How can a workplace be supportive during difficult life events?
Workplaces need to develop both knowledge about how employers and employees can support colleagues during serious illness, loss or grief as well as their ability to provide support. Luleå University of Technology is now joining forces with international partners in a major EU project to research how employers and employees can support colleagues during such difficult life events.
“Employers who work innovatively and proactively to promote compassion and support in the workplace also increase their ability to both attract and retain their employees. This is crucial, not least in view of the ongoing green transition in northern Sweden, where there is a great need for labour," Tiziana Sardiello says, researcher in Human Work Science at Luleå University of Technology and Project leader for the Swedish part of this EU-project.
Because people spend a significant proportion of their time at work, it is crucial that there is adequate support when faced with loss, family care, serious illness or bereavement. A supportive employer, supervisors and colleagues can make a big difference in an individual's well-being and resilience. In contrast, lack of support can cause deep emotional wounds and impact on well-being, absenteeism and productivity in the workplace.
Based on this, researchers at Luleå University of Technology in the field of Human Work Sciences and Health Sciences, will work with three workplaces in northern Sweden to develop and evaluate strategies applicable for workplaces to promote support and compassion in the workplace during difficult life events.
The research project "Developing Compassionate Workplaces in Europe for the digital and green work environment to protect employees' mental and physical health and well-being", EU-CoWork runs until December 2028. It is an international study running simultaneously in Austria, Sweden, the UK, Greece, and the Flanders part of Belgium. The project has a total budget of just over SEK 50 million and is financed by Horizon Europe, the EU's framework program for research and innovation with grant number 101137223. The Swedish part of the project, led by Luleå University of Technology, has a funding of SEK 8 million.
Places where everyone contributes to well-being around serious illness, grief and loss are called Compassionate Communities. A workplace and colleagues can also have a meaningful role in this. International research shows that a supportive environment in your daily life can be at least as important when mourning, as professional or formal forms of support.
“By developing concrete support and compassion in the workplace, we create an impact on employees' mental and physical health and well-being” says Tiziana Sardiello.
Researchers participating in the Swedish part of the EU project are also Anna Jansson, Human Work Sciences at Luleå University of Technology, Malin Eneslätt, Nursing at Luleå University of Technology and Carol Tishelman, Professor of Innovative Care at Karolinska Institutet.