‘Web stress’ costs EU employers €20bn pa in lost productivity

15 Jul 2009

Slow and underperforming web applications are creating symptoms of ‘web stress’ among EU workers and cost employers across Europe an estimated €20bn a year.

The 2009 ‘CA Web Stress Index’ has revealed that European workers are suffering with unacceptable levels of ‘web stress’ resulting in frustration, lowered morale and lost productivity due to under-performing web applications. 

With estimates putting the cost of work-related stress in the EU at €20bn a year, and business performance being more critical than ever in today’s economic climate, smart companies are those that are taking ‘web stress’ seriously, said CA.

The ‘web stress’ survey confirmed that web applications play an increasingly critical part in today’s job roles. 

More than two-thirds (68pc) of workers say they rely on them more now than two years ago, and nearly all respondents (97pc) said they wouldn’t be able to do their job without them. 

However, almost a quarter (24pc) said that every day they have to cope with badly performing applications, with an additional third (34pc) claiming this happens on a weekly basis. 

Worryingly, 81pc said they have no choice but to use some business applications even when they aren’t working properly, painting a bleak picture of idle employees and wasted time.

In today’s internet-driven economy, end-user expectations are high – they expect web applications to be always available and instantly responsive. 

The research bore this out – a quarter of workers will give an application just 10 seconds to respond before they move on to something else. By 20 seconds, almost half (49pc) have run out of patience, and by a minute, 71pc will have exceeded their ‘web stress’ threshold and clicked away. 

When asked about how fast problems or errors should be fixed, respondents displayed equally high expectations. More than a third (34pc) said problems should be resolved within 10 minutes. This grew to 68pc for within an hour and to 94pc for in a day or less.

The cause of ‘web stress’ is when a web application underperforms and does not meet user expectations. 

This has a detrimental impact in the workplace and stirs up negative emotions.  Some 78pc said it results in wasted time and lost productivity, almost half (49pc) admit it makes them angry and 38pc said it is reducing their job satisfaction.

“Web applications are centre stage in most organisations and pretty much everything we do at work is either reliant upon or influenced by them,” said Kobi Korsah (pictured), director, EMEA Product Marketing, at CA.

“They are business-critical, so when they underperform, productivity and morale suffer and there are immediate consequences for the organisation.

“Taking the right corrective action means that employee ‘web stress’ is kept to a minimum, which in turn supports the bottom line – critical in today’s economic climate.”

The costs to businesses of work-related stress such as ‘web stress’ are widely reported as high staff turnover, sick leave and absenteeism, premature retirement, reduced work performance, poor time-keeping and reduced productivity

Alexander Kjerulf, chief happiness officer of the ‘Happy at Work Project’, commented: “Organisations expect staff to be efficient and productive at work, but when IT systems fail, employees get stressed and frustrated because they are prevented from carrying out even basic tasks. 

“As a corporate speaker, author and consultant on happiness at work, I visit many companies around the globe and the one common issue that stands out is underperforming IT,” he said.

“Poor web applications are a major contributor, which in turn results in employee stress, decreased productivity, absenteeism and high staff turnover. 

“Individuals are ‘happy at work’ when they are efficient, capable and add-value. Increasingly, efficient and stable web applications are an essential tool without which we can’t do our jobs effectively,” Kjerulf explained.

According to the survey, over two-thirds (69pc) reported that poor internal IT negatively affects their view of their employer. If the IT systems at work are inadequate, 44pc wouldn’t recommend their employer to others and 30pc would consider leaving.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: Kobi Korsah, director, EMEA Product Marketing, at CA