Salutogenic Workplace Design: A conceptual framework for supporting sense of coherence through environmental resources.

ROSKAMS, Michael and HAYNES, Barry (2019). Salutogenic Workplace Design: A conceptual framework for supporting sense of coherence through environmental resources. Journal of Corporate Real Estate.

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to identify and discuss opportunities for health promotion through the workplace environment, adopting a ‘salutogenic’ perspective of health which more explicitly focuses on factors that support human health and wellbeing, as opposed to factors which cause disease. Design/Methodology/Approach: In the introduction, the salutogenic model of health and the Environmental Demands-Resources model are discussed, providing a conceptual framework to represent the workplace environment as a composite of pathogenic ‘demands’ and salutogenic ‘resources’. Subsequently, a narrative review is performed to discuss the existing literature from the perspective of this novel framework, identifying environmental resources which might strengthen the three components of an employee’s ‘sense of coherence’ (comprehensibility, manageability, and meaningfulness), an individual orientation associated with more positive health outcomes. Findings: Comprehensibility can be supported by effectively implementing a clear set of rules governing the use of the workplace. Manageability can be supported through biophilic design solutions, and through design which supports social cohesion and physical activity. Meaningfulness can be supported by recognising the importance of personal identity expression and through design which reinforces the employees’ sense of purpose. Originality/Value: The salutogenic perspective is a potentially valuable but relatively under-considered paradigm in workplace practice. The key contribution of this paper is to encourage researchers and practitioners to recognise the crucial role that an individual’s sense of coherence plays in supporting higher levels of physical and mental health, so that they increase their ability to provide truly ‘healthy’ workplaces, capable of promoting health as well as minimising the risk of disease. The emerging healthy workplaces movement is primarily concerned with the pathogenic (harm-causing) potential of the office environment. The quality of the indoor workplace environment may contain numerous contributors towards ill health (see Al Horr et al., 2016, for review), partly as a result of the cost reduction paradigm which pervades workplace practice, in which space efficiency is prioritised above occupant requirements (Haynes, 2007a). As such, recent certification schemes for optimising heath and wellbeing in the built environment (e.g., the WELL Building Standard; International WELL Building Institute, 2018) largely focus on improving indoor environmental quality through strategies such as the minimisation of airborne pollutants and by reducing various sources of environmental discomfort. In this paper, we will argue that the mitigation of pathogenic environmental components is a necessary but not sufficient step towards the goal of providing truly healthy workplaces. We suggest that it is equally important to consider salutogenic (health-promoting) aspects of the workplace environment, in order to more suitably answer calls for more enabling paradigms in workplace practice (Haynes, 2007a). The distinction between harm-causing and health-promoting factors echoes the World Health Organisation’s (1948) definition of health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”, and also has parallels with the distinction between ‘languishing’ (the presence of mental illness) and ‘flourishing’ (the presence of positive emotions) in the positive psychology movement (Keyes, 2002). In recognition of the fact that the majority of workplace research has tended to be largely atheoretical and segmented by discipline (Sander et al., 2018), we believe future research and practice should be more explicitly designed in accordance with relevant conceptual frameworks. Accordingly, in this paper we explicate two conceptual frameworks to support understanding of the salutogenic potential of the workplace environment. First, we discuss the salutogenic model of health (Antonovsky, 1987), which has received good empirical support in healthcare disciplines. Second, we present the Environmental Demands-Resources (ED-R) model as a way of illustrating the pathogenic and salutogenic aspects of the workplace environment, and how they can be determined through the dynamic employee-workplace relationship.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1504 Commercial Services; 1503 Business and Management
Identification Number:
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2019 09:35
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2021 23:46

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