8d - A positive working climate

 What is a positive working climate?
A good working climate is more than safe and pleasant physical conditions. It includes a positive “psychosocial working environment”.

More and more companies invest in their working climate in order to keep their employees – and apprentices!

In Denmark, companies are obliged to carry out a workplace evaluation every third year with focus on the employees’ well-being.

The Danish National Research Centre for the Working Environment (NFA) has carried out a number of surveys. The centre publishes several questionnaires in English that are based on scientific results and internationally recognized.
 "The six gold nuggets"
Evaluation of the psychosocial working environment is based on “the six gold nuggets” (according to Danish National Research Centre for the Working Environment). We have applied the gold nuggets to apprentices’ well-being in a workplace:

Demands of work
This is about work pace and workload, deadlines, but also about emotional and social demands. This is especially relevant, when you have to perform under pressure and can be quite a strain for apprentices! 

Influence on work
This has to do with who you work with and how the work has to be done. If you have influence, you will feel responsible and be active. When the apprentice is included in decision processes, he/she will feel more motivated.

Meaning with work
This is about the relationship between the individual employee’s work tasks and the rest of the production. An apprentice does not have the same perspective as an experienced skilled worker. The apprentice will find the context for his/her tasks difficult to understand.

Social support in work
This is about getting help and feedback from management and colleagues, when you need it. An apprentice should be able to feel confident, ask for help and get help. The apprentice should be able to feel a part of the collective.

Predictability in work
This is about getting information about important events, so that you avoid uncertainty. An apprentice needs to know what is going to happen, in order to feel confident.

Reward from work
This is about salary, career, recognition and appraisal. Apprentices will experience well-being, when their efforts are recognized.
 The apprentices' own wishes
There are a many surveys about what makes apprentices feel comfortable in a training placement. Here is an excerpt from a survey in Denmark (2001, Niels Ulrik Sørensen, Roskilde University Centre):

  1. Professional development
    Many apprentices are really eager to learn. They want challenging tasks, and routine tasks are experienced as professional stagnation.
  2. Possibility for independent work 
    Many young apprentices want to put their personal finger prints on the work, and contribute to “making a difference”. They aren't comfortable with hierarchies and rigid structures.
  3. Individual training
    The apprentices want permanent contact persons to guide them. They seek a close dialogue, based on their needs in their training periods. They want to be seen as individuals in training, not only as part of the necessary work force.
  4. Visibility
    The apprentices want their training companies to be open and attentive to their needs and wishes. They also want to be visible to colleagues and customers.
  5. Respect
    The apprentices experience themselves as lowest in the hierarchy. They want respect and to be recognized just as other employees.
Example apprentice Lasse , restaurant Mortens Kro, Aalborg, Denmark
Listen to Lasse's 3 ideas of what makes a company a good training place:
  1. "Put some pressure on the apprentice’s shoulders, but not too much."
  2. "Praise the apprentice, but not too often, either"
  3. "Be nice and friendly, and the working climate has to be topnotch”

 How can the trainer contribute?
There are situations in almost all workplaces, where a good working climate and the apprentices’ well-being can be put to the test. These can be peak situations with a high work load, when colleagues are quarreling, or when the apprentice has more practice and starts getting ”bored”.

Critical situations
Download six typical situations (pdf) from the restaurant trade. With tips for these critical situations!

Example, Denmark
Listen also to training coordinator, Jan, from Denmark, and how he supports positive interaction in his team 

 For download and further information
Download several questionannaires, made by National Research Centre for the Working Environment, NFA, for screening the company’s psychosocial environment

You will find a short version, a medium-sized version and a longer version for scientific purposes. Check here the medium-sized version. 

Questionnaire in your language 
If you want to translate the questionnaire into a new language, please contact NFA, Denmark.
 Staff policy

The psychosocial working environment should be a part of the company’s staff policy.

Read more about staff policy in module 2d and find inspiration for download.

8 - Safety and working climate