Psychosocial work environment in the Conway Group

The primary goal of our group is to examine those factors that promote or hinder the preservation and development of a positive social and organisational environment in work settings. With the evidence gathered through our research, we aim to encourage stakeholders to establish improved organisational policies and practices that are more effective at promoting and sustaining the well-being and performance among workers of any age.

Research focus

For older workers to stay healthy and work effectively, policies and practices should focus on building the right conditions so that employees are enabled to offer their best contributions to the work organisations until the later stages of their career. This requires a profound analysis of the role that older workers have in their work context – how their experience is used, how their tasks are designed, how they are managed, and the quality of their social environment. With specific regard to retirement, while smoother transition paths are available such as flexible retirement schemes (for instance, reduce working hours), their use might be limited because workplaces do not take into account the competences, skills, needs and preferences of older workers.

In our research, we will employ a mixed-method design, using both quantitative and qualitative analytical approaches, to understand the factors, at both the individual and organizational level, that may influence the decision of older workers to adopt, or not adopt, less abrupt transitions to retirement. The results of our research are expected to improve the use of flexible retirement in work organizations, especially in the view of sustaining and promoting the health and performance of older workers.

Main findings

  • Those employees exposed to negative social relations in their work settings such as workplace bullying and sexual harassment, are at an elevated risk of developing mental health problems (for instance, depression).

  • Targets of workplace bullying are more at risk of staying absent from work for long periods of time as well as leaving their organisation, pointing to a detrimental effect of negative behaviour at work also on the organizations and society at large.

  • We found that engaging in frequent sickness presenteeism (going to work while ill) may have a negative effect on mental health, increasing the risk of developing a depression in the long run.