Work organisation

13 October 2020

Work organisation is about the division of labour, the coordination and control of work: how work is divided into job tasks, bundling of tasks into jobs and assignments, interdependencies between workers, and how work is coordinated and controlled in order to fulfil the goals of the organisation.Read more

Work organisation is about the division of labour, the coordination and control of work: how work is divided into job tasks, bundling of tasks into jobs and assignments, interdependencies between workers, and how work is coordinated and controlled in order to fulfil the goals of the organisation. It encompasses the tasks performed, who performs them and how they are performed in the process of making a product or providing a service. Work organisation thus refers to how work is planned, organised and managed within companies and to choices on a range of aspects such as work processes, job design, responsibilities, task allocation, work scheduling, work pace, rules and procedures, and decision-making processes. 

Read less

Recent updates

Only one-fifth of European companies find secret to combining optimal workplace wellbeing and business performance

‘High investment, high involvement’ workplaces have the best outcomes for workers and employers according to a recent...

European Company Survey 2019 - Workplace practices unlocking employee potential

This report is based on the fourth edition of the European Company Survey (ECS), which was carried out jointly by...

How does employee involvement in decision-making benefit organisations?

How do organisations get the best out of their employees? Research on human resource management has found that a key...

EU context

Top

Work organisation is a key element underpinning economic and business development, with important consequences for productivity, innovation, working conditions and worker-well-being.Read more

Work organisation is a key element underpinning economic and business development, with important consequences for productivity, innovation, working conditions and worker-well-being. Promoting certain forms of work organisation contribute to attaining the objectives set by the European Commission’s new European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience launched on 1 July 2020 and its workplace innovation projects. These objectives aim to move Europe towards a more competitive knowledge-based economy, centred on a skilled workforce and innovation – not only in products and processes, but also in the organisation of work and quality of work standards as it transitions to a digital and carbon-neutral economy.

Workplace innovation and the link with how work is organised can happen in a variety of ways including changes in business structure and business models, human resources management, relationships with clients and suppliers, or in the work environment itself. Social dialogue also has an important role to play in the organisation of work aimed at fostering employee potential, as highlighted in theEU Directive on informing and consulting employees. The European Pillar of Social Rights reiterates the importance of social dialogue and involving workers in processes related to work organisation.

Read less
European Industrial Relations Dictionary

Research

Top

Eurofound research examines the different forms of work organisation introduced by companies and their potential effects on productivity, efficiency and competitiveness, as well as on working conditions and sustainability of work over the life course.Read more

Eurofound research examines the different forms of work organisation introduced by companies and their potential effects on productivity, efficiency and competitiveness, as well as on working conditions and sustainability of work over the life course. Research finds that some types of work organisation are associated with a better quality of work and employment. Modern forms of work organisation emphasise the value of teamwork and training, as well as employee involvement and autonomy.

Data collection on work organisation

Ongoing research by Eurofound monitors developments in work organisation and workplace practices, based on its Europe-wide surveys and on national-level data collection by the Network of Eurofound Correspondents .

Aspects of work organisation are a key focus in the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS), insofar as work organisation is linked with job quality and well-being at work.

The European Company Survey (ECS) is the only EU-wide establishment survey that encompasses a wide range of questions about work organisation, skills use and skills development, human resource management, direct employee involvement and social dialogue. Eurofound collaborated with sister agency Cedefop to carry out the ECS 2019, which covers aspects of work organisation, looking at job complexity and autonomy, spanning teamwork and problem-solving, as well as at collaboration and outsourcing.

A recent European Restructuring Monitor thematic report analysed the effects of restructuring on work organisation outcomes such as work intensification, autonomy, access to training, formal work assessment and teamwork.

Other research explores the effects of digitalisation on work organisation and on related working conditions.

Scope of research

Forms of work organisation

Research on various forms of work organisation, including new methods of organising work resulting from a higher use of digital solutions, analyses their impact on certain dimensions of quality of work and employment, such as physical risk factors, working time, intensity of work, flexibility and satisfaction with working conditions. It highlights the need to develop systems of work organisation that foster employee motivation and well-being,

New forms of employment and digitalisation

Research looks into the emerging new forms of employment that are transforming work organisation and work patterns.

Eurofound has also worked with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to look at the impact of new information and communications technologies (ICT) on work and life, examining the increasing use of telework and ICT-based mobile work and what this means for work organisation, working time, health and well-being, as well as work–life balance.

Importance of work organisation for companies and workers

Eurofound research explores the links between innovations in work organisation and the potential benefits for both employees and organisations, such as optimising production processes and improving the overall experience of work. Well-functioning social dialogue and direct involvement of employees can also make a valuable contribution to the implementation of innovation in the workplace, creating potential win–win arrangements for workers and their employers.

Employee involvement is a necessary component of work organisation, relating to other dimensions such as physical working conditions and work intensity. Research drawing on EWCS data emphasises that greater involvement, either through task discretion or organisational participation, is associated with stronger employee commitment to the job and to the organisation.

COVID-19 and changes in work organisation

Eurofound’s recently launched COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the pandemic, and also examples of company practices to deal with changes in work organisation. An in-depth analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on workplace practices in companies will be completed in 2021.

Read less

Policy pointers

Top
  • Many jobs still offer little autonomy and few challenges: in 36% of EU27 establishments, a small proportion of workers (less than one in five) can organise their work autonomously, and in 42%, a similarly small proportion are in a job requiring problem-solving.
  • Read more
  • Many jobs still offer little autonomy and few challenges: in 36% of EU27 establishments, a small proportion of workers (less than one in five) can organise their work autonomously, and in 42%, a similarly small proportion are in a job requiring problem-solving.
  • Establishments offering jobs with high levels of complexity and autonomy to most of their workers score highest on both workplace well-being and establishment performance. Differences in workplace well-being are particularly pronounced.
  • Nearly half of employees (47%) working in a high-involvement organisation report a high level of work engagement, almost double the share working in a low-involvement organisation (24%). The greater scope for decision-making in high-involvement organisations is intrinsically motivating.
  • High-involvement organisation provides more opportunity for both formal and informal skill development, but it is particularly strongly associated with informal skill development. 
Read less

Publications & data

Top

The sections below provide access to a range of publications, data and ongoing work on this topic. 

  • Publications (434)
  • Data
  • Ongoing work (5)

Eurofound publications come in a variety of formats, including reports, policy briefs, blogs, articles and presentations. 

Data

Related data on this topic are linked below.

Ongoing work

Research continues in this topic on a variety of themes, which are outlined below with links to forthcoming titles.

 

Other ongoing work

  • Investigating the nature of work in digitised workplaces, in particular company approaches to digital devices and their impact on job quality, work organisation and industrial relations 
  • COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch
  • Investigating the impact of COVID-19 on business continuity and changes in workplace practices with emphasis on the sustainability of these changes