Clear objectives and concrete action plans are needed to succeed with the new regulation. That is Charlotte Råwall’s opinion, who works as an organisational psychologist at PBM.
The regulation on the organisational and social work environment is essentially a merging of existing regulations. One new feature, though, is the requirement to establish objectives for the social and organisational work environment, and according to Charlotte Råwall it is precisely the objectives that are one of the most important ingredients in the regulation.
”Above all, objectives create broader involvement. The regulation states that objectives must be drawn up together with the employees and that all employees must be familiar with them. This creates legitimacy and people will be more inclined to take responsibility for the social environment.”
The Work Environment Authority recommends that employers should develop a strategy for how the objectives will be achieved. Charlotte Råwall goes one step further, believing that a strategy is required to put the objectives into practice.
”The usual mistake is to set up vague and non-measurable objectives such as ”We shall reduce stress” or ”We shall create a sustainable workload”. We must be more concrete and clearly state what needs to be done to achieve these things.
The Work Environment Authority has produced a fictitious case involving a cheese factory as an example of how a strategy can be created. The vision at the cheese factory was to have the most satisfied employees in the industry. The objectives were specified in an action plan. The first measure was that all decisions to be taken by the management group would be posted on notice boards two weeks in advance. The personnel were invited to participate in this way. Another measure was to purchase a management programme so that the company’s managers would have the tools needed to support the personnel.
”With this type of concrete action it is also a lot easier to follow up on objectives, which employers are obliged to do. One good method is to create a small group which drives the work forward and to have the objectives as regular items at workplace meetings. The regulation requires that companies work systematically with social health in the same way as with the physical work environment,” says Charlotte Råwall.
Another form of follow up is employee surveys, where employers use anonymous questionnaires on work conditions and job satisfaction. But Charlotte Råwall points out that the requirements of systematic work and follow-up are not fulfilled through surveys alone.
”Employee surveys are good, but they are only one of several measures. They are perhaps done every other year, or possibly every year, and reviews need to be done more often than that.”
Whoever carries out employee surveys is also obliged to follow up the results.
”If criticisms and mistakes are taken up, employers are legally obliged to act and try to deal with the problems, just as in the case of deficiencies that are detected,” says Charlotte Råwall.