Nordic School of Public Health NHV

Leadership development an important condition for health-promoting workplaces

Press Release   •   Nov 14, 2011 13:28 GMT

In order to create and sustain a health-promoting workplace, it is crucial to invest in the development of health-promoting leadership. This is shown in a new doctoral thesis at the Nordic School of Public Health.
– Managers should use the principles of health promotion to create a good work environment, says Andrea Eriksson, who will defend her thesis on the 2nd of December 2011.

An important condition for developing healthy workplaces is leadership that creates a culture for health-promoting workplaces and values, and inspires and motivates employee participation in such a development.
– It involves creating good working conditions and a good work environment, says Andrea Eriksson, whose dissertation Health-promoting leadership - A study of the concept and critical conditions for implementation and evaluation shows how a health-promoting leadership can be developed.
Her research is based on case studies of projects aiming at developing health-promoting leadership as well as on interviews with managers in the municipal sectors.Promoting employee health is a long-term development that requires commitment and support from all organisational levels, not least from the top management.
– A health-promoting workplace does not only mean individual-oriented wellness activities, it is rather a holistic approach to promote a good physical and psychosocial work environment, says Eriksson. This approach includes managerial knowledge and skills as well as policies and structures of the organisation that support a health-promoting workplace.
Sickness rates is not the hole story
The concept of health-promoting leadership has been adopted by several Swedish municipalities as a means to decrease sickness rates. Andrea Eriksson is critical to a narrow focus on low sickness rates.
– In my interviews with managers in the municipal sector I have noticed that they are aware of factors promoting employee health, but their work situation make it difficult for the managers to be health-promoting leaders in practice. In female-dominated working sectors, such as care of elderly and schools, an important issue is thus how to improve the managers’ working conditions as well as their possibilities to promote a good work environment.
Andrea Eriksson makes suggestions for important aspects to consider when implementing and evaluating health-promoting leadership. They include time and support for development work as well as organising work in a health-promoting manner.
– It can be, for example, to give employees increased control over their work environment or to support them in different ways according to their needs.
Title: Health promoting leadership. A study of the concept and critical conditions for its implementation and evaluation. Author: Andrea Eriksson E-mail: andrea.eriksson@nhv.se Main supervisor: Runo Axelsson, professor, Sahlgrenska Akademin, Second supervisor: Susanna Bihari Axelsson, associate professor, Nordic School of Public Health Time and place for public defence: Friday, the 2 December 2011, 1.15 p.m. in Hall. Adress: Fredrik Bloms väg 25, Nya Varvet, Göteborg
Dissertation can be ordered for 150 SEK excluded postage fees: kirsi.gomes@nhv.se 

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