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The working life has changed quite a lot during the last century. Development of new technology and an increasing amount of employees working with computers and information technology have had an impact on e.g. a less clear distinction between home and work and a sedentary lifestyle. Because of new technology it is now easier to take your work home and be available also outside working hours. Increased market pressures have led to higher work demands and increased insecurity regarding changes. Increased computer use has also led to new forms of occupational health risks like musculoskeletal disorders and health risks caused by physical inactivity. The most common serious occupational health problems in the EU according to the Eurostat 2010 report are problems related to hand and arms, stress and depression.
During recent years, more attention has been paid on the positive effects of improving well-being on productivity, sickness absence (or presenteeism) and early retirement. In a global world with increased competition, improving productivity only by developing new technology is not enough. An organization that is able to employ and keep skilled, talented and enthusiastic employees creates an advantage on the market. Improvement of the psychosocial work environment has in several studies showed to have a positive effect on employees’ health.
Occupational structures, leadership, communication and the physical and social work environment affect work ability and occupational well-being. The population in Finland, Estonia and Latvia struggle with similar problems concerning insufficient stress management and poor internal communication. Today more and more people work with information and communication technologies. For example in Scandinavia 70 % work with ICT. Common problems in the ICT industry are occupational stress, musculoskeletal disorders, poor leadership and communication.
To improve well-being at work many different programs have been developed. During recent years more comprehensive health promotion programs focusing primary on psychosocial and organizational factors of well-being have been developed. The participation and involvement of the whole work unit in the planning of the measures is an important factor in these programs. Studies show that participatory interventions have a positive effect on the democratic development in the organization, reduce resistance to the implementation of the program and are an important factor in improving work health in the long run. The participatory interventions can also contribute to reduced stress and feelings of being left outside.
Ahonen, G. & Näsman, O. (2008). DRUVAN – Den personalekonomiska nyttan av mångdimensionell företagshälsovårds- och personalutvecklingsverksamhet. Forskningsrapporter 65: Hanken, Svenska Handelshögskolan. http://www.tsr.fi/tsarchive/files/TietokantaTutkittu/2002/102265Ahonen_Naesman.pdf
Alasoini, T. (2011). Hyvinvointia työstä - Kuinka työelämää voi kehittää kestävällä tavalla? Tykes Rapportteja 79: Helsinki. Hämtad 4.7.2012 från www.tekes.fi/fi/document/50235/hyvinvointia_tyosta_pdf
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