Investigating the relationship between determinants of employee wellbeing and innovation: a policy and practice perspective

Dediu, Vlad (2021) Investigating the relationship between determinants of employee wellbeing and innovation: a policy and practice perspective. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The European Union (EU) 2020 Strategy was the broad EU agenda for growth and jobs, aimed at promoting socio-economic development and productivity. An important consideration within this was the negative impact that the 2008 crisis had, which was compounded by the less than optimal response observed in many organisations. It became clear that the path to a competitive economy was achievable only through sustainable practices that do not overlook the health and wellbeing (WB) of the workforce. The concept of innovation has received increased attention, as it promised to offer a potential way forward. Within the area of employment and work, two concepts emerged that were of relevance to the broader idea of innovation: workplace innovation (WI) and innovative work behaviours (IWB). However, much more work was needed to clearly understand how to develop truly holistic frameworks for innovation and WB.

Bearing this in mind, the main research question that this thesis aims to answer is whether it is possible to develop such an integrated framework at the policy and practice levels. It aims to do so using a mixed methods approach including both quantitative and qualitative studies. It was first important to reach conceptual clarity regarding these constructs and their precursors. This is addressed in the first two chapters of the thesis through an extensive literature review, and it becomes clear that from a theoretical point of view, IWB can be understood as an outcome of WI, and furthermore that there is potential overlap between IWB and WB. This overlap happens at the level of the psychosocial work environment, and by using the Job Demands-Resources theory as a framework, it is proposed that the same demands and resources which have been shown to predict WB, are also associated with IWB. Chapter 3 then outlines the mixed methods approach used in this research.

The first study in chapter 4 uses a quantitative approach to test which elements of the psychosocial work environment influence IWB. A secondary analysis of the 2010 European Working Conditions Survey (n=12924) was conducted, and a generalised multilevel structural equation model was used to test the study hypotheses. The relationship between work demands, resources, additional work factors and IWB was investigated. It was also investigated if individual IWB, at the country level, is associated with country innovative performance. Autonomy, manager encouragement and dealing with unforeseen problems showed the highest positive relationship with IWB. Conversely, monotonous tasks and working at high speed were found to be negatively associated with IWB. Furthermore, strong indications were found that country-level IWB positively relates to the odds of a country scoring higher on macro level innovation indicators.

In chapter 5, through a structured search guided by a combination of framework analysis and policy scorecard analysis, 76 relevant EU hard and soft policies in the areas of occupational health and safety, employment and workplace innovation are identified and evaluated. The aim is to uncover potential gaps in existing policies and to understand which areas need to be further addressed to achieve comprehensive policy frameworks. By relying on a theory driven approach and by leveraging existing frameworks in WI, a total of 5 scorecard criteria were developed and policies were analysed against these. The findings of this study suggest that soft law is much more comprehensive than hard law, as the top 10 scoring policies were all nonbinding documents. However, most of the policies were limited in their coverage across all the identified dimensions. It emerged that more work is needed to achieve clear definitions of key terms (e.g. work organisation, work environment, quality of work). It was also evident that in order to align perspectives across WI and psychosocial risk management at a policy level, it is key to focus on improving collaboration across the different EU Directorates and institutions and to promote a more unified framework at the EU level. Furthermore, the role of European Structural Funds as a key delivery mechanism of WI and psychosocial risk management policy was recognised.

The third study, presented in chapter 6, focuses on providing a further understanding of why it has been difficult to develop these unified policy frameworks. Thirteen key stakeholders were interviewed, covering a range of employee and employer organisations, governmental organisations, NGOs and academic institutions. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and thematic analysis was used for data analysis with six themes emerging. Barriers included complexity of concepts, diversity of EU member states, fragmentation, and credibility; while enablers included awareness and resources, communication, collaboration and ensuring WI and WB remain relevant on the policy agenda.

Finally, chapter 7 considers the findings from all the studies holistically and discusses them in relation to each other and to relevant literature. An integrated perspective is proposed, that can be used to further the research, practice and policy agendas in this area. Strengths and limitations are acknowledged, as are opportunities for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Leka, Stavroula
Hunt, Nigel
Keywords: Employees; Well-being; Workplace innovation; Innovative work behaviours; Psychosocial work environment
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WA Public health
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Item ID: 65843
Depositing User: Dediu, Vlad
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2021 04:43
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2021 04:43

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