How do you achieve job engagement and work commitment? In this summer edition of the Nordic Labour Journal our writers, experts and researchers explore what happens with job engagement when work pressure increases. Does job engagement really equal increased productivity? Is job engagement pure gold?
In the second act of his play Ghosts, Henrik Ibsen compares the joy of work to the joy of life itself. With that in mind it is thought-provoking to focus on job engagement and commitment to work while some 25 million people in Europe and nearly one million in the Nordic countries are unemployed. To them job engagement might seem like a luxury problem. But cuts can hit those who still work and staff reductions often lead to tougher work environments. It is important to make sure job engagement doesn’t disappear out the door together with those who loose their jobs.
In the report ‘Nordic Growth Sectors –How can working life policies contribute to improving the framework conditions?’ from the Nordic Council of Ministers, the work environment is one of five important dimensions. The authors say Nordic businesses should systematically measure and publish data on the psychosocial work environment, and that good examples of businesses that have improved in this area should be gathered from across the Nordic region. Yet measuring without acting on the results could make matters worse, warn Danish experts in ‘Action needed to combat bad psychosocial work environments’.
‘Almost always fun at work’ looks at how Finnish Fondia has managed to create job engagement and be named best employer of the year by the European Great Place to Work Institute. Working life researcher Jari Hakanen says there is an obvious link between job engagement and increased growth.
Yet working life researcher Benedicte Brøgger is not sure whether that link is right. In ‘Could increased job engagement improve productivity?’ she wonders whether the opposite could be true; that growth industries improve because it is easier for them to find suitable tasks for employees. Even when job engagement doesn’t mean more money, it could result in more innovative businesses and better customer relationships, as employees actually care, says Benedicte Brøgger.
Asbjørn Grimsmo has performed systematic work environment surveys in Norwegian media companies for decades. The 2012 Journalist Survey shows job engagement is challenged when people are expected to be online at all times. Grimsmo thinks employers must allow participation, ensure social support and trust within the organisation, learning opportunities, meaningful work and organisational fairness. Finding the balance between having enough work environment resources to stay on top of things while demands rise can secure both job engagement, commitment and improved health, says Grimsmo. Pure gold?