WHOLE - Research on organizational and social work environment

Människor i tunnel, tak över huvudet
Photo: Stefan Blomberg

WHOLE stands for Work, Health, Organization, Leadership and Experience. In the research project, we study how different organizational factors can be linked to the organizational and social work environment, for example leadership, organizational structure, feedback and reward systems and relations. We study this over time to better understand how they are related and affect each other. We analyze how different organizational factors affect the individuals' work experience, health and well-being, but also negative exposure at work (e.g. exposure to workplace bullying).

Central to WHOLE is a close collaboration with organizations and companies who actively want to work with and improve their organizational and social work environment. So far, during the development of measures, instruments and analytical methods, we have worked with three different types of organizations, a large government agency, two municipalities and a large private company. With the help of these organizations, we have over a number of years developed an instrument which includes measures of different aspects of the organization and how it works as well as the employees’ experiences of their work situation, and health and well-being.

We now have a robust and trustworthy measuring instrument that can be used to investigate in depth the organizational and social work environment. We have developed over 40 scientifically tested factors and indicators for different aspects of the work environment that give a good picture of an organization's working environment and conditions for being well-functioning. The instrument originally builds on both empirical evidence from a large number of investigations into organizational and social work environment using semi-structured interviews as well as clear theoretical foundation. The process of creating a measuring instrument based on this started in 2011 and from 2015 onwards, we have carried out about ten surveys in organizations that have been part of the development process. So far, we have received about 6500 answers. When we collect data from an organization, we also return the results to the participating organization in a clear and manageable format so that it is possible to work on and improve their organizational and social work environment based on what the results show. From measurement two onwards, we also examine what has happened in the organization and show changes in important areas.

In 2017, WHOLE was awarded research funding for a research project on workplace bullying (AFA Insurance). Data is collected longitudinally from a representative selection from the Swedish workforce, a simple random selection (Statistics Sweden, SCB). During the spring of 2019, the second measurement took place, also this time with the help of Statistics Sweden. Data from the representative sample has also given us the opportunity to produce reference values for the factors and indicators that we have developed, so that all organizations that participate can know how their organization positions themselves in terms of the organizational and social work environment in relation to other organizations in Sweden. In 2019, WHOLE received additional research funding. This time from Forte and the research project "Negative social exposure at work – organizational risk factors, consequences and how to mitigate". It will go on until 2023. A number of articles based on the project data have already been published and many more are underway. We also collaborate with researchers from the University of Bergen and from the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki.

We plan to collect new data and provide opportunities for more organizations and companies to both contribute with data to the research, but also get back results that help them to develop their organizational and social work environment. If you are interested and want to know more about this, you are welcome to contact us.
Michael Rosander, michael.rosander@whole.se
Stefan Blomberg, stefan.blomberg@whole.se
Daniel Bergqvist, daniel.bergqvist@whole.se


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