How to create sustainable health : experiences taken from Swedish organizations

University dissertation from Luleå : Luleå tekniska universitet

Abstract: International competition and changing demands of modern working life mean that organizations are more dependent on co-workers' health, motivation and commitment to increase flexibility and relentlessly improve. Indeed, attempts to manage the new demands, very often, seem to cause unhealthy workplaces. This results in sickness absence, which today has grown to a major problem in many organizations of the Western world, not least in large Swedish companies. Research, shows that to meet the demands of modern working life with healthy and co-creative co-workers, a flat, flexible and empowered organization is needed. In this manner, good management and the relations between managers and co-workers are considered key factors. However, in large organizations hierarchical structures and complex communication channels are common. It is even argued that empowerment and good leadership are difficult to practise. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis is to contribute to the creation of good work environments and employee health, in particular as regards larger organizations. To achieve this purpose, the work of managers and co-workers of a large and successful bank has been studied and methodologies identified through interviews, workshops and documents. The results have then been compared to research considering successful smaller organizations and theories about health, management and Total Quality Management. Based on the experiences of the successful organizations a management model for sustainable health was created to inspire the work of managers of large organisations. The model suggests a management strategy based on a culture of core values considering human aspects that are supported by methodologies and tools. The most salient methodologies of the organizations studied appeared to be dialogues, employee development, delegation and coaching. In addition leadership, communication and trust emerged as important to create sustainable health.

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