Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 4 2008, page 43-58.
This article is about meaning and sensemaking in work – as a precondition for employees’ participation and commitment in changing and improving their work.
Results from a Danish research project (the BEST project) are presented. Fourteen companies and institutions tried to improve their psychosocial work environment, but many of them failed; even seeing this worsen. Nevertheless, employees everywhere expressed a surprising (desire for) involvement in work – although often frustrated and conflictual. This may indicate a great under-utilised potential for improving work and working conditions.
After presenting a specific concept of the work task, a theoretical model is outlined - proposing the work task as pivotal for employees’ creation (or loss) of meaning and sense in their work. This is of special importance when it comes to processes of change: employees’ participation and commitment to change depends on the meaning of the goal. This is crucial when trying to improve the psychosocial work environment.
Finally, some consequenses for practise are suggested, as is a wider perspective of democratizing work as a condition for a sustainable psychosocial work environment.