Employability is on the agenda. Yet, we lack the institutional structures and mechanisms to effectively promote it. Most of our labour institutions are at the national level on the one hand, on the industrial and company level on the other hand. Collective bargaining, for example, is typically geared to industries and companies. For the interindustrial or intersectoral levels we have some national forums, but no effective intermediate institutions and mechanisms. In our view, the phenomenon of the covenant may fill the gap. Covenants are an effective way of combining the public interest in enhanced employability, and the collective interests of employers and employees in an adequate, educated and 'empowered' labour force. Against the background of the needs of a 'knowledge economy' and the underinvestment in skills, in particular due to a one-sided 'flexibility' of the labour market, we first sketch the ambitions of the EU, and the present state and the shortcomings of the training efforts in the economy. Next, we explain what the covenant stands for, what its promises are for triggering more training and strengthening employability, and what role the critical issue of trusting co-operation is expected to play.
Ton Korver and Peter R. A. Oeij
Peter R.A. Oeij, Steven Dhondt, and Noortje M. Wiezer
The European situation of new forms of work organisation and stress risks in jobs are described against the 'decentralisation-human factor orientation model', which discerns types of work organisation. 'Flexible firms' based on lean production have the highest probability of high strain jobs, predicting negative health effects. Among European employees, those working in high strain work organisations report the highest number of complaints with musculoskeletal problems, allergies and asthma and stress-related problems. Although new forms of work organisation are limited in occurrence, most of them tend towards lean production, indicating growing stress risks for employees. The authors suggest to reduce stress risks in jobs by redesigning those organisational conditions labelled as sources for these risks into work situations with a better balance in job demands and job control.
Peter R. A. Oeij, Steven Dhondt, and Ton Korver
Social innovation is becoming a core value of the EU flagship initiative Innovation Union, but it is not clearly demarcated as it covers a wide field of topics. To understand social innovation within European policymaking a brief outline is given of EC policy developments on innovation and on workplace innovation. Definitions of social innovation formulated at the societal level and the organizational or workplace level are discussed. Empirical research findings of workplace innovation in the Netherlands are presented as examples showing that workplace innovation activities boost organizational performance. The article explores the relation between workplace innovation and social innovation, and concludes that policy developments in the EU can be studied with the theory of social quality, provided that the latter in its empirical approach focuses on how individuals together constitute innovations.
A Regional Innovation Initiative from the Netherlands
Peter Oeij, Ernest de Vroome, Astrid Bolland, Rob Gründemann, and Lex van Teeffelen
From 2009 to 2013 the workplace innovation project “My Enterprise 2.0” was carried out in the region of Utrecht in the Netherlands in order to strengthen the workplace innovation capability of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Participating enterprises completed a questionnaire regarding the “workplace innovativeness” of their company. A workplace innovation intervention was then implemented by some of the companies, while other companies chose not to take part. At the end of the project, a second questionnaire indicated that those companies that implemented interventions had a significantly higher score with regard to overall workplace innovativeness. The companies without such interventions reported a small decrease. While the companies in the region had higher workplace innovativeness scores relative to a national reference group both before and after the project, the increase in the “workplace innovativeness” of the regional SMEs that experienced interventions suggests that the project proved beneficial to their continued “workplace innovativeness.” Moreover, these companies also reported positive effects on company performance, achieving company goals and improving labor productivity.
Jan Berting, Denis Bouget, Peter Herrmann, Gábor Juhász, Ton Korver, Peter R. A. Oeij, David Phillips, and Paule Monique Vernes
Notes on Contributors
Paul Bissell, Denis Bouget, Steven Dhondt, Ota de Leonardis, Peter R. A. Oeij, Cathy Read, Paul Redgrave, Peter Taylor-Gooby, Philippe Tessier, Johan Van de Kerckhove, Paul Ward, and Noortje M. Wiezer
Notes on contributors