Interpersonal relationships at work: organization, working conditions and health

Detta är en avhandling från Stockholm : Karolinska Institutet, Department of Public Health Sciences

Sammanfattning: The overall aim of this thesis was to study the association between interpersonal relationships at work and organizational factors, working conditions and health. Interpersonal relationships are regarded as an important component of the psychosocial working conditions, but inadequately studied. Interpersonal relationships at work can be considered to be mainly governed by personality traits. Alternatively, interpersonal relationships are potentially affected by other psychosocial working conditions or rooted in the organizations, thus accentuating the need to study the relation to organizational factors. In epidemiology interpersonal relationships at work are traditionally defined as detrimental factors, for example conflicts. Among many measures designed to capture the concept of interpersonal relationships at work social support is probably the best known and the most studied. The first and second studies (I-II), examine the relation between working conditions, dimensions of interpersonal relationships and depression using a traditional longitudinal epidemiological design. The third and fourth studies (III-IV), explore the relation between interpersonal relationships at work, organizational factors and sickness absence using a qualitative analysis of interviews with managers at Swedish companies. In the first study (I) high demands showed effects on serious conflicts at work and exclusion by co-workers. Low skill discretion showed effects on exclusion by coworkers. The effects were adjusted for confounders. Furthermore, serious conflict or exclusion by co-workers developed over time for the groups that didn t indicate such problems at the time of the first questionnaire. In the second study (II) low social support, serious conflict, exclusion by superiors or co-workers showed effects on depression. These effects remained when adjusting for confounders and previous depression meaning that those exposed and not depressed risked depression over time. In the third study (III) organizational factors that seem to be distinguishing for companies with low sickness absence were found. These were elaborate, explicit strategies and procedures dealing with for example leadership, employee involvement, corporate values and visions, which can be related to interpersonal relationships between employees and leaders. In the fourth study (IV) strategies, procedures or values that could be related to items of the relational justice scale for example the supervisors considers the employees viewpoints were more expressed in companies with low numbers of sickness absence. In conclusion: improvements in psychosocial working conditions may help to diminish conflicts and exclusion. Promoting good interpersonal relationships at work may help to reduce the risk of employees developing depression. Furthermore, important factors on the organizational level associated to the interpersonal relationships appear to differentiate companies with low levels of sickness absence from companies with average levels. Organizations that seem to be healthy for the employees are organized in the spirit of relational justice i.e., perceived as fair, kind, considerate, and impartial and personal viewpoints are considered. Relational justice may be used as a proxy to measure organizational change and health at companies.

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