The Strategic Framework on Health & Safety at Work 2014-2020 underlined the importance of preventing work-related diseases and health hazards by tackling new and emerging risks as it the case of technostress. In a critical evaluation of the EU policy context about the “Legislation and practical management of psychosocial risks at work” Leka and Iavicoli (2019) emphasise that despite the plethora of guidance and tools developed in the area of psychosocial risk management, the EU-OSHA ESENER survey found that only about 20% of European enterprises inform their employees on psychosocial risks, and very few enterprises were taken appropriate actions to tackle these risks. This problem is especially more critical in SMEs where less awareness and action were reported. Several authors have emphasised that SMEs face specific challenges and that the lack of resources (financial or human resources) constitute obstacles for their involvement in health prevention. These companies need tools that are easy to use, accessible and without costs (e.g., Martin & LaMontagne, 2018; Silva et al., 2015; Clarke, 2011). The DeSTRESS project (Erasmus+ European project entitled “Developing Competences for Stress Resilience @SMEs” ) aimed to raise awareness for the technostress management; offer free resources to enable owners, managers and decision makers to plan for and to mitigate the technostress occurrence in SMES. Specifically, identified a required set of critical techno stressors and competences leading to the development of a Digital Training Platform including a training game. For supporting the development of the training/game, a literature review was conducted and allowed to identify the main scientific contributions about technostress and main technostressors. On that scope the systematic review of La Torre et al. (2019) was chosen for the identification and definition of the stressors. The following types of techno-stressors where considered: Techno-overload; Techno-invasion; Techno-complexity; Techno-insecurity; Techno-uncertainty. For managing these stressors and promoting workers and employers learning we propose a technostress "serious game”. There is evidence revealing that playing games may have a positive effect on how people feel, for instance helping people to recover from stress or to do a better emotional regulation (e.g., Collin & Cox, 2014; Villani et al., 2018). Moreover, the value of simulation games in training is recognized, for instance for Crisis Management skills or Crew Resource Management Training. However, there are not yet games that cover the critical competencies and skills required for technostress management and resilience in the workplace. This constituted an innovation of our project. The main training tool, the Technostress Game, was developed tested in 3 phases: Alfa Test; Beta Test and Pilot test. The training consists of three Modules proposing 25 situations in 5 different scenarios in which players/users will assume roles (employee/employer), enabling them to think back on their experiences with specific situations related to technostress, how they happened, and which solutions are available. All the modules and support documentation was developed in 6 languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Polish and Greek. The pilot test was conducted in 5 countries: Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece and Poland, and involved 41 companies and 131 workers. The pilots assessment revealed that the participants had a good experience with the DeSTRESS game, displayed positive emotions, considered that was aesthetically pleasing and were interested in the game's story. The players experienced efficacy (72% of the participants felt skillful) and considered that they were fast at reaching the game's targets (68%). Regarding the ability of the game to train participants on how to cope with technostress, participants indicated that have understood what technostress is (83%), understood the meaning of each stressor (81% to 87%) and the different strategies to cope with the different tecnostressors (75% to 81%). The qualitative assessment of the training game supported its relevance and positive impact but also revealed that the game needs to be improved in order to better fulfil its goals. These developments are being introduced. Overall, the project achieved the initial goals. However, the current situation is different from the previewed when the project started (September 2019). In 2020 with the Covid-19 and the lockdown happening at a global scale companies/organisations were forced to a very fast modification of working processes, introducing remote work at a scale never experienced and also with several challenges raised by unexpected societal and economic challenges. Due to this unexpected events and changes there was a rise in the awareness about the relevance given to mental health and to the work conditions while in remote work. In this context distinct policies were implemented in European countries and therefore the project impact at a National level can also be different. In some countries the psychosocial risks and health hazards resulting from the digital environment are already acknowledged as a major issue while in other that is not the case. Brief Summary – The brief summary consists of 3-4 sentences that briefly describe the proposed presentation The DeSTRESS European project aimed to raise awareness for the technostress management and offer free resources to enable owners, managers and decision makers to plan for and to mitigate the technostress occurrence in SMES. A technostress training game was developed in six different languages (e.g., English, Spanish, Italian, etc.) and tested in 3 phases. It included 25 situations in 5 different scenarios in which players/users will assume roles, enabling them to think back on their experiences with specific situations related to technostress, how they happened, and which solutions are available. The DeSTRESS outputs had a positive impact in the main target groups engaged in the project and a indirect impact on other stakeholders and target groups not directly engaged in project activities. The project contributed for increasing the awareness of owners, managers and employees of micro-companies and SMEs, policy-makers and VET providers about the importance of managing and mitigating the potential risks and on the impact of tecnhostressors.
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