ICT fuelling work-related stress, says UN body

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Harriet Kyaalya seems to always move home with her office. As soon as she reaches home, she checks her e-mail for any important communication she may have missed due t her heavy work schedule. If there is any work-related mail, Kyaalya attends to that. Sometimes, she delves into work afresh, missing meals and sleeping way past midnight. Kyaalya looks stressed most of the time.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) says many people in Uganda, and elsewhere, lead lives like Kyaalya’s, especially with the availability of information communication technology (ICT), and as a result, they become stressed. The UN body is bringing the dialogue on work-related stress to Uganda.

Work-related stress is said to be on the increase here and globally, a big proportion of it driven by ICT, according to ILO. The first dialogue meeting on occupational safety and health organised jointly by ILO an the labour ministry, focusing on in Uganda David Mawejje said technology may be bridging distances between people and making work easier, but it is creating occupational hazards, like work-related stress.

He noted that the stress is due lack of enough rest, which a human body needs. “With technology, people work longer hours, simply because they have ipads, laptops, Internet-enabled mobile phones and at the end of it, they do not have time for resting,” said Mawejje.

According to Mawejje, however, “interpersonal relations and social support, as well as personality factors, can moderate the impact of this.” He noted that work used to be rated according to hours worked, but today, it is more about performance because technology is moving at a faster rate, putting a lot of demands on workers.

This affects interpersonal relations and social support. The executive director of the Federation of Uganda Employers, Rosemary Senabulya, agreed, saying she, too, is a victim of ICT.“You can no longer run away from work. I think it is an addiction, which has to be managed by an individual,” she said