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What characterises a healthy working environment? You will get the answer to that here

What characterises a healthy work environment?

Stress is one of the most frequent reasons why Danes call in sick. In a number of cases, stress is caused by dissatisfaction in the workplace, which is why several companies are working to promote a healthy working environment.

In this article we will answer questions:

  • What the phrase: Working environment actually means
  • Working environment regulations and the Working Environment Act
  • Working environment training and working environment representative
  • Working environment organisation

What is a working environment?

A working environment includes the:

  • Physical
  • Psychic  
  • Social

part of the work. The working environment includes all the company's employees, which is why it is a shared responsibility that all employees thrive.

However, several workplaces experience a deplorable working environment, with several employees in Danish companies reporting that they are exposed to bullying, harassment, stress or general dissatisfaction on the job. This can have major consequences for the individual employee, but also for the entire company, as it can go beyond productivity, turnover and the reputation of the workplace.

Thus, a large part of workplaces work to promote wellbeing and create a framework for an ideal working environment, where employees are happy to go to work.

1. Physical working environment

A healthy physical working environment typically involves good ventilation, no dangerous electrical installations, unpleasant sounds or lights that can disturb the working day. In addition, a good physical working environment has the correct prerequisites for the work to be carried out safely and comfortably. For example, it is important that a company, where the majority of the working day takes place in the office, offers office chairs that can be adjusted in height and corresponding adjustable tables, where you and your colleagues can work without worrying about back and neck injuries.

Another example could be a construction site. Here it is essential that the environment is safe and that you are not in direct contact with, for example, dangerous liquids and chemicals. In addition, you must be familiar with how the machines are to be used. Scaffolding and similar constellations must also be set up in accordance with applicable regulations.

Here is a sample of the physical factors that can affect the working environment:

  • Indoor climate
  • Noise and lighting
  • Furnishing of office
  • Correct equipment and machinery

In the next section, we will go in depth with what characterises a healthy psychological work environment.

2. The psychological working environment

The psychological work environment can be a challenge to work with, as not all employees share their thoughts and feelings. Thus, it is among other responsibility that the working environment encourages openness and dialogue and lets the employees have their say with their suggestions, ideas and thoughts about the working environment at the workplace.

Therefore, inclusion is a key word when it comes to the psychological working environment. A healthy psychological work environment has clear work procedures, where constructive criticism is expected and praise if one of the employees has done a good job. In addition, personal development and variety in daily life must be an option.

A good mental working environment has credibility and trust as basic values ​​between colleagues, as well as between the management and the employees.

Here is a sample of the psychological factors that affect the working environment:

  • The requirements that are placed on the individual employee
  • The dialogue between the employees and the managers. Here, it is crucial that the employee has the experience of being heard
  • Good social relations across the organisation

Speaking of social relations, we look at the third leg in relation to the working environment, namely the social element.

3. Social working environment

The social working environment is about relationships within the workplace and the support that the employees experience, but is also affected by the interaction with colleagues in the workplace.

Responsibility for the working environment, including the social one, lies with the employer.

The social working environment therefore differs from the organisational working environment, which relates to the resources and framework conditions that are present in the company, so that the employees can perform the work in the best possible way.

We will come back to how the working environment can be facilitated, but before we do we want to look at what a good working environment is.

Good work environment

It is important to point out that each individual employee has their own perception of what characterises a good working environment. However, there are a number of values ​​and norms that most people would describe as healthy and positive in terms of the workplace environment.

A bad working environment, on the other hand, can contain several different elements, for example a bad atmosphere where employees bully their colleagues or talk behind the management's back.

It can also be a working environment where there is no understanding of diversity. This can be the case, for example, if the employees' privacy or cultural background is not taken into account.

An unhealthy working environment can also be a workplace where you are not allowed, for example, to go on long weekends or take holiday entitlement when you have requested it. Several indicative studies show that it is important to relax, and among other can switch off the mobile phone and shut down their email at the weekend. In the worst case, a poor working environment can lead to stress, which benefits neither the stressed person or the workplace.

It is therefore crucial that your company works actively to promote a healthy working environment. So how do you do that? Your company does this by creating a working environment organisation.

Working environment organisation

In companies or organisations with 10 or more employees, the employer must establish a working environment organisation.

To put it another way, in companies or organisations with a maximum of 9 employees, cooperation on safety and health must be systematised. However, there is no formal obligation to form a working environment organisation.

If you would like to know more about the tasks of an occupational health and safety organisation, click here.

An occupational health and safety organisation consists of one or more supervisors and one or more occupational health and safety representatives in the company.

Working environment representative

A working environment representative ensures that colleagues have an influence on the working environment.

Since, as mentioned, it is the management's responsibility to ensure that the Working Environment Act is complied with in the workplace, it is the work environment representative's task to support the management in that work, while at the same time allowing the colleagues to have influence.

An occupational health and safety representative can take an occupational health and safety training course. The Working Environment Act is changed every year, so it is recommended to refresh the course accordingly.

It is a position of trust to be a representative, where typically there is a supplement to the salary. So an occupational health and safety representative's salary is preferably in the range of DKK 500-1000 per month.

A working environment representative can, for example, have the following tasks:

  • Coordinating and leading the company's cooperation in relation to: Health and safety
  • Carry out the annual working environment discussion
  • Be involved in determining the size of the working environment organisation
  • Make a plan for the working environment organisation's: Structure, members, etc.
  • Ensure that the Working Environment Act is complied with

So let's take a closer look at the Working Environment Act.

The Working Environment Act

working environment

The Working Environment Act is a framework law. This means that the law on the working environment is more specific in relation to constitutional provisions. The Working Environment Act therefore lays down general obligations and principles. It is then within the companies themselves, where the working environment organisations must implement the law, via the guidelines that the Danish Working Environment Authority ('Arbejdstilsynet' in Denmark) indicates as good practice.

The Norwegian Working Environment Authority does this on the basis of executive orders which elaborate and clarify the rules in the law.

However, a large part of the Danish working environment regulations originate from the EU, which has made a number of directives concerning:

The working environment regulations can therefore be found on the Danish Working Environment Authority's website.

Now that you are looking at the working environment at your workplace, it is recommended to read a little more about: