What is important and topical in working life research and workplace development?

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1 What is important and topical in working life research and workplace development? Tuomo Alasoini Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation tuomo.alasoini[at]tekes.fi

2 Developing working life high on the political agenda in Finland In 2011, Prime Minister Katainen s government decided to draw up a National Working Life Development Strategy for Finland. The drafting of this strategy, which was prepared in cooperation between various ministries and the labour market partners, was led by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. The strategy was completed in spring 2012 and its vision is that Finland will have the best working life in Europe in As part of the strategy, Tekes launched in August 2012 a new programme, entitled Liideri Business, Productivity and Joy at Work. DM

3 Why this vision? The best working life in Europe will help Finland and Finnish businesses proactively utilize opportunities opened up by the main drivers of business and working life change, e.g. globalization and digitalization. support Finnish people s opportunities to continue working for longer. This compensates for the loss of Finland s competitive position due to the weakening, disadvantageous dependency ratio. attract work-related immigration. This will help to alleviate the problems caused by the diminishing supply of labour and increase innovation. become a brand that Finland will use to attract investments and that businesses can take advantage of when creating a positive corporate image globally. create export opportunities for Finnish working life expertise and new Finnish export businesses in this area.

4 Vision Working life development strategy to 2020 Working life in Finland the best in Europe by 2020 Developing the quality of working life and productivity simultaneously Implementing through stakeholders and reaching workplaces

5 Focus areas of Working Life 2020 internal (within workplaces) and external (customers and partners) cooperation practices strengthening trust labour-management cooperation in good and bad times good cooperation practices in changing working life perception of development engagement of and participation by personnel development programmes utilisation of new technology user- and employee-driven innovations at workplaces Innovation and productivity Trust and cooperation The vision: Working life in Finland the best in Europe by A competent workforce Health and well-being at work promotion of well-being at work management of workload and risks occupational health care development of the workplace community change management meaningfulness of work management and promotion of working capacity zero-accident performance through safety management competence development at workplaces HR management cooperation between education and working life learning at work and at workplaces

6 Nearly 50 stakeholders at three levels 16 core actors, i.e. ministries, central labour market organizations and certain related public or semi-public working life expert organizations who have committed to implementation of the programme through their signed cooperation agreement and key goals and actions. 19 other actors, i.e. mainly NGOs who have committed to promote the success of the programme through their own actions (e.g. helping to reach workplaces). 13 partners, i.e. a diverse group of organizations who want to be involved through their own mission or innovations.

7 Critical issues concerning prerequisites for success of the strategy There are many potential sources of tension, contradiction and conflict of interest between institutionalized actors. Between ministries? Between labour market organizations? Between ministries and labour market organizations? Between other competing organizations? It is not self-evident that the agenda of Working Life 2020 is given sufficiently high priority on the agenda of the core actors. What is their real contribution? What is their motive to be involved? Are they ready to go for the extra mile if needed? It is not self-evident that all relevant makers of the future are involved. Are there someone whose voice is missing from the dialogue? Youth? Unemployed? Immigrants? Representatives of other policy areas? Ecological concerns? DM

8 Examples of Finnish (national-level) programmes to develop working life National Productivity Programme ( ) National Workplace Development Programme TYKE ( ), Workplace Development Programme TYKE ( ) and Workplace Development Programme TYKES ( ) Well-Being at Work Programme ( ) National Programme for Ageing Workers ( ) Veto Programme ( ) KESTO programme ( ) Noste Programme ( ) European Social Fund programmes (1995 ) Liideri Business, Productivity and Joy at Work programme ( ) In addition: programmes in the municipality and central government sector, industrywise programmes by labour market organizations, programme-like activities funded by Finnish Work Environment Fund, etc.

9 The Tekes Liideri programme in a nutshell Liideri was prepared in , in close cooperation with researchers, developers, businesses, labour market organizations and policy makers. Liideri is a Finnish twist of an English word Leader, referring here to a forerunner. Liideri is a programme for the development of business, in which companies renew their operations through developing management and forms of working and actively utilising skills and competencies of their personnel. 96 Finnish businesses ja 10 public organizations have joined Liideri so far (in addition, some research projects funded).

10 Three focus areas Management 2.0 refers to management principles, processes and practices, which help an organization to promote initiative, creativity and innovation potential of personnel, with a view to achieving competitive edge based on them. Employee-driven innovation refers to active and systematic participation of employees in ideation, innovating and renewing of products and services and ways of producing them, with a view to creating new solutions that add value to customers New ways of working refer to work, which transcend the boundaries of timehonoured temporal, spatial and organizational patterns and forms of work OR which in some other recognised way embody principles of management 2.0. Shared leadership Networking Distributed work Employee-customised solutions Supporting, innovative application of new technologies

11 Funding for work organization development in Tekes General principles Funding promotes workplace innovations in Finnish workplaces Workplace innovations refer to changes jointly implemented by management and staff in organizational, managerial or other work-related practices of the company. They must result in measurable improvements in productivity (performance) and quality of working life (QWL). Funding can be applied for by enterprises of different sizes, public administration organizations and other organizations of different sectors. Funding is directly primarily to SMEs seeking growth and other companies and organizations reforming their business or service activities or work organization thus acting as an example to others.

12 QWL in Finland compared with EU 15 and the other Nordic countries (based on EWCS 2010) FIN vs EU15 FIN vs SWE FIN vs NOR FIN vs DEN Work intensity NEG NEG Physical factors NEG NEG NEG Cognitive factors NEG NEG Psychosocial factors POS NEG Health and well-being NEG Skills & training POS POS POS Work organization POS POS POS Social relationships POS POS NEG POS Job fulfilment NEG NEG Working-life balance POS NEG NEG Violence, harassment, discrimination NEG NEG NEG DM

13 Improving QWL in a broader theoretical context A high QWL is not only a luxury product that can be achieved as a manifestation of favourable economic growth or generous welfare policy. It is also a considerable potential source of competitive advantage in an increasingly global economy. Company and establishment level data from many countries show that advanced management and organisational practices and the good possibilities of learning and exerting influence at work engendered by them have a positive correlation with companies ability to come up with product and service innovations. Producing innovations, on the other hand, is an extensive organizational learning process at best that also promotes opportunities for developing their work, and in their work, for those taking part in it. According to contingency thinking, shortcomings in the ability to innovate, on the other hand, can impel companies to look for competitive advantage purely from costs, which can further have negative impacts on the possibilities of developing QWL. This can result in a self-perpetuating vicious circle.

14 The idea of an enabling welfare state and high QWL The idea of an enabling welfare state Safety networks by evening out risks in working life changes Resources and mobilisation for reforming working life as a springboard High quality of working life DM

15 Does the virtuous circle between good innovation performance (+ related organizational learning process), good quality of working life and enabling welfare state function properly in Finland today? Yes to some extent, but DM

16 Product/service innovations and work engagement in Finnish companies and public organizations (based on Finnish MEADOW survey, Aho et al. 2014) 60% 50% 49% 40% 36% 34% 41% 30% 30% 28% 26% 27% 23% 22% 25% 24% 23% 27% 20% 10% 16% 14% 18% 12% 17% 10% 0% industry private services local government central government parishes innovations & work engagement only innovations only work engagement neither DM

17 Key challenges in the way to achieving the WL2020 vision INNOVATION ACTIVITY 1. Finnish businesses renew actively their processes and organizations but they do not invest enough in product and service innovations and supporting marketing innovations. 2. Micro-level development in workplaces is a common practice but radical breakthrough innovations are needed alongside microlevel development increasingly. DM

18 Key challenges in the way to achieving the WL2020 vision MANAGEMENT OF CHANGE 3. Organizations are being increasingly churned but there is room for improvement in change management. 4. Work engagement is high in many Finnish businesses and public organizations but it is rarely channelled as innovativeness in the event of organizational transformations. DM

19 Key challenges in the way to achieving the WL2020 vision NEW SUPERVISOR AND EMPLOYEE ROLES 5. The significance of leadership is emphasized in rapidly changing business and working life but leadership should be increasingly shared between management and employees. 6. The role of employees in development is increasingly recognized but not yet nearly in all workplaces. DM

20 Key challenges in the way to achieving the WL2020 vision DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION 7. Digital transformation is knocking at the door but awakening to it has been slow among many Finnish businesses. 8. The Finns have good digital skills and competencies but businesses in Finland are making poor use of them. DM

21 Key challenges in the way to achieving the WL2020 vision READINESS FOR CHANGE 9. There are frequent technological and organizational changes in Finnish workplaces but the evidence of general improvement in QWL is few and far between. 10. The Finns are committed to values of the industrial society but the renewal of industrial and economical structures calls for updating of the Finns values and attitudes concerning work. DM

22 Future challenges and policy conclusions The societal relevance of working life research and (publicly supported) workplace development will depend on their ability to reinvent themselves, enabling them to respond to challenges that will emerge during the transformation in business and working life that is under way. Some of the key questions are to what extent the individual company/workplace will remain the main target for development, or will loose, reflexive communities and networks increasingly be at the core of innovative development in the future? what a good QWL will mean in a situation where work becomes more knowledge and service intensive, people s work orientations are more individualistic, and changes at workplaces are more frequent? how the roles and positions of management and staff in managing, supervising and organising will become reshaped and increasingly mixed in self-managed work systems? what new forms of participation, collaboration and partnership will be needed in the new working life?

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