A history of the workplace in Scotland is long overdue. It deserves a broad scope, encompassing Scotland’s pivotal role in the industrialisation and deindustrialisation of Britain from the struggle for workers control on Red Clydeside to UCS and the Right to Work.
In recent times, the history would examine a deepening furrow of workplace activity and progress in public services. This short article is not that history. It seeks to capture only a moment in this long journey and to draw some lessons for today for innovation and improvement in public services. These fragments, spanning my time as Permanent Secretary in the Scottish Government 2010-15 are set against a wider frame of public service reform in which Scotland pioneered a new approach.
• How a young engineer saved the day in Scotland’s last steel-making company
• How to redesign a factory using cardboard and pipe cleaners
• Why Scotland’s policymakers lead the way
• About the Workplace Innovation Engagement Programme
• Why Scotland has a special relationship with the Basque Country
A Series of Dialogues
Promoted by the Territorial Government of Gipuzkoa (Diputación Foral de Gipuzkoa) and Sinnergiak (University of the Basque Country), the Series of Dialogues held during May 2017 took place in Donostia-San Sebastian (Basque Country, Spain). These five consecutive dialogue-based conferences brought together over 10 experts from across Europe to share their experiences, learn from another and debate the future development of work organisation, participation and continuous improvement.
Each of five meetings was structured around expert presentations and interactive dialogues based on semi-structured and open questions, designed to allow all participants to engage in practical discussion.
Exchanging lessons about workplace innovation
On 1st June, the EUWIN team worked with some 60 Portuguese professionals to identify the key drivers and resources needed to improve the take up of workplace innovation in Portugal.
Edwin Van Vlierberghe (Bombardier), Ton Driessen (RESATO) and António Conde (iPlanus) all helped participants to understand how workplace innovation can boost the performance and competitiveness of their organisations.
The following report shows how EUWIN’s Portuguese partners plan to take workplace innovation to more and more companies.
Institutional transformation, current policies and new networks
Kenneth’s article for the EUWIN Bulletin reflects on governance, financing and current policies and programmes on working life research in Sweden. It starts by focusing the background of working life research, institutional transformations and then describes funding organisation, governmental policies and initiatives as well as networking in the research community.
Kenneth Abrahamsson is Adjunct Professor in Human Works Science, Luleå University of Technology, and senior consultant in the Swedish network for promoting sustainable work, part of EU Horizon 2020.
Innovation is a comprehensive and complex concept, and while it promises many benefits for those that strive towards it, one could be forgiven for being somewhat puzzled. It is therefore important to offer a clear definition. In the present article, the focus is at the individual level, where we have what is known as innovative work behaviour (IWB). To say that it is important to encourage employees to reach their maximum innovative potential would be an understatement.
On 16 June the Ministry of ‘Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities’ of the Republic of Slovenia organised an international conference ‘Occupational Safety and Health in a Changing World of Work’, in collaboration with the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA). The coordinator, Ms Vladka Komel, had asked me (as a representative of EUWIN) to organise a session on workplace innovation. The idea behind this invitation was that extending occupational safety and health to ‘wellbeing at work’ is beneficial for employees as well as organisations.
Innovative changes in European Companies
Innovation is an important driver of improved competitiveness, productivity and growth potential. This report explores which workplace practices have the strongest links to innovative company behaviour, looking at innovation in the form of new or significantly changed products or processes, new or improved marketing methods, and organisational change. It also explores links between innovation and company performance and workplace well-being, and examines the role of social dialogue in enhancing performance, well-being and innovation. The use of monitoring instruments for internal quality and external developments turned out to be among the strongest determinants of overall innovation; the degree of workers’ autonomy was another important factor.
The probability of innovation is boosted when strong work organisation structures are combined with direct employee participation – for instance, involvement in solving problems or improving the quality of production.
Special Issue on Workplace Innovation, Volume 1, 2017
The six articles included in Volume 1 of this Special Issue represent a multi-disciplinary collection that combines theory, empirical research and practice. As such, the articles draw on a variety of disciplines (e.g., work an organizational psychology, sociology), showcase a range of different types of contributions (e.g., reviews, empirical papers based on survey research, international case studies, practical design approaches, opinion pieces) and settings (e.g., various European countries).
A Very Special Issue
Many EUWIN members will remember Allan Larsson as Director-General for Employment and Social Affairs in the European Commission when the Green Paper "Partnership for a New Organisation of Work" was published in 1997. This provided a policy framework which encouraged research and practical interventions concerning work organisation and workplace innovation.
Today we await the announcement of new policies and programmes from the Commission. Allan Larsson is personal adviser to the European Commission President, with a focus on the European Social Pillar.
In his individual capacity, Larsson has written the major paper "How to understand the times we are living through", which is the basis of a "Very Special Issue" 3.1 of the European Journal of Workplace Innovation. which is about to appear. In contrast to the Green Paper focus on companies and organisations in the European Union, which was growing in relative stability, the new paper seeks to make sense of the "nightmare scenario" which has now arrived. Larsson presents a macroeconomic analysis, deeply critical of neoliberalism, and covering events up to Brexit and the Trump Presidency.
What does this mean for work and society in the European Union? Allan Larsson does not set out new policies in this paper. He leaves that task to the next generation, including EUWIN members and EJWI readers.
We hope to publish your responses in future issues of EJWI, which is free, open access, and online at www.ejwi.eu
Discussion about work, health and caregiving, spatial development, energy and climate change
Work, health and caregiving, spatial development, energy and climate change: these topics show in a good way the versatility of the congress “Innovation for Society – New Ways and Methods for the Development of the Potential of Social Innovations”, which took place in September 2016 in the “Umweltforum” in Berlin. Now, a free brochure with a lot of insights in this successful and productive congress is available.
Social Innovations are getting more and more attention, because more and more people recognise that technical innovations are not enough to master the big challenges of society. Because of this development a few questions about Social Innovations emerge: What are the characteristics of Social Innovations? In which sphere of activities and in which subject areas can we see examples of Social innovation? Which ways and methods for the development of the potential of Social Innovations can we see and what is the function of civil society and science in this process?
During the congress “Innovation for Society – New Ways and Methods for the Development of the Potential of Social Innovations” on 20th-21st September 2016 in Berlin, more than 200 participants as well as experts from the fields of science, practice, politics and civil society came together for an intensive exchange of experiences where these questions were discussed. The most important results of the presentations, thematic session, worldcafés, contributions and discussions were put together in a brochure.
How German Unions get members up-to-date about Industry 4.
In this film, the German trade union IG Metall shows how it collaborates with university groups to train their members in companies about Industry 4.0. An example how to get trade unionists better informed about how technology influences work!
COCOP project combines technical, environmental and business objectives with social objectives
The objective of COCOP is to define, design and implement a concept that integrates existing industrial control systems with efficient data management and optimisation methods and provides means to monitor and control large industrial production processes. The vision is: complex process industry plants will be optimally run by the operators with the guidance of a coordinating, real-time optimisation system. Therefore COCOP will combine the technological development with a social innovation process of co-creation and co-development.
Its social objectives are: