Saturday, March 13, 1999
10:15 - 11:45 a.m.
Psychophysiological Reactions, Before, During and After International Assignment
Ingrid Anderzén,PhD, and Bengt B. Arnetz, MD, PhD, Karolinska Institutet
Developments during the last decade have resulted in increased globalization of both personal and financial resources.
This study is based on a longitudinal, prospective study, following a group of employees and their families (n=131, expatriate group) before (pre-assignment), during (expatriation) and after (repatriation) a work-related assignment abroad. Concurrently, a home-based, non-moving group was followed (n=81). Psychosocial and physiological parameters were assessed on a regular basis.
The aims of the study were 1) to study psychological, social, and physiological reactions during the relocation process; 2) to identify biophysiological predictors of healthy adjustment to foreign work assignment and; 3) to increase knowledge of individual modifiers of psychophysiological reactions to strains and stressors.
Psychophysiological reactions, such as increased serum levels of prolactin were associated with relocating abroad and partly modified by individual characteristics, such as internal locus of control, high self-esteem, active coping ability and sense of coherence. The first year of the assignment seems to be the most critical period abroad. Negative changes in the psychosocial work environment predicted a large part of the decrease in work adjustment - measured as decreased work satisfaction - during the first year. These findings were also reflected in physiological stress indicators. Job promotion was not related to work satisfaction.
The repatriation phase affected employees’ mental health more negatively than expatriation. Psychophysiological indicators of distress, such as cortisol, significantly increased.
Psychophysiological reactions to relocation were to a large degree individual, as were the consequences for mental well-being and health. Therefore, solutions need to be targeted to individual needs. Results emphasize the importance of multinational organizations looking more closely at these individual characteristics before sending employees abroad. They should also be more involved in supporting employees to effectively manage stressors characteristic of the first year of foreign work. The results suggest that company resources should be concentrated on expatriate employees who exhibit a reduced capacity to handle stress situations. Companies could design policies that ensure the mental and psychological well-being of employees during both the expatriation and repatriation phases of foreign assignments. Such policies would ultimately benefit the individual, employee, family, company and the end user: the customer.
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Ingrid Anderzén, PhD, Karolinska Institutet, Department of Public Health Sciences, Division of Psychosocial Factors and Health, Box 220, 17177 Stockholm, SWEDEN
Toward a Model of Healthy Work for Standard and Non-Standard Employees
Catherine Loughlin, Ph.D.* and Julian Barling, Ph.D., Queen's University
North American workplaces have changed dramatically (e.g., full-time jobs being replaced with part-time/contract work). However, for the most part, our current employment theories are based on the premise of male workers, working full-time & continuously for their working lives. We know very little about non-standard work arrangements, and which qualities of a job will be most important to these workers' psychological & physical functioning. My PhD work aimed at generating hypotheses & model building in this regard. Arriving at a model of healthy work which is useful for part-time/contract, as well as full-time, workers was the main goal of my research. My proposed model added several factors to Sauter et al.'s (1990) model in order to more accurately represent current work environments (including mediators). If the proposed model assesses important workplace factors (and mediators) for both standard and non-standard workers, it should replicate not only on a full-time sample, but also on a part-time/contract sample. This hypothesis was empirically tested. Data were analysed using structural equation modeling (as implemented by a LISREL latent variable path analysis). The proposed model was tested and modified based on the analysis of a full-time sample (n = 171). It was then replicated on a second full-time sample (n = 172), and on a part-time/contract sample (n = 132), using a multi-group LISREL analysis. My proposed model highlighted certain promising constructs in this area (e.g., status volition), and clarified the differential processes by which certain perceived work experiences (e.g., intrinsic work quality; status volition; role stressors) were related to personal vs. organisational outcomes, for both types of employees. My model demonstrated that whereas affective commitment appears to mediate the relationship between work experiences and organisational outcomes (e.g., turnover intentions), work-related negative mood seems to be the process through which work experiences are related to personal outcomes (i.e., psychological and physical health). These findings are further strengthened by the fact that this model was supported in contrast to a rival model (specifically testing for effects of the alternative mediator). Although much more research is needed in this area, this model is a first step in exploring process oriented models of healthy work for workers in both standard and non-standard work arrangements.
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Catherine Loughlin, Ph.D., School of Business, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, K7L-3N6.
When Nonstandard Work becomes a Pain: The Association between Nonstandard Jobs and Working Hours and Work Safety and Health Patterns, by Occupation and Industry
Lonnie Golden, PhD, Penn State University, Delaware County, Media, PA, 19063
This paper compiles data from five separate sources to estimate the empirical relationship between nonstandard work arrangements and reported occupational injuries and illnesses in the "big picture." Data from two recent Current Population Survey Supplements, "Workers on Flexible and Shift Schedules" and "Contingent and Alternative Employment Arrangements," are analyzed. Both CPS Supplements contain observations for a total of 57 detailed SIC industry observations (41 private and 16 public sector) and 45 detailed SOC occupations. These data sets are used to reveal the extent to which the detailed SIC industry and occupational distribution of contingent and nonstandard jobs as well as overtime hours and irregular shift-work are correlated with reported workplace injuries. The BLS's latest Annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses suggests that the frequency and number of workplace safety incidents vary widely between and even within major SIC industry classifications, and year to year. The association between the cross-sectional share of jobs in a given industry and occupation that are temporary help, independent contractor, on-call, casual, contract firm and part-time employment and the number and incidence rates per 100 full-time employees is documented in cross tabulations and in bi-variate analyses. In addition, the extent to which observed rates of decline in workplace incidents across many industries in the 1990s are associated with relatively lower average daily hours (including the imputed level of weekly overtime) or presence of irregular of shift work, and greater reported number of hours of work-at-home and access to flexitime work schedules, since 1991 (the previous time the survey was conducted), is estimated. Data are also drawn from the latest National Health Interview Survey and Employee Benefits Survey to construct health indicators by industry and occupation. A critique of existing data sets will point out some of the inadequacies inherent to the current surveys intended to measure nonstandard working and worker safety, such as for the construction sector. Concrete recommendations are offered on how to improve the surveys. Such improvements in data will help refocus the attention of economic research away from testing the theoretical assumption that the labor market rewards for workers in jobs facing unsafe or unattractive working conditions such as undesirable work hours, and toward more rigorous testing of models explaining injury rates and worker health as a function of employment contracts and practices, controlling for other working conditions, workplace training and aggregate economic activity.
Flexible Work Contracts and Working Hours: A European 15-Country Study
Peter G.W. Smulders, Ph.D., Anneke Goudswaard, Netherlands Labor Institute TNO, Hoofddorp, The Netherlands
Earlier research showed that data are largely lacking on the occurrence of flexibilization in countries, industrial branches, as well as its effects on the worker's job security, training received, absenteeism, health, and job satisfaction. These questions were dealt with in this study. In 1996 data were gathered by the EU on the work situation of workers in all 15 EU-countries. The sample of the survey was about 16,000 workers (1,000 per country). The questionnaire for the home-interviews included questions on demography, the work environment, the employee's working hours and working contract and his/her health, job security, job satisfaction, etc. For this paper secondary analyses were carried out on these European data.
Eight flex-characteristics were distinguished in this study (number of working hours, shift work, night work, weekend work, multiple job holding, working on a temporary contract, working for a temp agency, working at home). With the help of cluster-analysis it was concluded that there were two big clusters of resembling countries in the EU. First there were the Southern countries Spain, Portugal and Greece, with East Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Ireland and Finland, where work weeks were relatively long, where part-time working was rare, and where night work was more common. Second, there were the more Northern countries (Denmark, Sweden, West-Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain) with France and Italy, where work weeks were relatively short and night work less common.
All workers in the EU 15-country survey were interviewed about their working conditions, job security, training days received, their health, absence from work and job satisfaction. It could be concluded that job insecurity was strongly related to temporary work (beta = .26). In addition, more training days went together with more working hours, with night work and working at home. Probably working at night or at home made it possible to follow courses during the day. Also, older employees and employees working with a temporary contract got less training. In addition, it was shown that perceived health and safety risks were seen relatively more by employees working long work weeks, working shifts and during weekends. Absenteeism was not determined by the flex characteristics distinguished. Finally, more dissatisfied employees were found among employees working long work weeks, among shift workers, temporary workers and those working for a temp agency.
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Peter G.W. Smulders, Ph.D., Netherlands Labor Institute TNO, Postbox 718, 2130 AS Hoofddorp, Netherlands
Temporary Work and Occupational Safety and Health in Washington State, 1991-1996
Michael P. Foley, M.A., Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
This study focuses on the health and safety implications of the spread of the temporary work industry in Washington State. Several reasons lead one to expect that temporary workers will be exposed to greater risk of injury or illness. Unfamiliarity with new work processes and surroundings, limited safety training, a greater concern with the short-term rewards of work such as higher wages rather than improved working conditions, and the disproportionate fraction of very young workers in this category may all be reasons to expect poorer health and safety outcomes.
The growth of the temporary help supply industry in Washington State, together with its industrial distribution, is discussed. Evidence for poor health and safety conditions for temporary workers is presented. Finally, a simple theoretical model of the temporary labor market is developed in order to illuminate the potential for increased hazards to prevail in such contracts.
The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries administers an exclusive state fund for workers' compensation. In addition to claims data, the agency collects information on employee hours worked by firm, allowing the calculation of claims rates by employer and industry. The risk pool is divided into separate risk classes based upon both occupation and industry. Each firm obtaining coverage through the State Fund is assigned a main risk class based upon the nature of their business. Firms in the temporary help supply industry are assigned to a special set of 18 risk classes, distinct from those to which all other types of firms are assigned. The claims database is then used to compare the experience of temporary workers with that of their traditionally-employed counterparts in similar industries and occupations for the period from 1991 to 1996. This is done through the selection of "permanent worker" risk classes which are comparable in occupational composition to each of the "temporary worker" risk classes. The method used to make this selection is discussed.
Outcome measures such as cumulative time loss, claim frequency and workers compensation premia for each pair of classes are used as proxies for differential health and safety experience for temp workers versus their traditionally-employed counterparts. The results support the expectation that temporary workers experience higher rates of injury and illness than do permanently-employed workers performing similar tasks.
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Michael P. Foley, M.A., Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) Program, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, P.O. Box 44330, Olympia, WA 98504-4330
Lean Production and Worker Health: A Symposium
Chair: Paul Landsbergis, Ed.D., MPH, Cornell University Medical College; Presenters: Sharon Parker, Ph.D., University of Sheffield; Michelle Kaminski, Ph.D., University of Illinois; Ann Greiner, MA, Center for Studying Health System Change; Susan Wilburn, MPH, American Nurses Association; Carley Richardson, MBA, University of Massachusetts/Lowell; Nancy Lessin, Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health.
New systems of work organization have been introduced by employers throughout the industrialized world in order to improve productivity, product quality and profitability. Such efforts have taken a variety of forms and names, including lean production, total equality management (TMQ), quality circles, "just-in-time" (JIT) inventory systems, cellular or modular manufacturing, re-engineering and high performance work organizations. They have been extolled as reforms of Taylorism and the traditional assembly-line approach to job design.
However, little research has been conducted on how these systems impact on job characteristics, job stress and health. Evidence exists that work combining high demands and low latitude or low control (i.e., job strain) is a risk factor for hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Thus, the unresolved question is whether these new work systems increase job strain and risk of illness compared to other systems.
The auto assembly line is the prototype of high job strain--low-control machine-paced work--and auto assembly jobs have also been the initial locus of recent efforts to change work organization. Thus, many studies of lean production, JIT, TQM and related new systems are from this industry. However, lean work, TQM and other team-based methods are spreading throughout other sectors. For example, in the U.S. health care industry, various forms of work restructuring have been implemented, including "patient-focused care" and "operations improvement".
Therefore, this symposium is designed to provide an empirical assessment of forms of lean production in a variety of industries. The first two speakers will assess the impact on job characteristics and on worker health of different versions of lean production and team-based work in two motor vehicle manufacturing facilities--one in the United States and one in the United Kingdom. The second two speakers will review recent changes in the organization of work in the health care industry in the United States and their effects on workers' health. The final speaker will discuss the impact of lean production on workers' health across a range of industries.
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Paul Landsbergis, Division of Hypertension, Starr 416, Cornell University Medical College, 525 East 68 St., New York, NY 10021
Lean but not Healthy? Mental Health Effects of New Production Practices
Sharon K. Parker, Ph.D and Christine A. Sprigg, University of Sheffield.
There is much controversy surrounding the nature, extent, and consequences of new production initiatives such as lean production. For example, some have argued that the new initiatives will de-skill and intensify work, whilst others are optimistic that they will enrich jobs and end job simplification. Case study evidence supports both of these views, suggesting neither is wholly appropriate. Instead, it is likely that the effects of new initiatives depend on a range of factors, such as the type of technology, the way the initiative is implemented, and the particular choices made about work roles (Parker & Wall, 1998). There is a need to move beyond isolated case studies towards more systematic investigations that consider these factors.
In this paper, we report on a three-wave longitudinal study of the effect on production operators of introducing new production principles within a truck manufacturing company. Many changes were introduced over the study period, notably ‘cell certification’ (involving re-layout into cells, and within-cell standardization of procedures) and the installation of moving assembly lines. The changes were introduced to varying degrees within different areas at different times, enabling us to more systematically assess the impact of the changes. Multiple research methods were used: e.g. site-wide surveys, focus groups, interviews, and analysis of records (safety, quality defects, etc). Response rates for all surveys were over 70%.
Results showed that installation of the moving assembly line within a pilot area of production had severe negative effects on employees. Those involved reported poorer work designs (e.g. reduced autonomy & task variety), increased stress, decreased job satisfaction, reduced organizational commitment, and narrower and more passive role orientations (Parker & Sprigg, 1997). Evidence also suggested increased accidents and reduced product quality over the long term. In comparison, there were positive mental health outcomes for employees involved in the cell certification process, especially where there were high levels of management support. The one exception was where employees were engaged in the cell certification process but also working on the moving line. These employees were the most stressed and dissatisfied of all operators. Qualitative data suggested this was because employees were expected to carry out certification activities, yet the tightly controlled moving line meant they did not have the time or discretion to do so, leading to severe role conflict.
Overall the study suggests that, although lean production principles can have negative effects for employees, these negative consequences can be minimized by making appropriate implementation and work design choices. We highlight some of these choices and their implications within modern manufacturing settings.
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Sharon K. Parker, Ph.D., Institute of Work Psychology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK.
The Team Concept: A Worker-centered Alternative to Lean Production
Michelle Kaminski, Ph.D., Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations, University of Illinois
The globalization of the economy has spawned a wide variety of innovations in workplace design. Which designs will foster a reduction in work related injuries and stress? Work teams are often thought to do this by pushing decision making down to lower levels of the organization and giving employees more control over their work. However, not all teams serve to increase the amount of worker control. Some teams are dominated by supervisors and are simply a more refined form of traditional Taylorism. This type of team is often found in lean production work sites. Lean production further exacerbates worker stress by periodically decreasing the resources available to do the same amount of work.
In contrast, other team-based organizations actually do increase worker control over issues such as scheduling, overtime, and job rotation. These "worker-centered teams" are typically led by an hourly employee who is elected by the workers and who therefore is accountable to the workers. Data from one such site identifies significant benefits for workers. The Ford Wayne Stamping facility, represented by UAW Local 900, performs stamping and initial assembly work on the Ford Escort. Researchers interviewed 29 employees, union representatives, and managers, and administered a survey to a stratified random sample of 67 employees. The response rate was 74 percent.
Outcomes for workers at Wayne are quite positive. Five years after the implementation of the team concept, 71percent said they have benefited directly from the team concept, and only 7 percent said they have been hurt by it. Among the benefits workers reported are having more control over their jobs under the team concept than they did under the previous Taylorist system. Forty-three percent report that the amount of stress on their job is lower and 24 percent say it is about the same as it was before the team concept was put in place. Workers also report that job rotation and new, ergonomically improved equipment have combined for a reduction in injuries—although actual injury rates were not available.
The worker-centered teams at Wayne have had positive outcomes for workers, in terms of increased control and satisfaction and decreased injuries. Although Wayne is only one case, it does suggest that it is possible to create and sustain forms of work organization that are both conducive to worker health and competitive in the current economic environment.
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Michelle Kaminski, Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations, 504 E. Armory Ave. Champaign, IL 61820
Redesign of Nursing Work: Impact on Job Satisfaction, Quality, and Other Factors
Ann Greiner, MCP, Center for Studying Health System Change
While health plans continued to post slim to nonexistent profit margins in 1998, hospitals were relatively flush. Given the cost pressures that hospitals have been facing, how is it that they were able to report positive margins? This presentation will examine one of the many internal strategies hospitals have been pursuing to hold down costs, namely the redesign of nursing work.
Two relatively new forms of nursing work organization will be discussed - patient focused care and operations improvement - and contrasted to earlier forms of work organization. They will be compared on the following dimensions: who designs and overseas the work; who actually performs it; what impact the work redesign has on cost, quality, worker satisfaction and the health of workers; as well as differences related to investment in training.
Patient focused care and operations improvement differ greatly in terms of the extent of multi-skilling and team care delivery, investment in training and plant restructuring, and de-centralization of ancillary services. But results from case study research in six sites across the country suggest that both care delivery models are speeding up work, pushing responsibility down to less trained staff, and in many cases, increasing worker stress. All of these factors may lead to increased injuries on the job. Nurses reported such increases, particularly in psychiatric hospitals, in a 1996 survey.
Given that the nursing budget represents close to half of an average hospital's total labor costs, hospital leaders are looking for ways to achieve nursing-related savings through work redesign and other methods. Is there a point at which such cost cutting begins to effect quality of care and worker health? Nursing union have successfully fought off some of the most radical management proposals to redesign work arguing that they are detrimental to both patients and nurses. The contested terrain - over how nursing work is designed and performed - is playing itself out in hospitals across the country, making this a timely and relevant topic.
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Ann Greiner, Center for Studying Health System Change, 600 Maryland Ave. S.W. Suite 550 Washington, D.C. 20024
Restructuring in the Health Care Industry: Impact on Worker's Health
Susan Wilburn, MPH, American Nurses Association
During the decade of the 1990's, driven by pressures to contain costs, downsizing and restructuring in the health care industry resulted in up to a 20% reduction in staffing levels. The remaining workers sustained increases in their rates of injury and illness. These increases exacerbated the already rising rate of reported injuries and illnesses to health care workers which in 1991 had surpassed the average private industry rate.
The Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) analyzed the injury rates from 1990 - 1994 when the 12 represented hospitals in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul reduced registered nurse employment by approximately 10 %. MNA found a 65% increase in the number of reported injuries and illnesses to RN’s, a 50 % increase to Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN’s) and a 117% increase to Unlicensed Assistive Personnel. At the same time, length of stay in hospitals decreased and the hours of care per patient day increased creating a picture of speed-up in the work environment for the remaining staff.
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Susan Wilburn, American Nurses Association, 600 Maryland Ave., SW, Suite 100 West, Washington, DC 20024-2571
Do Workers Benefit from Lean Production and Similar New Systems of Work Organization
Charley Richardson, Labor Extension Program, University of Massachusetts – Lowell.
Nancy Lessin, President, USWA 9267, and Senior Staff for Strategy and Policy, Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health.
Workers speak of the workplace as undergoing rapid and ongoing change in work organization and technology. These changes have a direct impact on many issues of importance to the workforce - including job security, wages, hours of work, work pace, skill, and health and safety. In fact, in response to questions about the source of their work-related health and safety problems, workers generally cite such factors as work re-structuring, down-sizing, multi-skilling and job combination, the use of contractors and the introduction of new technologies.
Lean production is one of the key trends in work reorganization. Despite significant anecdotal evidence regarding the negative impacts of lean production on stress levels and repetitive strain injuries, as well as other negative health outcomes, much of the literature continues to argue that lean production, at least in particular forms, has a positive impact on the workforce.
But threatened with "the competition," workers are often drawn into discussions of A continuous improvement = (a.k.a. constant speed-up), seeking to remove "non-value added" time (what an ergonomist might call micro-breaks), from the work process. The end result is that workers push themselves, and their fellow workers, to the limit and beyond.
The fundamental failure is the failure to see lean production as a system designed to increase efficiencies by removing workers from the system and pushing those who remain even harder. The lack of limits in the system requires powerful worker intervention. Despite rhetoric of "involvement" and "empowerment," it is therefore the lack of worker power in the arena of workplace change that needs discussing.
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Charley Richardson, Labor Extension, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA 01854
Changing Work Organizations: Strategies for Survival and Success
Chair: Mika Kivimäki, Ph.D. Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH); Presenters: Pekka Huuhtanen, Ph.D., Mika Kivimäki, Ph.D., Anneli Leppänen, Ph.D., Raija Kalimo, Ph.D.. Kari Lindström, Ph.D., FIOH, Finland.
This session will describe the research conducted by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health on changes, both intended and unintended, in modern organizations. Although the studies focus on different organizational settings, including both public and private sectors and workplaces of different sizes, a common aim of the presentations is to identify strategies for promoting employee well-being and competence.
Two of the presentations relate to local government employees. On the basis of a longitudinal study covering a 13-year period and using a three-wave panel design, Prof. Huuhtanen will describe how changes in subjective mental capacity, including e.g. social competence, stress tolerance and memory functioning, are linked with demographic characteristics and work contents, and what are the implications for promoting mental capacity. Dr. Kivimaki will demonstrate in his presentation that organizational downsizing, which has become a common tactic to ensure the survival of modern organizations, increased medically certified long-term sickness absences, and made certain changes in work circumstances, social relationships and health habits more likely. The presentation points out a potential target for interventions in downsizing organizations, by illustrating what work-related changes mediate the effect of downsizing on health. The findings are based on a 6-year follow-up study covering a period of severe economic decline.
Three presentations will highlight results relating to organizational interventions and organizational health in private organizations. The paper by Dr. Anneli Leppanen shows how technological changes and special training interventions in the paper industry affected the employees’ competence, subjective well-being, work perceptions and career development during a 3-year period. Prof. Raija Kalimo will illustrate, based on a 10-year follow-up study, how successful organizational interventions were in preventing burnout in a large industrial company. Finally, the paper by Prof. Lindstrom develops a list of principles and strategies to promote organizational health. These strategies were derived from an extensive study on 343 small and medium-sized companies and their 8000 employees and employer representatives.
CORRESPONDING AUTHORS: Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Topeliuksenkatu 41 aA, FIN-00250 Helsinki, Finland
Changes in Perceived Mental Capacity in Association with Age, Gender, and Work Contents
Pekka Huuhtanen, Ph.D., Jorma Seitsamo, M.Soc.Sci , and Kaija Tuomi, D.Soc.Sci., Finnish Institute of Occupational Health
The aim of the study is to analyze the changes in perceived mental capacity among persons in the age between 50 and 69 years. A follow-up study among municipal workers was conducted as one part of the multidisciplinary Finn-Age research program in Finland in 1981, 1985, 1992 and 1997. The size of the study group (including both those retired and still working) was 5556 in 1985 (response rate 90%), 4534 in 1992 (77%), and 3815 in 1997 (69%).
Based on the surveys in 1985, 1992 and 1997, the changes in subjective evaluations of mental capacity were analyzed. In order to analyze the effects of aging, the following study groups were formed in 1997: group 1: persons who have been working during the whole follow-up period (N=175, mean age 63 years); group 2: persons on old-age pension (N=2331, mean age 67 years); and group 3: persons on disability pension (N=1211, mean age 65 years). The subjects were divided into physical, mental, and mixed physical and mental work according to the job analysis made in 1985. A sum scale was formed based from eleven items by which subjects were evaluating the following personal capacities (a 5-point scale ranging from weak to very good): reaction capacity, concentration, endurance, memory, adaptation to new tasks, organizing ability, autonomy, reasoning, stress tolerance, social competence, sociability. The range of the sum scale was 1-40 and the reliability .91 (Cronbach’s alpha).
As could be expected, the evaluation of subjective mental capacity was significantly higher among those in working life (mean 29.0, SD 4.7 in 1997) than among the pensioners (mean 25.7, SD 6.0 in 1997, p<0.001). Subjects on the old age pension had higher evaluations (mean 26.3 in 1997) than those on disability pension (mean 24.6 in 1997, p<0.05). The mean of perceived mental capacity did not change by ageing from the first measurement in 1985 to the third one in 1997. It was lowest among subjects in physical work (mean 26.8 in 1985, 27.0 in 1992, and 27.0 in 1997) and highest among workers in mental work (mean 28.5 in 1985, 28.0 in 1992, and 29.5 in 1997). Also among the pensioners, this kind of difference could be seen according to the content of work before retirement.
Our findings suggest that regarding people still working, the type of work has stronger impact than ageing on the subjective evaluation of mental capability. The impact of work could be seen also on pension. More elaborated analyses of the relation between change and aging will be conducted. Furthermore, associations between subjective mental capacity, stress and work ability will be analyzed.
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Pekka Huuhtanen, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Laajaniityntie 1, FIN-01620 Vantaa, Finland
The "Reactive Downsizing Dilemma: Changes in Age Structure and Vulnerability to Illness among Staff
Mika Kivimaki, Ph.D., Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) and University of Helsinki, Finland, and Jussi Vahtera, M.D., FIOH, Finland
Economic decline is a typical context for reactive downsizing in which a reduction in workforce is achieved without actively terminating vacancies. Interventions of reactive downsizing may include taking advantage of a natural attrition (e.g., non-replacement of retired workers or those leaving the organization, and freezing the hiring of substitutes for employees on sick leave).
We followed up a reactive downsizing intervention in the town of Raisio, Finland during 1991—1995. In 1991, before the economic decline, there were 1283 municipal employees. As a result of this intervention the number in 1993, the worst year of the decline, was 15.6% lower. However, the natural attrition design did not lead to a similar relative reduction in the workforce across organizational groups. Contracted days worked by the temporary employees, who were generally younger than the permanent staff, decreased because their contracts were not extended and because substitutes were not hired for sick employees. Consequently, a relatively higher proportion of work was done by the permanent employees, who also were older. A large variation in the reduction of contracted days worked between work units and between occupations was also evident.
The records on sick leaves before and after downsizing showed that medically-certified sickness absence spells were related to the degree of downsizing in an employee’s work unit. The risk of sickness absence was 1.54 times greater after major downsizing (i.e., reduction of more than 18% in contracted days worked) than after minor downsizing (reduction of 8% or less). Age structure of the staff moderated this effect. In work units with a high proportion of older employees, the adverse effect of downsizing was clear in all medically-certified sickness absences irrespective of cause and, in particular, as regards musculoskeletal disorders. Major downsizing led to a 10-fold increase in the risk of an individual developing musculoskeletal disorders compared with minor downsizing. In younger work units, downsizing did not significantly increase the risk to the employees’ health. Thus, by raising age of the personnel, the natural attrition strategy may paradoxically increase the vulnerability of the staff to the adverse health effects of downsizing. We call this phenomenon the ‘reactive downsizing dilemma’.
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Mika Kivim‰ki, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Laajaniityntie 1, FIN-016200 Vantaa, Finland
The Workers' Objective and Subjective Career Development during the Building of a New Paper Production Line
Anneli Leppänen, Dr., Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH)
Soili Klemola, MA, Anna-Maria Teperi, MA, and Eva Tuominen, MA, FIOH
Traditionally the principle of "seniority" has guided the careers of paper workers, but observations on the recruitment strategies during a technical change process indicate that the ‘cream milking’ principle has been adopted. Although several new paper machines were built in Finland in the 1990s, we do not know how these projects affected the workers’ objective and subjective career development. In this study the objective career development of the workers, their conceptual mastery of work and the subjective assessments of work, job satisfaction and well-being among those who stayed on the old production line and those who changed over to the new line were studied. We also asked did the old groups of workers differ from each others or did the "old" group of each line differ from the group of newcomers on the same line. This study followed up the groups staying on the old production line (n=23) and leaving for the new one (n=18).Secondly, this study was also a cross-sectional one in which the two basic groups were compared at two different points of time with each other, and with the new groups coming from outside (n=37 for the old production line, 60 for the new one). Altogether 79% of the personnel of the old production line, and 91% of the personnel of the new one participated in the study.
The personnel of the new paper machine were selected in a psychological aptitude testing from 1000 applicants. They took part in a very thorough training program. But also the personnel of the old paper machine participated in a training program because the level of productivity had fallen when a considerable part of the experienced workers had left to work on the new machine. The workers, the foremen and the production engineer and development engineer of the machine participated in a four-day course based on a systematic analysis and modelling of the work process. During the training the subjects created models of the production process (products, raw materials, machinery and critical parts, as well as their functions and malfunctions). They also analysed activities required during strategic tasks and planned several improvements in the work process.Conceptual mastery of the work process, in this case paper making, was studied with a diagnostic test. Experienced work characteristics and the assessments of well-being were studied with Occupational Stess Questionnaire. ranged from .51 to .87. The conceptual mastery of work and the experiences of work and well-being were followed up. In the second measurement also the participants’ self-esteem (Rosenberg 1979) and experiences of the teams’ activity (the Teamwork Profile Questionnaire, Lindström & Kiviranta, 1995) were measured.
The building of a new paper production line was a positive factor for the career development of most of the participants. Both those who stayed on the old machine and those who transferred to the new production line had advanced in the task hierarchy. Both groups of participants followed up were more satisfied with their work in the second measurement, indicating also their subjective careers had advanced. Neither were there any differences between the follow-up groups and the groups of the newcomers.
Those who stayed on the old production line were older and less educated than the other groups studied. However, there were no differences between the goups in the conceptual mastery of work in neither of the measurements. The personnel of the new production line participated in a thorough training program, and when the productivity of the old machine fell, also the personnel of the old machine went through a systematic training program based on the analysis of the work process. In the follow-up measurement, the level of conceptual mastery of work was similar in all the groups. This result revealed that professional mastery is an organizationally mediated feature, and organisations should direct more resources to the continuous development of the competencies of the personnel, than merely to the selection of individuals.
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Dr. Anneli Leppänen, Department of Physiology, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Topeliuksenkatu 41 a A, FIN-00250 Helsinki, Finland
What Prevented Burnout?
Raija Kalimo, Prof., Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), Salla Toppinen-Tanner, MA, Ari Väänänen, MA, FIOH
Introduction. Burnout is characterized as a chronic work-related stress syndrome with symptoms of exhaustion, cynicism, and decreased professional competence. Burnout was earlier considered as a special problem of the human-services professionals and plenty of information has been produced on its causes in such work. Understanding of burnout is changing and the view that it may occur in any kind of work has become more and more broadly accepted during the 1990s. Currently available information is, however, relatively scarce outside the human services and it is mostly based on cross-sectional studies. Even less information is available on organizational improvements to prevent burnout.
Aims.The principal aim was to find out to what extent work-characteristics regarded as positive resource factors prevent the chronic stress disorder, burnout, during a long time interval. The hypothesis tested was: autonomy, clarity of work role, peer support and appreciation of work prevent burnout. Secondly, as a comparison, the effects of two negative job characteristics, one qualitative and one quantitative stressor, were studied testing the following hypothesis: job complexity and time pressure increase burnout.
Methods.The study was carried out in an industrial corporation including different groups of employees and managers. Work-related data were collected with a questionnaire in Time1 and ten years later in Time2. Information on burnout was gathered on the same persons (N=1908) in Time2. Maslach Burnout Inventory - General Scale (MBI-GS) was used to measure burnout. An index of total burnout was developed on the basis of its three dimensions and used as the indicator of burnout. Work characteristics were measured with 25 items, most of them based on the Occupational Stress Questionaire (OSQ). Following positive resource scales were used: Autonomy (5 items), Role clarity (5-items), Appreciation of work (3 items), and Peer support (4 items). The stressor scales used were Job complexity (5-items) and Time pressure (3 items). The data was analyzed with linear regression analysis. The effect of each variable on burnout was tested separately by using SPSS statistical procedure.
Results. All hypotheses were confirmed. Each job-related resource factor had a decreasing effect on future burnout (p < 0,000) and both stressors had an increasing effect on it (p< 0,000).
Discussion. In the interpretation of the results it has to be noted that some improvement took place in the studied work factors during the course of the 10 year-follow-up. This was in line with the actions of development taken in the organization on the basis of the baseline data.
Conclusions. The study indicates that possible contributors to burnout exist in work conditions not only in the human services sector, but also in "hard" industry enterprises. Positive job-related resources, in turn, may prevent the development of a chronic stress disorder during a long time span. The results can be used as starting points for organizational burnout prevention.
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Prof. Raija Kalimo, Department of Psychology, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Topeliuksenkatu 41 a A, FIN-00250 Helsinki, Finland
Principles and Strategies to Promote Organizational Health in Small and Medium-sized Companies
Kari Lindström, Prof., Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), Kari Schrey, MA, and Simo Kaleva, MA, FIOH
Organizational health has been mainly studied in large companies or organizations. Here the focus is on small and medium-sized enterprises, which represent the majority of workplaces. These enterprises usually operate on limited markets or as subcontractors. Organizational health definitions emphasize the capability of an organization to optimize both effectiveness and the well-being of the personnel, and to be effective in various environments, and to be able to cope with changes. Our aim was to describe the factors indicating organizational health and the well-being of the personnel, and to evaluate the effects of organizational interventions.
214 small and medium-sized enterprises and their 4068 employees participated in the questionnaire survey twice, first in 1996 and then 1997. The project was basically a training and development project funded by the European Social Fund. Therefore all the companies and each individual got feedback reports from their results in the first survey. These feedback reports were then utilized at the enterprises with the help of the occupational health personnel and the employer, with the support of the outside consultants. A second survey was conducted at the end of 1997 in order to evaluate the changes that had taken place after the first one. The data were partly analysed at individual level and partly at organization level.
Sectorially continuous time pressure at work was reported most often in food processing, the manufacturing of electronic appliances, and also in accounting and other office work. Food processing was the sector with the least possibilities for job control. The transportation sector also displayed low job control. The perceived appreciation of one's own work was seen best at service stations, in accounting and office work, and also in hotels and restaurants. The symptoms of exhaustion were clearly elevated at the first round in 11% of the women and 10% of the men, and in the follow-up in 14% of the men and women. Work ability was perceived good by 55% at the first round, and by 41% in the follow-up. Job satisfaction was perceived good or very good by 73% and 70%, respectively.
The relations of various well-being and effectiveness measures with job and organization practices and climate were inspected at company level. The elevated exhaustion symptoms and job dissatisfaction were related especially to poor organizational practices and climate, but also to the lack of job control. The good work ability of the personnel at company level was found to be related to low physical work load, but its relations to job and organizational factors were very few. Those employees and companies who participated in 1996-1997 in OD projects reported less exhaustion symptoms on the second study round. In the whole study group, however, the changes in job and organizational practices and well-being were negative during the two-year follow-up.
Some general observations were made about the successful implementation of OD interventions in those companies which were in more intensive follow-up and evaluation. The commitment of the management and the personnel at the initial phase was crucial. Special efforts and outside consultative support were needed especially for strengthening collaboration within the company. Information and feedback on customer satisfaction was useful for interventions, as well as networking with other companies with similar on-going OD projects.
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Prof. Kari Lindström, Department of Psychology, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Laajaniityntie 1, FIN-01620 Vantaa, Finland