Some 84 percent of employees in Germany can be contacted by colleagues, customers and bosses outside their work time, the poll published Thursday by health insurer BKK found.
Half are actually on “stand-by” in their leisure time, the poll of 2,322 workers aged 18 to 65 found.
The study also found that nearly half of workers in Germany have no normal, five-day working week, but rather work frequently on weekends and public holidays, at nights or simply when they are called on to do so.
Every second employee surveyed reported sleeping problems both on work days and days off. Thirteen percent suffered sleep problems almost every night, most often because of general stress, closely followed by stress related to being overburdened, in which private worries such as family problems “cannot be separated from work.”
About one in seven cited the stress of being constantly reachable because of work demands.
“The fact that half of employees have sleep problems and therefore do not feel rested is a matter of concern to us,” said BKK boss Heinz Kaltenbach said.
“Constant fatigue can be a sign of emotional ‘burnout.' Our health report shows that in the last five years the number of sick days that according to medical data can be traced back to so called ‘burnout syndrome' has increased ten-fold.”
Sleep shortage is most likely to be suffered by people who work more than 50 hours a week, the survey found. They sleep on average 6.5 hours a night. One in three of these people works regularly on Sundays and holidays.
These people are often self-employed or in managerial positions and generally have household net incomes of at least €2,500 per month.
Of all the workers surveyed, more than half slept at least seven hours a night. One in four slept eight or more hours.
One in five surveyed said they would check their emails or SMS for work purposes shortly before they went to sleep.
Kaltenbach said workers should “assess whether it is really necessary to be reachable all the time.”