Low-skilled workers included in dialogue about healthy workplace
Maastricht University plans to investigate how to include low-skilled workers in the dialogue about a healthy workplace. Thanks to a €600,000 grant from ZonMw and a €90,000 grant from the Knowledge Centre for Social Employability (SBCM), the university can now launch two research projects about healthy work for low-skilled workers. The studies and interventions will be based on open dialogue and participation.
There are significant and persistent socioeconomic health differences in the Netherlands, which call for additional efforts to improve the health of low-skilled workers in the workplace. Unfortunately, many of the programmes currently available are not effective for low-skilled workers, as they do not align with the needs, wishes, perceptions and culture of these individuals. In order to improve the resilience and health of these employees, they must be given a say in the development of a healthy workplace.
Researchers Inge Houkes, Angelique de Rijk and Hans Bosma plan to enlist the help of employees and employers from two to four organisations with the aim of creating a toolbox to develop and implement health interventions that are tailored to the experiences and perspectives of low-skilled workers. This study aims to expand the MAastricht Instrument for Sustainable Employability (MAISE), a tool developed as part of a previous research study. Entering into an open dialogue with employees is a priority. Both the methods and its effects will be evaluated closely.
Agnes Meershoek and Klasien Horstman are conducting a two-year ethnographic research study on the daily culture of employees in two settings: a factory that requires shift work and a sheltered workshop. Together with employees, they will investigate the meaning of health and resilience and find ways to make improvements. The ideas proposed by employees will be implemented and evaluated in practice.
The results of both studies – a dialogue and a participatory approach to improving the health of low-skilled workers – will be implemented in labour organisations nationwide.