“Managers have much to gain from environment issues”
In January 2017, Irene Jensen began her two-year term as chair of Karolinska Institutet’s Work Environment Board. She intends to concentrate on making KI’s leaders more motivated to exploit the advantages of a good work environment.
“I want to make more of KI’s managers and research team leaders aware of how much they have to gain from working with work environment issues. It impacts directly on our scientific production and quality,” says Irene Jensen.
“We don’t intend to lecture or force the organisation to do things,” the new chair continues. “It’s more a matter of providing evidence-based ways of working, giving managers ideas for how to create the best possible working conditions for their staff.”
Irene Jensen is a professor at the Institute of Environmental Medicine at KI and her research specialty is in fact work environment. To be more exact, questions concerning effective work environment management, what measures have an effect, and what ill-health in the workplace costs and how it can be prevented.
Professor Jensen says that a good psychosocial work environment comprises three principal factors: possibilities for self-checking and independence in one’s work, leaders who encourage, inspire, listen to and emphasis with their staff members, and who welcome discussion and exchange of experiences.
“Here we have a challenge in an academic world where people compete for funding and services. At the same time, research has shown that it’s worth striving for a culture where we share because it leads to better results from our scientific work,” she goes on.
In her position as chair she also wants to strengthen collaboration between Karolinska Institutet’s central work environment board and the different departments’ work environment groups. The board is intended to be a support function for the groups so that they in turn can support managers and leaders at the departments.
She has earlier led work environment efforts at KI for a total of six years and has among other things worked to institute regular organisation-wide employee surveys at KI. Irene Jensen succeeds Christer Sandahl.
Text: Selma Wolofsky