April 28, 2022, by aczjb1

Informing policy development to promote well-being and sustainable work – Ensuring readiness for the future of work

Dr Aditya Jain, Associate Professor and Head of Department, OB/HRM
Dr Simona Spedale, Associate Professor and OB/HRM Department Research Director

Organising for health, safety and well-being is one of the strategic priorities of the Work, Employment and Organisation (WEORG) research community hosted by the Organisational Behaviour and HRM Department at Nottingham University Business School. We engage with employees, employers, managers, HRM professionals, policy makers and with different organisations that make up the workplace ecosystem to co-produce impactful research, deliver world-class learning opportunities, and co-develop tailored solutions to shape a better, fairer and more resilient world of work.

Technological development, climate change, the global pandemic, demographic shifts and globalisation are transforming the world of work. These forces are impacting who works, where and when, and how work is organised and managed (which are all facets of the psychosocial work environment). New forms of work and employment have intensified trends towards different kinds of dependency and precarious jobs, leading to increased challenges relating to the health, safety, and well-being of the workforce. At same time, these changes also offer new opportunities to reduce psychosocial risks or better manage them, fostering improvements in job quality and promoting a positive psychosocial work environment.

Our research in the area of health, safety and well-being includes a focus on issues such as:

  • policy approaches to manage psychosocial factors at work; translation of occupational health and safety knowledge into policy and practice
  • work and employment in a changing social and economic landscape (with a particular focus on work patterns, precarious work, discrimination at work and migrant work
  • burnout and organisational performance
  • employee engagement
  • work family conflict/balance
  • social support in organisations

For example, Dr Jain’s work on managing psychosocial risks to promote employee well-being and organisational performance has informed the development of policy initiatives in Europe.

Figure 1: European Framework for Psychosocial Risk Management – Enterprise Level[1]

This programme of research culminated in the development of the European Framework for Psychosocial Risk Management (PRIMA-EF) and includes key indicators, interventions and guidance on psychosocial risk management to promote good practices among enterprises and policymakers and to benchmark standards across companies, sectors and countries.  It has since been adopted and published as guidance by the World Health Organisation, the European Commission, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA)[2].

This work has also led to the development of policy in Australia, Ireland and Italy, the development of national standards in the UK, Canada, Denmark, and informed the development of the ISO 45003, the first international standard dealing with psychological health and safety in the workplace, providing guidelines to manage psychosocial risk. This body of work has also resulted in direct impacts on policy at the organisational level (which has led to the promotion of employee well-being and a positive work environment for a major Norwegian gas and oil company.

Building on the impact and knowledge exchange activities at WEORG, and leveraging its extensive network, work is now ongoing to support organisations in the implementation of the ISO 45003 enabling them to prevent psychosocial risks and promote sustainable work[3]. The credibility of a global standard is expected to encourage more organisations to address this important issue enabling them to meet legal obligations and promote organisational sustainability. Taking action for the health, safety and well-being of their workforce is particularly important for organisations today. The frequency of occupational risks and hazards is predicted to increase in the future.  Studies highlight the increasing prevalence of psychosocial risks and the importance of promoting well-being and sustainable work to ensure that organisations are ready to maximise the opportunities and mitigate the challenges presented by the future of work.

[1] https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/43966

[2] https://osha.europa.eu/en/legislation/guidelines/interpretative-document-implementation-council-directive-89391eec-relation

[3] https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/topic/sustainable-work

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