifelong learning. We will show you how to stay on the ball with the right learning strategy.

App developers, data scientists, Artificial Intelligence experts: Digitization is already creating numerous new job profiles. According to estimates by the World Economic Forum, 65 percent of children attending primary school today will end up in occupations that do not yet exist. On the other hand, traditional craft trades, for example, will increasingly disappear from the scene.

Anyone who wants to gain a foothold in the professional world of tomorrow has to be flexible and open to new ideas. One thing’s for sure: At a time when employees are constantly confronted with changing conditions and requirements, it is important to learn. And not only in studies and training. It’s best to do it for life. Whether education courses, e-learning, webinars, coaching, training or certifications – the offer of possibilities is vast.

Nevertheless, only every second person makes use of it. Some shy away from the effort, others fear to fail because of the learning material. No wonder, after all, it has been several years since many employees last went to school. And some people already had a hard time learning back then. This makes it all the more important to relearn or re-learn the targeted (intentional) or incidental (implicit) acquisition of new skills. With the right learning strategy, nothing can stop the learning success, even for adults. You should consider the following points:

  • Set schedule
    Unstructured and unorganized learning rarely leads to success. Instead, you should define fixed learning times for yourself. It is better to learn an hour every day than to spend the whole weekend studying. Tip: An organizer helps you to prioritize tasks and process them in a targeted manner.
  • Define milestones
    Intermediate goals ensure that the motivation to learn does not diminish over time. So set different sub-goals right from the start – and reward yourself if one of them is achieved. The advantage is that you can easily keep an eye on both the path you have already reached and the path ahead of you.
  • Determine personal learning style
    While some people expand their knowledge through the consumption of specialist books, others learn better through listening, watching or trying out. Find out whether you are a visual, auditory, motor or communicative learner. You can then put together the best learning techniques for yourself.
  • Use suitable tools
    There are a number of different methods for internalizing the teaching material: from the classic index card system, to notes, mind maps and learning posters, to practical experiments and learning groups, help to anchor numbers, data and facts permanently in the brain.
  • Learning with all senses
    The more sensory channels are involved in the learning process, the better what has been learned is internalized. Who only listens during learning, keeps 20 percent of the teaching material, who uses eye and ear, already 50 percent remain in the memory. It is best to bundle visual, auditory, motor and communicative tools. Because then the memory rate even rises up to 90 percent.
  • Creating (free) spaces for learning
    Just insert a short learning unit on the sofa during the TV commercial break? Forget it! Learning requires concentration. The prerequisites for this are a calm atmosphere, a fixed learning location and regular breaks in which the brain can process the information it has acquired.
  • Bringing in a horizon of experience
    Children usually learn faster, while adults benefit from a wealth of knowledge acquired over the years. Use this so-called “crystalline intelligence” and link the subject matter with your personal experiences and insights. This improves your learning success.
  • Keep moving
    Movement activates the motor centers of your brain that are involved in the processing and storage of information. In other words, content is easier to internalize if you move while learning. So when you’re learning, get up from time to time and take a few steps.
  • Practice, practice, practice!
    Practice makes it perfect: regular training enables what has been learned to be permanently anchored in the brain. Never rest on your laurels, but also repeat knowledge that you have already mastered.

 

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Don’t stop dreaming! 

Astronaut, professional soccer player, princess: Do you still remember what you once wanted to become? Not all childhood dreams come true. But sometimes the dream job is still only a stone’s throw away. Let yourself be inspired – by success stories around the globe.

Times are changing. Career desires hardly do: For decades, little boys have dreamed of becoming police officers or pilots, girls usually want a professional career as (veterinary) doctors or teachers. However, Sophia was different: She liked to tinker with technology, even at an early age. Pin toys, Lego robots, computers – she wasn’t satisfied until she knew exactly how something worked. Later, she dreamed of running her own IT company. A dream she realized: Together with two friends, Sophia founded her own Start Up. ” To keep my business growing, I have to keep up with the latest technology,” she says. The instructors at TÜV Rheinland Academy are there to help her. They themselves have practical experience and are dedicated to you with innovations and digitization.

> In this video you can get to know the whole story of Sophia.

Happiness makes you productive

TÜV Rheinland Academy is specialized in training and further education in technical professions and offers companies, graduates and professionals a wide range of opportunities to develop their personal potential. Mohammed from India has also benefited from it. Initially, he wanted to be a racing driver. Today, he works as a mechatronics engineer for an international automotive group. Not least because with the Vocational Training of TÜV Rheinland Academy he experienced exactly the dual vocational training based on the German model, which is the basis for getting an opportunity for a job interview with global players. He made it, although he came from a modest background and lacked the money for education. “The education was financially supported and was outstanding. That’s why I can live my dream today,” he says. Good for his employer! After all, studies show that happy employees are about 20 percent more productive than their dissatisfied colleagues.

> In this video you can get to know the whole story of Mohammed.

There could be more people like Sophia or Mohammed worldwide. According to the Gallup Engagement Index in the USA, just one in three employees (33 percent) still feels emotionally committed to his job. And that is already the world’s top value. In the European Union, only one in ten employees (11 percent) is happy with his or her job, while one in four (25 percent) has already mentally resigned.

Why is that? On the one hand, many companies concentrate exclusively on their day-to-day business and thereby lose sight of employee development. On the other hand, even employees do not pursue their career goals consistently enough. John’s example shows that things can be different: Already as a child, he was very ambitious. Today, he works in his dream job and moves heavy construction frames as a crane operator. It wasn’t always easy to get there. “I started at the bottom, but I always kept an eye on my goal,” John remembers. Then his employer financed his training as a crane operator, and he passed the examination at PersCert TÜV. For him, personnel certification is not just a degree, but a kickoff for a successful international career that offers him many opportunities.

> In this video you can get to know the whole story of John.

Tailor-made e-learning offers for individual careers

So it’s not always the direct route that leads to the dream job, but that’s exactly what you should expect and inform yourself accordingly. Especially the increasing digitalization and automation offers exciting, sometimes undreamed of development possibilities. Today, for example, it is no longer necessary to study computer science to protect companies from hackers, viruses and other threats. Jane can prove this: she decided not to study and instead took tailor-made e-learning courses at TÜV Rheinland Academy. Today, she works as an IT expert and continues to focus on digital training. “Together with TÜV Rheinland Academy, for example, we have developed a customized course on cybersecurity for our company,” she says. “It is working out really well!”

> In this video you can get to know the whole story of Jane.

Paul also opted for a training course at TÜV Rheinland Academy as part of his continuing education program and was very enthusiastic about the practice-oriented courses. Without hesitation, he applied to be a trainer. With success. Today, he shares his expertise with young professionals and executives around the world. “I used to be a great electrical engineer at home. Today, I’m creating new ideas worldwide,” he proudly states. “It’s nice that I can share my dream with so many people and pass on my knowledge myself – so that others may also realize their dream.”

> In this video you can get to know the whole story of Paul.

We hope you haven’t given up dreaming either! Find out more about how the services offered by TÜV Rheinland Academy have supported Sophia, Mohammed, John, Jane and Paul on their career paths, or find out for yourself what opportunities are available to you worldwide through training and further education at TÜV Rheinland Academy. Find out more on www.tuv.com/academy.

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7 Myths of leadership – that you should forget

In the context of digital transformation, how can and how should managers and executives ensure with qualified leadership that teams and individual employees remain healthy, qualified and motivated – despite the stress brought on them by change and dynamic working conditions? For example, first of all be self-critical: After all, if things don’t run smoothly in the company, productivity and innovation rates fall short of expectations and the company falls steadily behind in the market, this can be caused by the coexistence of traditional and modern management models. Some executives like to cling to outdated models of staff management – and at the same time hope to somehow manage to survive the change. Dr. Sven Grote, who also talked about the TÜV Rheinland dialog “Human and health”, addresses the most important management myths.Read More

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How does the culture of prevention succeed?

Today, VUCA shapes the modern working world: it is subject to volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, that is what we today call digital transformation and the associated disruption. In times of VUCA, what does that mean for the health of workers and the competitiveness of the company?  This central question goes to Prof. Dr. med. Joachim E. Fischer in an interview with tr-academy.com. The Director of the Mannheim Institute for Public Health at the Medical Faculty Mannheim of the University of Heidelberg sees in the “FreuSinn” – joy at work – a central factor for a healthy and motivating Leadership 4.0. In his opinion, the thesis that prevention is better than cure – is more relevant than ever.

In your opinion, how can one reconcile protecting employee health and the competitiveness of a company?

Traditionally, the culture of prevention has been meant: We protected employee health with technical measures designed to reduce exposure to risk. We have achieved an exemplary high standard in this regard. Today, digitalization has taken over the workplace and has increased the amount of knowledge work employees do. The demand for flexible, individualized solutions is increasing, especially in industrial settings. This is changing the kinds of health protection we need to provide. Averting physical risks is taking a back seat and it’s becoming more important to strengthen employees’ ability to cope with challenges. Adding to the complexity is an increasing unpredictability and uncertainty, often even contradictions, which are not exactly diminished by current political upheavals, whether it’s Brexit or American tariffs.

But people need sufficient security in order to tap their potential. The culture of prevention in the sense of using conventional health campaigns such as veggie day in the staff cafeteria, health awareness days, or healthy back training is far too short-sighted. By taking the opportunity to find out what will help employees develop their potential and thus increase the company’s competitiveness is often good for their overall mental health. The aim here is to find the best possible intersections: this is at the heart of the new “culture of prevention.”

You see having a sense of joy (“FreuSinn”) as a central factor of the culture of prevention in the sense of a healthy and motivating Leadership 4.0. What exactly do you mean by this?

Originally, it was out of pure scientific curiosity that we asked more than 20,000 people whether they look forward to going to work in the morning when they wake up and whether their work helps them see their lives as meaningful. We were quite surprised when those employees who could fully agree with both statements were healthier, even down to biological markers, and described themselves as more effective. We decided to name this phenomenon “FreuSinn.” Obviously it is joy, not fun, and experiencing the job as meaningful is vital to these people. It is close to what others have described as “flow.” And we know from neurobiological research that the frontal lobe of the brain is particularly active when these conditions are active. It is in the frontal lobe where we think, decide, invent, judge, plan. In other words, exactly those things today’s knowledge-based economy and society need.

If a company’s ability to create value increasingly depends on employees’ using the frontal lobes of their brains and not shutting that aspect of their humanity down when they cross the entrance gates, then it is up to managers at all levels of the hierarchy to create the conditions for more joy and meaningfulness at work. This does not necessarily make the management task any easier, because there are no simple formulas to follow. Sometimes it might involve simplifying disruptive processes. It might be allowing certain people to work from home or it might involve firing people that are disrupting the team with their poisonous attitudes. An important task in this regard is to cushion the ubiquitous uncertainty credibly, whether it is uncertainty caused by fixed-term contracts (like we have in research) or the uncertainty caused by turbulent markets. And because many people react more irritably under stress and with increasing exhaustion, taking care of the workplace atmosphere day in, day out becomes all the more important.

We recently evaluated data from a representative study conducted by the German Labor Ministry, which included both an internationally used scale for mental well-being and a scale for measuring enthusiasm, commitment, and passion for work. The results showed that 40% of employees are both committed and engaged in their work and also mentally healthy. So a job that keeps you healthy has long been a real possibility. Empirical data from several studies even agree that people who voluntarily work longer and feel useful have longer lives. Managers must therefore ask themselves how they can increase the sense of joy and meaningfulness at work both today and in the future tomorrow from their own strength without extensive training. Whether it’s city cleaning, nursing care for the elderly, working the assembly line, or in an architecture firm. We know companies in every industry that can do this. They have low absenteeism rates, and they generate great added value with their work. Almost nothing has a more lasting effect than genuine sincere recognition for good performance. And not in the form of a bonus payment at the end of the year, but with a grateful handshake immediately.

We have collected our own data to compare the effects of convention health campaigns with that of creating a sense of joy and meaningfulness at work. While 10% healthier behaviors only contribute 1% to employee health and just over half a percent to productivity, 10% more joy and a sense of meaning bring about 5% more productivity. It’s no wonder why SAP’s Business Health Culture Index, where half the questions measure the quality of leadership and support, has become a significant internal key performance indicator for SAP. PWC calculated on SAP’s behalf that a 1% improvement in the Business Health Culture Index translates into €65-75 million more profit. This is no secret; it has been published online in SAP’s annual report. Anyone who thinks conventional health campaigns will be enough will, in the long run, not be able to exploit the full potential of holistic health management.

What opportunities do you see in bargaining agreements that can’t be solved by the healthcare system?

The healthcare system is excellent when it comes to treating acute illnesses with clear medical causes and treatment options. However, the healthcare system is not at all equipped to maintain employees’ ability to work and create value. If, for example, employees are so mentally restricted that, although they still function day-to-day and aren’t in need to psychiatric hospitalization, they will no longer be able to work in a way that creates value. We have to define a new culture of prevention. Our healthcare system only offers waiting times and no solutions. So there is a gap between conventional, technical health protection measures and the healthcare system which is yearning for healthcare that includes psycho social aspects. This applies to a wide range of potential offerings aimed at the individual, such as family assistance in problem situations such as caring for relatives, early intervention in cases of pain or psychological complaints, and meaningful attempts at making working hours or locations more flexible.

But this affects especially how we design work, that is, the conditions under which people work. Whereas the focus was once on emissions, noise, dangers, and lighting, it’s the psycho social impact and mental noise that we now need to get under control. What gets forgotten in all these risk assessments is that the mind also benefits from resources that will help it to overcome challenges. So it’s not just a question of reducing burdens and averting dangers. Unlike the technical prevention of risks, the most important thing for the mind is that which strengthens it. You can’t avert the cancer risk from asbestos through your mood. But you can solve a big task together as a team and what remain are the sense of achievement and the certainty and confidence of being able to solve the next problem together again, too.

When I was a child, Esso gas stations used to advertise with the “tiger in the tank.” The “tiger in the tank” for value creation is increasing the experience of joy and meaningfulness at work. The cover story of the current issue of Harvard Business Review is: “When work has meaning: how to turn purpose into performance.”

Professor Fischer, thank you for speaking with us.