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Can a systematic participative method for procesing workplace survey data enhance organizational communication skills?
University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Occupational and Public Health Sciences, Occupational health science. University of Gävle, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research.
University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Occupational and Public Health Sciences, Occupational health science. University of Gävle, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research.
University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Social Work and Psychology, Social work.
University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Occupational and Public Health Sciences, Public health science.
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2017 (English)Conference paper, Poster (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Objectives

The concept healthy workplace has been defined as an organization that maximizes the integration of worker goals for wellbeing and company objectives for profitability and productivity (Sauter, Lim, & Murphy, 1996). The PATH-model (Grawitch, Gottschalk, & Munz, 2006) shows a synthesis of earlier research in a number of different disciplines and frames how a healthy workplace with wellbeing for the individual along with organizational improvements can be achieved. The model suggests five general categories of healthy workplace practices: work-life balance, employee growth and development, health and safety, recognition, and employee involvement. In order for these workplace practices to have an influence on the employees and the organizational outcomes the effectiveness of communication within the organization is crucial as is the alignment of workplace practices with the organizational context. Effective organizational communication in this context means that the management communicates what the organization offers the employees in order to enable good performance and wellbeing at work as well as that the employees state their needs in order to do a good job. The ongoing GodA-project (a Swedish acronym for good work environments and healthy workplaces) aims at investigating if workplace strategies in line with the PATH-model add to better health and wellbeing among the employees as well as organizational improvements. The present study is part of the GodA-project and aims at exploring to which extent the specific “GodA-method” for processing workplace survey data influences organizational communication skills. 

Methods

The GodA study is a 2-year follow up study with a survey feedback design in three companies with both blue- and white collar workers. One of the companies serves as “intervention-company”, the other two as controls. The project started in 2012 with a pre-project by means of focus groups and individual interviews in order to find out how employees and managers in the three companies describe the concept of a healthy work environment and what contributes to their well-being at work. In 2013 a baseline questionnaire was sent out including items, a) based on the combined results of the pre-study and a comprehensive literature review (Lindberg & Vingård, 2012) , and b) well-established questions on health and work environment. The results from the survey were reported back to the companies, which have been processing their respective results. In spring 2015 another survey wave was administered. Parallel, data concerning the company’s key indicators and internal development have been collected.

 Baseline results in the GodA-study showed that the employees considered communication as a very important factor for their well-being at work. However, they also reported that the internal communication was not at all at desired level. Considering that the PATH-model emphasizes internal communication as critical in establishing a healthy workplace, the intervention was designed to enhance communication skills. The “GodA-method”, to process the survey feedback was developed in collaboration with the “intervention-company”. In short, the baseline results concerning health, and physical- and psychosocial factors at the workplace, as reported by respective working group, are split into nine themes. Each theme is designed small enough to be processed during the groups’ monthly staff meetings. At the meetings the employees discuss today’s theme, first without then together with their supervisor and decide upon one measurable action to be taken to improve their work environment. To begin each discussion without the supervisor was a chosen strategy in order to empower the employees and in an implicit way train communication skills. The intervention has been followed by process evaluation forms for the supervisors as well as group interviews with employees and supervisors, respectively.   

Results

Nine working groups, each with 7-13 employees, were studied. The individual groups performed heterogeneous. The degree to which the various groups actively took actions for improvements seemed to be associated with the closest supervisor’s understanding of the importance of respective themes and his/her capability to conduct group discussions.

Communication was measured by a 5-item index showing the discrepancy between experienced and desirable communication level, where an index score of -0,5 to 0 (no discrepancy) was considered as good and a score below -.5 was considered undesirable. Preliminary results show that in groups (=5) performing 3-5 meetings the communication index in average deteriorated from -0.89 to -1.41, whereas groups (=4) performing 8-9 meetings the index improved or remained at a rather high level, in average from -0.92 to -0.71. Further analyses and results will be presented at the conference.

Conclusion

The results give support to the hypothesis that systematic and continuous training focusing on a mutual theme is a feasible method for improving communication skills.

Practical implications

Healthy workplaces are not created overnight. The GodA-method for processing employee surveys seems to be a useful way to systematically work with continuous improvements of the workplace. However, training of supervisors for group discussions seems necessary.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
National Category
Environmental Health and Occupational Health
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-24780OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-24780DiVA: diva2:1129321
Conference
12th International Conference on Occupational Stress and Health, "Work, Stress and Health 2017: Contemporary Challenges and Opportunities,", 7-10 June, 2017, Minneapolis, USA
Funder
AFA Insurance
Note

Acknowledgements

This study was made possible by grants from AFA insurance and University of Gävle.

Available from: 2017-08-02 Created: 2017-08-02 Last updated: 2017-08-16Bibliographically approved

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