Organizational-level Interventions: Employee Perceptions and Psychosocial Outcomes

Organizational-level Interventions: Employee Perceptions and Psychosocial Outcomes

Organizational-level occupational health interventions are a very popular method to adapt changes in the workplace. However, there are conflicting impacts of this kind of change. This study takes place over two years (2005 and 2007) to assess the association of employee perceptions of exposure to interventions and the psychosocial outcomes.

Who conducted the study?

Henna Hasson of Karolinska Institutet Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics, Medical Management Centre (Sweden); URESP, Centre de recherche FRSQ du Centre hospitalier affilié universitaire de Québec (Canada); The Vårdal Institute, The Swedish Institute for Health Sciences (Sweden).

Chantal Brisson of the URESP, Centre de recherche FRSQ du Centre hospitalier affilié universitaire de Québec (Canada); Laval University, Social and Preventive Medicine Department (Canada).

Stéphanie Guérin of the URESP, Centre de recherche FRSQ du Centre hospitalier affilié universitaire de Québec (Canada).

Mahée Gilbert-Ouimet of the URESP, Centre de recherche FRSQ du Centre hospitalier affilié universitaire de Québec (Canada).

Geneviève Baril-Gingras of Laval University, Industrial Relations Department (Canada).

Michel Vézina of National Public Health Institute (Canada); Laval University, Social and Preventive Medicine Department (Canada).

Renée Bourbonnais of Laval University, Rehabilitation Department, Medical Faculty (Canada); Center of Health and Social Services Vieille Capitale (Canada).

What was the aim of the study?

The aim of this study was to investigate the association between employees’ perception of exposure to various components of an organization level health interventions and the psychosocial outcomes of the perceived impact.

Organizational-level occupational health interventions have had positive effect on health and well-being, however there are many studies where interventions have failed to do this.  

At the time of this paper, only three studies have investigated the use of exposure measures, perceived changes in work design and processes, and perceived benefits of the changes, in relation to organizational-level intervention with conflicting results about the importance of exposure to interventions.

Study aims to understand if employees who perceive that they have been exposed to the intervention changes will have more significant improvements in their mean values of the psychosocial outcome measures compared to employees who do not perceive exposure.

The study also aims to investigate whether employees who perceive a positive impact from the intervention will have more significant improvements in the psychosocial outcome when compared to employees who perceive a neutral or negative impact.

What did they find?

Findings showed that between 18% and 49% reported change had been implemented in their workplace. Between 6-22% perceived an improvement in work situation, 5-25% said it remained the same, and 1-9% said the intervention worsened their work.

The first hypothesis the study proposed was that employees who perceived exposure to intervention changes would have more significant improvements in their mean values was only partly supported by the results, not all changes through the intervention had significantly different mean psychosocial outcomes.

The second hypothesis was well supported by the findings. It was found that employees who reported that intervention changes had a positive impact on their work showed significantly more improvements in the psychosocial outcomes compared to employees who perceived no impact or a negative impact.

Results also showed that only some of the changes showed significant improvements of the outcome scales for the employees who perceived a positive impact of the intervention, but not all of them.

Why are these findings important?

There is a great variability in intervention outcomes and in employees perceived impact to exposure to intervention changes.

Organizational-level interventions are currently being recommended, but many inconsistencies exist in regards to their impact. Even if an intervention is designed to have a positive impact on work situations, it may not be perceived as such by employees.

Implications for the evaluation of organizational-level intervention studies. They suggest that the measurement of employee-perceived impact of the change to their work situation should be included in measurements of exposure to organization-level interventions, as exposure measures alone do not have a consistent relation to the intervention.

In this study, the perceived impact was measured for each of the intervention changes rather than for all intervention changes taken together, which may be important as each intervention part can affect employees’ work situations differently, which in turn
has different consequences on the outcomes.

Where can these results be applied?

Practical implications for implementing this type of intervention may benefit from  measuring employee perceptions of exposure and intervention impact on several occasions as this feedback can offer valuable information that might increase the possibility of achieving positive outcomes by adjusting or changing intervention.

The perceptions of employees and employees’ appraisals regarding intervention impact might be a more important factor in determining their health, wellbeing, and psychosocial outcomes than the degree of exposure to these changes.

In the future, perceived impact should be measured alongside actual exposure and previously proposed measures for employees’ appraisals since measuring only overall exposure might give misleading results as certain components of the intervention might have no impact, or a negative impact on an employee’s work situation.

If perceived impact is measured at several occasions during the intervention process, the component that are not being perceived as having a positive impact can be adjusted or changed which may help reduce the large variation in employee perception and help improve psychosocial outcomes of organizational-level health interventions.

In recent news, Leeds Beckett University (United Kingdom) worked to understand how burnout and work-related stress could be prevented with interventions in the workplace, combining organizational and individual levels. 

Reference

Hasson, H., Brisson, C., Guérin, S., Gilbert-Ouimet, M., Baril-Gingras, G., Vézina, M., & Bourbonnais, R. (2014). An organizational-level occupational health intervention: Employee
perceptions of exposure to changes, and psychosocial outcomes
. Work & Stress, 28(2), 179-197. doi: 10.1080/02678373.2014.907370

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