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Challenging management situations in managing OHS

Tappura and Syvänen, Nordic Working Life Conference 2014 presentation

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Challenging management situations in managing OHS

  1. 1. Dinno 2012-2014 Challenging management situations in managing occupational health and safety 11.6.2014 Nordic Working Life Conference 2014, Göteborg, Sweden Stream 8: Quality of work in Nordic countries Tappura Sari Center for Safety Management and Engineering Tampere University of Technology Syvänen Sirpa School of Management University of Tampere www.dinno.fi
  2. 2. Background – Dinno-programme (www.dinno.fi) • This study is one thematic part of the Dialogic Leadership Promoting Innovativeness research programme (Dinno- programme 2012 – 2014, www.dinno.fi) • Dinno is a multidisciplinary research combining theories concerning performance, quality of working life, creativity, learning, motivation and leadership funded by Tekes. • The main research task of the Dinno programme is to analyse how dialogic leadership can be used to enhance creativity and innovations. • This study discusses the challenging occupational heath and safety (OHS) management situations that managers encounter and which may diminish employees’ well-being, creativity and organizational performance.
  3. 3. Introduction 1/2 • Good working conditions and successful (OHS) management – Ensure the physical and mental health and safety of employees (Frick 2003; Gallagher et al. 2001) – Help to maintain employees’ working capacity and support the quality of working life and performance (Syvänen 2010). – Helps the employees to achieve the business targets • Communication and a collaborative climate are central elements when struggling to improve the psychosocial work environment (Nielsen et al. 2010). • A safe, positive, and supportive working environment is also crucial when striving for innovations in products, services, and work processes (e.g. Amabile 1997; George & Zhou 2007). www.dinno.fi
  4. 4. Introduction 2/2 • Challenging OHS situations in the work community – Impede the well-being and productivity of employees (e.g. Eurofound 2010; Leka et al. 2011; Syvänen 2010; Tikkamäki & Syvänen 2014) – Entails enormous costs via, for example, stress-related absenteeism (e.g. Clarke & Cooper 2004; Earnshaw & Cooper 2001) and accidents (e.g. Sutherland & Cooper 1991) • In organizations should be emphasized – Employers’ OHS responsibilities (D 89/391/EEC) – Organizational support for managers (Conchie et al. 2013; Frick 2013) – Managers’ competence, resources and role representing the employer (Hardison et. al 2014; Tappura & Hämäläinen 2012)
  5. 5. Data and methods 1/2 • The research data is based on thematic interviews and qualitative answers to inquiries with top, middle and front- line managers (n = 75) in three Finnish public sector service organizations: - governmental expert organization - municipal social services and healthcare service unit - vocational education organization • Due to the nature of the participating organizations 1.Cost-saving pressure has a large impact on resources and work pressure as well 2.The psychosocial aspects of OHS management are emphasized www.dinno.fi
  6. 6. Results 1/3 The most challenging OHS management situations are related to: • Administration of work, e.g., inadequate resources due to high economic and efficiency pressures, constant changes in the work community, enforcement of organizational rules, operational planning, organizational confusion, and redundancies due to economic cutbacks. • Support for managerial work, e.g., evaluating, prioritizing and individually tailoring the workload of employees, assessing employees’ mental and physical burdens, taking the employees’ individual characteristic and needs into account, lack of opportunities for discussion with employees, missing support of the immediate superior , and lack of organizational support and resources for taking care of employees’ well-being.
  7. 7. Results 2/3 • Feedback, e.g., giving both positive and constructive feedback, lack of time for giving feedback, providing feedback on shortcomings, errors and inappropriate behavior. • Social interaction, e.g., supervisory work related to collaboration between employees, inadequate social and interaction skills, changing harmful interaction, and encouraging all employees to actively participate in collaboration and development meetings. • Conflicts, e.g., due to the co-operation process, changing job descriptions and responsibilities, work overload, inappropriate work behavior, unauthorized absences, non-commitment to work, personal problems of the employees, disciplinary situations, and difficult interrelations in the work community. www.dinno.fi
  8. 8. Results 3/3 • When a challenging situation occurs, managers typically look for ad hoc help from their superiors, colleagues, HR experts, and OHS experts to manage the situation. • The respondents required more competence and expected organizational procedures to support them. • They also expected emotional support and sharing of experience with their superior and colleagues in a confidential manner. • The managers didn’t mention financial support from the upper management, although more resources would have helped them in organizing the work in their area of responsibility. • The respondents pointed out the importance of actively solving problems and that the work community should be open and willing to confront difficult issues and find solutions. www.dinno.fi
  9. 9. Discussion 1/2 • Active managing and solving the challenging OHS management situations is important because – They have a negative effect on OHS, learning, creativity, performance and quality of working life in organizations. – They are closely related to employers’ regulatory obligations stemming from OHS legislation. – Their economic effect is enormous and they are increasingly associated with the operational efficiency and competitiveness of organizations. – Managers often have a heavy workload, which is a major OHS problem as such. www.dinno.fi
  10. 10. Discussion 2/2 • Managers mostly focused on individual relations and emotional support to cope with challenging situations. However, managers need competence as well as organizational support and tools for meeting their responsibilities. • It is employers’ duty to provide OHS procedures, such as risk assessment procedures, proactive measures concerning all kinds of OHS risks and early-on support model to support managers at all organizational levels. • Upper management often ignores its legal obligations and delegates work environment issues to frontline managers, without providing any resources or support. Challenging situations are related to imbalances between workload and time frame, as well as problems concerning relations, leadership, and trust. These are mostly high-level issues, and front-line managers can do little for them. (see also Frick 2013) www.dinno.fi
  11. 11. Reference • Tappura, S., Syvänen, S. & Saarela K.L. 2014. Challenges and Needs for Support in Managing Occupational Health and Safety from Managers’ Viewpoints. Nordic journal of working life studies, Vol. 4, Nr 3, August 2014, pp. 31-51. • Available: http://search.proquest.com/docview/1709681650/fulltext/1CE3DA04C03 F4B49PQ/1?accountid=27303 www.dinno.fi

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Tappura and Syvänen, Nordic Working Life Conference 2014 presentation

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