Person-related tasks in times of digital change: work characteristics and technology use

(in German)

Technological and social innovations have the potential to profoundly influence work systems and work tasks. In the current phase of digitalisation, it is to be expected that the use of new technologies will influence task characteristics as well as associated work-related stressors, strain and employees' health.

This report focuses on person-related tasks, i.e. tasks that are characterised by direct interaction with people outside the organisational context. It provides information about work characteristics and health indicators of employees performing these tasks in the context of digital transformation.

After an introductory overview outlining the background and aims of the report (section 1), section 2 describes central common characteristics of person-related tasks as well as characteristics that illustrate their diversity. Two tasks are analysed more detailed: "caring for people" and "controlling people" Section 3 draws on data from a representative German Employment Survey (BIBB/BAuA Erwerbstätigenbefragung) conducted in 2018 by the Federal Institute for Vocational Training (Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung, BIBB) and the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin, BAuA). The data offer insights into work characteristics, as well as short- and long-term physical and mental strain reported by employees performing these tasks. Common work-related stressors in the two subclusters include frequently working in standing position, taking responsibility for other people, having to respond to and resolve problems, having to make difficult decisions, working outside the standard hours between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., and working at weekends. Disturbed sleep at night, severe fatigue, weariness or exhaustion, increased feelings of depression and a deterioration of the general health condition are particularly noticeable as consequences of strain in both subclusters. Section 4 is based on the survey "Digitalisation and Change in Employment" (Digitalisierung und Wandel der Beschäftigung), and presents up-to-date data on the use of digital technologies in person-related tasks. According to the data, information and communication technologies such as desktop computers, laptops, and smartphones are among the tools regularly used in the tasks "caring for people" and "controlling people".

The results presented in this report are a first step towards a comprehensive understanding of the chances and risks of digital technologies in person-related tasks. Nonetheless, numerous research questions remain unanswered at present - some of these are discussed in section 5.

Please download the complete baua: Preprint "Person-related tasks in times of digital change: work characteristics and technology use" (in German only).


Bibliographic information

Title:  Personenbezogene Tätigkeiten im digitalen Wandel: Arbeitsmerkmale und Technologieeinsatz. 

Written by:  L. Schlicht, M. Melzer, U. Rösler

1. edition.  Dortmund:  Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin, 2021.  pages: 35, Project number: F 2503, PDF file, DOI: 10.21934/baua:preprint20210112 Version 1

Research Project

Project numberF 2503 StatusCompleted Project People-oriented tasks

To the Project

Research completed