Leadership for recovery

Recovery is an important factor for good health and performance, not least during periods of stress and strain. Healthcare staff are often subjected to high workload and insufficient opportunities for recovery. Previous research has shown that leadership and organisational factors play a major role in employee health and performance. However, managers in healthcare often report a demanding work situation themselves, which might affect their own health and become an obstacle for the leadership.


In one of our previous research projects we developed and evaluated a group-administered proactive recovery programme (Bädda för Kvalitet) for new nurses, focusing on enhancing beneficial strategies for sleep and recovery. The program showed promising effects in terms of reduced stress symptoms and improved recovery. However, the intervention was only directed towards the employees, on the individual level. A focus on interactions with organisational factors and leadership is likely needed to support long-term recovery in relation to work-related stress and irregular working hours.

In this project, we build on previous research on health-promotive and sustainable leadership, and will develop and evaluate an intervention that supports a "leadership for recovery". The intervention aims to support both managers' own recovery, and to explore how they can support the employees' recovery through their leadership.

Project set-up

The project is funded by AFA försäkring and consists of two phases. In the first phase, first-line managers in healthcare will be interviewed about their experiences of and strategies for recovery in relation to their work, as well as perceived enablers and barriers for supporting their employees' recovery.

In the second phase of the project, we will develop and evaluate an intervention that aims both to support managers' own recovery, and to explore how managers can support the recovery of their employees through their leadership. Information from the interviews in phase 1 will be used as a basis for further developing and adapting the content of the recovery program Bädda för Kvalitet, to match the specific situation and challenges of the first-line managers. We will also develop intervention components supporting a “leadership for recovery”, based on previous research on health-promotive and sustainable leadership including sleep-promoting leadership (“sleep leadership”), as well as information from the interviews in phase 1. The intervention will be delivered as a group-based programme including educative and reflective parts as well as various strategies promoting both own recovery and the recovery of employees. Effects of the intervention on both managers' and employees' health and recovery will be evaluated in collaboration with Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital.

Project status

Phase 1 begins during the autumn 2023.

Phase 2 begins during the autumn 2024.

Working in this project

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Anna Dahlgren

Project leader, associate professor
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Marie Söderström

PhD, licensed psychologist

Andrea Eriksson

Docent at the division of ergonomics, Royal Institute of Technology

Anette Harris

Professor at Institutt for samfunnspsykologi, Universitetet i Bergen