Category Archive Management

Scapegoat TÜV Rheinland failure culture

How failures can drive innovation

There are failures, which must not happen because the extent of the damage is so monstrous. Exploding steam boilers, unmaintained power plants, or industrial plants endanger human lives. High-risk technology has therefore been regularly tested by the technical monitoring associations for over 100 years. Organizations also have rules, plans, and controlling routines in place to avoid failures or minimize damage. Governments also create legislation that defines correct behavior and the limits within which companies and their stakeholders are allowed to operate. However, this does not always prevent human error. Because people make mistakes. But: mistakes are valuable when causers and their organizations learn from them. However, this requires a culture of failure and learning. This is the only way to prevent repetitions and minimize financial and reputational damage. A culture of error and learning becomes a critical success factor for the introduction of agile corporate structures.

Unlike intentional actions, which may be punishable by law, failures are unintentional deviations from rules and regulations. In most cases, they have little impact. Often it doesn’t even turn out when employees make failures out of scabbiness or stress. The indirect consequences, however, can cause long-term damage. Poor service or recurring staff mistakes can lead to damage to reputation or to customer churn and lost revenue. If such errors happen in a hospital or nursing home, people can die as a result. If a faulty or manipulated software does not affect dozens but millions of customers, this can seriously get a company into trouble. Financial and reputational damage, as well as fines resulting from court rulings, can jeopardize the very existence of groups of companies. Economic history is full of companies that have relegated from the Champions League to the regional league or disappeared in just a few years.

Complexity, uncertainty and acceleration increase with digitalization

In contrast to the pre-digital age, the introduction of computers, the Internet, and algorithms to automate processes has increased speed. Innovation cycles follow at ever shorter intervals, forcing companies to act quickly as a result of global and digitally accelerated competitive pressure. Thinking and clean analysis are replaced by hectic activity. Errors are inevitable in such situations. In a study by Ernst & Young entitled “Error culture in German companies,” the consulting firm interviewed exactly 800 employees and 218 managers from the mechanical engineering, transport and logistics, automotive manufacturer and supplier, banking, and insurance sectors. Approximately 80 percent of managers stated that they had made failures in the last two years. As a result, they disrupted operations, delayed projects, and caused reputational damage. And according to the majority assessment of the employees, failures were also covered up in their companies. Because the employees said that only 45 percent of the managers could admit their errors. 57 percent of employees also believe that flaws in companies are covered up because employees have to fear that they will suffer consequences as messengers of bad news. And only 40 percent in top management talk openly about errors and thus give a positive signal that they deal with errors constructively and productively.

Development teams are more successful with a culture of error

In the reality of German companies, however, the culture and management of errors are rather bleak. Only nine percent of employees experience productive handling of errors in their company. And in only four percent, there is an error culture that promotes open communication across hierarchical levels. This finding is frightening, especially as there is probably a greater willingness at the team level to talk about failures. This is also urgently required because more and more companies are introducing agile project groups beyond IT development, delegating responsibility, and reducing hierarchical levels. As long as agile units achieve their goals, they are celebrated. If they fail and mistakes happen, old patterns of blaming and scapegoating often take hold. There is no systematic analysis to learn from failure. Agile units, however, make mistakes because they usually operate on treacherous terrain with a high degree of complexity and drive the transformation processes in a company forward. Only a systematically established error culture that functions at all levels and fast management of errors can remedy this situation. Companies could learn this from the agile development methods known from IT, such as Scrum, Design Thinking, and DevOps. Because here, productive handling of errors in the development process is part of the system. During the development of these programming methods, cost-benefit-oriented handling of failures has been established. Errors and their rapid elimination are institutionalized as usual. Since not all requirements can be known at the beginning of a complex IT project, since completely new functions prove to be useful in the development process and since feedback with the client also results in completely unexpected challenges, regular review loops are a matter of course. Agile development methods are, therefore, relatively fault-tolerant in the beginning and organize fast feedback loops after each development stage, so-called sprints. Instead of investing in error prevention, agile methods integrate evaluation and rapid test management in incremental processes. This leads to the relaxed handling of failures in project teams. A black Peter game to prove failure to individual team members becomes superfluous. The involvement of the client in the test management increases transparency. And with this error culture, an open approach and a quick correction are created, which in turn increases the pace of development.

Integrating fault management into corporate culture

Now one cannot compare a medium-sized company or a group of companies with a project group of developers, which perhaps has 15 or 30 employees. But companies can learn from the principles of agile process design. They face three challenges: Error management needs a cultural anchoring, needs clear structures, and has to start with the executives. Cultural anchoring is part of the corporate guidelines. In this, the company should define itself as a learning organization that deals openly with failures, promote constructive criticism internally at all hierarchical levels, and strives for transparent communication in dealing with errors. Structurally, a simple system of mutual evaluation should ensure that failures can be identified and discussed in good time. All those involved must recognize the added value that structural fault management offers. Because with the experience that positive changes result from it, and everyone benefits from it, the willingness and motivation to change also increases. Perhaps the most difficult challenge is to establish an error culture in management at all management levels. For it is not enough to make commitments and make Sunday speeches at works meetings. As role models, their behavior and handling of mistakes are decisive for how an error culture can be put into practice in a company. To encourage managers to adopt an open culture of error, training, and coaching offers as well as analyses of Industrial and Organizational Psychologists (IO-Psych) have proven their worth. Here, occupational psychologists accompany managers and their teams at various levels. With their expertise, individual or group consultations, they can positively promote the process so that error management can be successfully established.

Conclusion

Through failure management, companies can not only limit their financial and reputational damage caused by unavoidable errors. In the long term, the ability of an organization to learn increases. In the minds of managers and employees, a process mindset with joint evaluation emerges as to how teams, departments, and areas can improve their work and also their cooperation with customers, cooperation partners, and suppliers. Through networking, joint reflection, and open communication, companies are becoming more agile overall and can thus better master the challenges of digitalization.

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Digital Workplace: Employees need skills and mindset

Mobility, flexibility and networked cooperation play an essential role in today’s world of work. Companies can better meet these challenges by introducing the Digital Workplace. The Digital Workplace is a central work environment that employees can access from any location and at any time. It comprises all sets of access infrastructures, applications and device platforms required by information or knowledge workers to perform their work and collaborate. All data is in one place and is quickly and easily accessible. At the digital workplace, employees are more self-determined, freer and therefore more efficient. That is the company view. Employees may see things differently. What are the consequences? 

A central working environment that inspires collaboration and teamwork, intelligently links knowledge and know-how and provides integrated data and information in a smart way. What sounds like music to entrepreneurs and process optimizers would be formulated in a completely different way by some employees: “I have to be available at all times” – “I have less free time” – “Sooner or later I will get cut off”. To put it clearly: the skepticism towards the Digital Workplace is prevalent among the working population. In May 2019, the German opinion research portal Civey asked about the expectations of employees regarding the development of the workload due to digitization. 44.2 percent of respondents believe it would increase significantly or rather. Just as many participants said that people were not at the center of the development of digital technologies; only 20.7 percent believed this. After all, many recognized the advantages of a digital workplace. All in all, however, despite all fears, the acceptance of digitization in professional life is increasing. In an online survey conducted by market researchers at EARSandEYES in May 2019, 60 percent regarded digital change as a gain.

24/7 collaboration increases productivity

Concerns about the Digital Workplace as well as hopes of improving work processes are justified. The former are based on the recognition that the Digital Workplace intervenes massively in the work processes of every employee. A digital workplace requires quick reactions, willing sharing of knowledge and also means that in a team, for example, everyone can see whether someone is available online. Mutual control and transparency can also reduce silo thinking, domination and intrigue. In addition, the Digital Workplace makes classic departmental and hierarchical structures obsolete because applications are all on one platform, isolated solutions can be resolved, data management becomes more consistent, collaboration functions support cross-departmental project structures and promote rapid reaction to changing market and customer requirements. Old power and responsibility relationships are a thing of the past.

With mobile access to business applications, time- and location-dependent working time models are lost. This means that employees can be reached around the clock, especially in virtual teams distributed around the globe. Even if this facilitates collaboration with colleagues, customers, suppliers and partners and increases productivity, the real-time flow of communication can become a burden. Dedicated employees, in particular, run the risk of losing their work-life balance if they can be reached at all times and are under constant internal pressure.

Technology also needs a digital cultural change

In addition to the burnout risks, companies should also pick up employees who are skeptical or hostile to new technologies. To ensure that the Digital Workplace actually supports agile work leads to improved collaboration across existing silo structures and increases productivity, users must also adapt their work processes and self-management. The introduction of technology in itself is not yet digitalization, and no employee changes his or her working method by work instructions, becoming more open and accessible for collaborative sharing of knowledge. Nor can a willingness to help or commitment to new challenges in other departments be ordered. Therefore, with the introduction of digital workplaces, companies should also initiate a digital cultural change. The “rules of the game” can help to promote acceptance of the technology and the new work processes and simultaneously prevent a complete dissolution of boundaries between work and private life. A company must be present 24/7, but not its employees. E-mails at night or on weekends should be taboo in a digital culture. Downtime should not be frowned upon but encouraged. In such a culture, employees must also develop their own digital skills. It is helpful, for example, if HR departments offer systematic competency management for employees. The result is to support employees in expanding their learning abilities to expand their competencies through further training follows the content and technical requirements. This is the only way to create a new mindset with which digital processes can be lived successfully, without sending employees from one overload to the next.

Conclusion: Digitalization must put people at the center of attention

There is no alternative to accelerated digitization of all areas of work. But dealing with technology and people will probably decide how successful companies will be in global digital competition. In addition to technology, this also requires the commitment of employees.

Human-Centered Workplace: The Digital Workplace is more than the introduction of innovative technology; it must consider the needs and requirements of all employees. Ideally, the Digital Workplace places the employee at the center and examines his or her working methods and processes, while the Digital Workplace becomes the Human-Centered Workplace. Daily recurring processes and complex tasks should be automated in a way that they become really easier for the user. The HR and IT departments ideally work hand in hand in the development and implementation of the Digital Workplace.
Employee development: Changes will hardly be possible without competent employees. They need to be trained in applications, be able to recognize connections and develop awareness for the advantages of the new way of working. Important: IT employees should also be involved here.  Active competence management is based, among other things, on a systematic GAP analysis of employees and compensates for possible weaknesses in the use of tools and new structures.
Promoting employee satisfaction: Freedoms such as flexible, self-determined and locally self-determined work such as home office and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) promote the acceptance of the Digital Workplace, the commitment and satisfaction of employees can increase. However, higher productivity and better performance should not be cannibalized by increased pressure on employees.
Workplace Support: There is no need for information overload. Technology today allows us to provide employees with the information they need to do their jobs, in the right form, at the right time. Every company has to find its way.

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BlendedLearning_TÜVRheinland Academy

Blended Learning: great opportunities for competence development

Blended Learning? Only a few people know what is meant with this term. Yet the hybrid learning concept has long been the order of the day in many places: the hybrid learning concept combines online and face-to-face educational offerings. Experience has shown that this makes it easier to build up operational competence, especially in technical areas. What you should consider when developing your own strategy.

Universities are increasingly supplementing classroom courses with web-based training, companies are using digital solutions to make it easier for new employees to get started or are using e-learning platforms to develop their own staff in a targeted manner. This enables employees to decide for themselves when and where they want to learn – whether at home or on the road. But hybrid learning offers do not only increase the flexibility of knowledge transfer. They also pave the way for lower costs within the company and greater learning success for employees. This is the result of a ten-year meta-analysis conducted by the U.S. Department of Education. No wonder that blended learning is also enjoying growing popularity in the corporate environment: in the USA alone, the proportion of company training hours within the framework of integrated learning concepts almost doubled from 35 percent to 69 percent in 2018. This is not least due to the ongoing digitalization: In the past, blended learning programs were primarily about combining presence and online offerings. Today, however, they also offer companies a wide range of interactive learning tools – and thus completely new learning worlds.

You should consider the following when developing your own blended learning concepts:

  • Get feedback: 360-degree feedback is the be-all and end-all of successful personnel development. Online tools set the right course for this. They enable employees and managers to assess each other at the click of a mouse. On this basis, blended learning offerings can then be developed to fit.
  • Interlocking hybrid learning offers: Integrated learning concepts convey knowledge through a logical combination of different forms of learning. For this to succeed, playful simulations, virtual excursions, and social cooperation must interlock seamlessly. In other words, blended learning is a process. It is not enough to make the offers available. They must also be continuously supervised and further developed.
  • Staying in touch: Interactive learning offers require a lot of self-discipline and personal responsibility on the part of the participants. This makes it all the more important for learners to have a contact person when they have questions. According to studies, interactive discussion opportunities and timely feedback are an important success factor for hybrid continuing education programs.
  • Personalize knowledge transfer: A major advantage of blended learning is that training courses can be tailored to the individual needs of each employee. Instead of consuming superfluous information using the watering can principle, everyone learns only what they really need for their job.
  • Using external content: Internal company learning content should be enriched with external online content. In this way, synergy effects can be exploited and modern learning experiences made possible. With the help of digital tools, suitable content can be identified in the twinkling of an eye.
  • Tread new paths: Frontal knowledge transfer is out. Face-to-face events are ideal for deepening knowledge acquired online through role-plays or discussions. Innovative technologies such as Augmented and Virtual Reality also enable “learning by doing” in risk-free environments.
  • Eliminate barriers to entry: 75 percent of the skills employees need for their job are acquired in their daily work. Social media tools, chatbots and online discussion forums make knowledge available in the company at the click of a mouse.
  • Check learning success: After continuing education is before continuing education: Blended learning is a continuous process. Accordingly, it is important to check the learning success of employees after completion of appropriate programs – preferably again in the form of an independent competence measurement. This allows potential shortcomings in the interactive learning offering to be identified and closed.

Those who do not have the necessary know-how in-house should rely on external know-how when developing and implementing hybrid learning concepts. Globally active competence developers have experience in the creation of tailor-made learning architectures, which contribute precisely to the goals of the company.

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ABO psychologists AMD TÜV

If the boss is the problem – and how I/O psychologists may help

Poor management, a lack of conflict, error and criticism culture can cost a company dearly. Due to the shortage of skilled workers, demographic developments and digitalization, the demand for services related to mental health at the workplace are increasing more and more. I/O psychologists (Industrial and Organizational Psychology), for example, are valuable support for organizations. But exactly this is their job and what are their strengths?

For a long time, the mental health of employees has received little attention. With the increasing density of work, ever higher demands and increasing burdens due to digital availability, mental health has also been the focus of attention for a few years now. By 2018, German health insurers had reported an ever-increasing number of cases of mental illness. They are now the most common cause of early retirement and occupational disability in Germany and, with 15.2 percent, are still the third most common cause of absenteeism. Poor leadership, a lack of conflict, error and criticism culture are sooner or later a business-critical issue that can endanger the continued existence of the organization. Above all, people can be overloaded to the point of burnout if they are only supposed to function on the factual level during change processes and are not heard. Fears, emotions and internal and external conflicts are still far too rarely discussed.

Looking behind the façade and promoting healthy cooperation

Unlike psychotherapists, I/O psychologists are not clinicians but analyze an organization and its actors at all hierarchical levels from a socio-psychological perspective. They look behind the façade of a company and analyze social relationships and interactions. How do individual people feel when, for example, they constantly experience themselves in change situations as a result of digitalization? To what extent do the demands and reality of a company’s social dealings soften and how does this affect the perception and behavior of employees? How does a manager lead and communicate? Are emotional needs addressed in communication in addition to factual issues, especially in change situations? And how does a company deal with conflicts, mistakes, and fears? Does a manager then also address the relationship levels between conflict parties and works up disturbed relationships in such a way that it can then continue on a healthy working level? I/O psychologists need a pronounced communicative and social competence. They must ask the right questions and above all be able to listen. They must moderate conversations and be emphatic and sympathetic to people of all hierarchies. Above all, they must impart knowledge and methods on how healthy cooperation in companies, departments or teams should and can be successful.

High qualification requirements for I/O psychologists

Ambitious providers recruit only graduates of a diploma or master’s degree course in psychology. In Germany, the subject has a numerus clause of 1.0. Other courses of study in psychology often do not fulfill the specialist and methodological knowledge that is ideally available. One recognizes quality providers by the fact that they submit enterprises no run-of-the-mill-offers, instead these can clarify beforehand, where the pain points are, what the enterprise needs and expects as purposeful solutions. Even though there are only a few legal requirements for I/O psychologists, large providers also attach great importance to the qualification of their colleagues along with the methodological and technical developments in corporate psychology research and practice.

Interdisciplinary cooperation

In 2013, the German legislator also recognized that mental health is a high value in a modern, synchronized and digitalized working world with increasingly older employees. It, therefore, included a guideline in the Occupational Health and Safety Act that all employers, regardless of the size of their company, must regularly carry out a risk analysis of psychological stress at the workplace. However, the guidelines for the implementation of the “Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Strategy” do not stipulate that such risk analysis must be prepared by psychologists. For example, at AMD TÜV it has been agreed that the psychologists will be in charge of the process, will advise on the methodology and will play a key role in supporting communication. Occupational physicians and safety specialists must also be involved. The cooperation in prevention teams with occupational medicine, occupational health and safety, occupational health promotion and occupational integration management is necessary in order to deal with the complex issues relating to occupational health and safety in companies.

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Why personnel certifications are more important than ever today

A highly engineered and networked society requires the actors to continuously acquire up-to-date knowledge and skills. Fewer and fewer people today are still in a position to survey the current key competencies within an industry, let alone across industries. This is a situation that everyone knows who decides to buy a car or a more complex electrical appliance. More and more consumers are turning to the test reports of TÜV or test portals before buying in order to orient themselves and evaluate the differences between manufacturers. In the field of professional training, the certification of individuals plays a similar role. What it can do and what to look out for when selecting providers.

The professional training market is characterized by a hardly manageable diversity of more or less well-known or unknown training providers and certifiers. They all issue certificates about the success of their participants in their advanced training courses, which are called certificates, diploma, attendance certificates, etc.. Independent personnel certification bodies such as PersCert TÜV use standardized and transparent test procedures based on internationally stringent standards to determine whether people possess specific knowledge and skills. If these can be objectively established, the personnel certification body shall issue a final certificate. These final certificates do not have unlimited validity, but are renewed after a recertification procedure. The prerequisite for recertification is that the certified person keeps his or her knowledge up to date.

Why personnel certification is worthwhile for both employees and companies

Various occupational groups can be tested and certified. TÜV Rheinland, for example, offers certified qualifications in the areas of production and technology, quality, sustainability, occupational safety and environmental protection, energy, IT and data protection, health services, security, services and sales. With success: Every year, around 30,000 people make use of the more than 750 certification programs of the independent and accredited certification body PersCert TÜV. For a good reason. Employees benefit in many ways:

  • Opportunities for specialization: Personnel certificates make it possible to specialize in a targeted manner, to design one’s own career path to fit precisely and to get step by step closer to one’s dream job.
  • Door opener for attractive jobs: Personnel certificates are a seal of quality.
  • Improved career prospects: Personnel certificates not only illustrate the skills and competencies that a person possesses, they also demonstrate commitment and thus provide important arguments for the next step on the career ladder.

But it is also worthwhile for companies to invest in the personnel certification of their own employees. For the following reasons, among others:

  • Uniform service and production standards
    Personnel certifications help to establish uniform standards throughout the company. In production as well as in quality management.
  • Improved competitive opportunities
    Personnel certifications contribute to improved competitiveness. Customers and partners know that they can rely on the expertise of the employees.
  • International Recognition
    Personnel certification procedures based on DIN EN ISO/IEC 17024 are recognized worldwide. This makes certificates globally comprehensible and comparable. You can make it clear to business partners and customers that your employees are well trained in terms of their competencies. Because personnel certifications by PersCert TÜV are subject to the quality standards “Made in Germany”.
  • Targeted personnel development
    Personnel certifications are a first-class tool in the fight against the increasing shortage of skilled workers.
  • Motivated employees
    With personnel certificates you enable your employees to sharpen their own professional profile in a targeted manner. This contributes to their motivation and increases employee loyalty.

What should be considered when selecting a personnel certification body?

(1) The status of a participant’s certification should be publicly documented and should be available to interested parties for consultation at any time. In this way, doubts about the authenticity of a certificate or its content can be dispelled at any time. At PersCert TÜV, for example, the personnel certificates are documented and available for inspection at www.certipedia.com.

(2) The personnel certification should be carried out according to DIN EN ISO/IEC 17024, as is the case with PersCert TÜV. The DIN EN ISO/IEC 17024 standard specifies internationally recognized requirements for a certification body. It is thus the basis for the high recognition of the certificates in business and administration.

Conclusion: In order to master the rapid progress in an ever more complex world, professional competencies are required. It is essential to know what knowledge and skills these qualifications actually comprise. Ultimately, this scope is decisive for the quality of results of services or products that customers of companies and organizations expect from individuals. Personnel certification makes the scope and timeliness of knowledge measurable. Learn more.

TÜV Rheinland Akademie_XT Technologien_DigitalLearning

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.

TÜV Rheinland Akademie_XT Technologien_DigitalLearning

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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TÜVRheinland_Resiliencecheck_OccupationalHealth

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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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.