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PurposeSmall-scale enterprises (SSEs) are important for sustainable development in Europe and account for a significant proportion of private enterprises and their large contribution to employment. The purpose of this paper is to explore workplace health management (WHM) from the perspective of managers in SSEs in Norway and Sweden.Design/methodology/approachIn-depth interviews with 18 managers in SSEs were conducted and a stepwise qualitative analysis was used.FindingsThe findings are presented as two main patterns: inter-organisational dynamics and participative leadership. Managers discussed opportunities for WHM to foster solidarity and flexibility in the workplace, the potential of employees for self-governance and a cultural environment at the workplace characterized by safety, trust, care, loyalty and humour. The managers employed a process-oriented communicator style, were all-rounders, and demonstrated dedicated and distinct management. Managers in SSEs were lone problem solvers and experienced high and conflicting work demands and work-family conflicts.Research limitations/implicationsThe findings should be interpreted with caution concerning representation of SSEs generally. The enterprises were recruited from an intervention project focussing on WHM and might, therefore, have a positive attitude.Practical implicationsThe managers obtain recommended information about what to do and how to address WHM in SSEs.Originality/valueThis study adds important knowledge regarding the preconditions for creating health promoting workplaces in SSEs, an area for which limited research exists. The findings provide insights and knowledge about managers’ possibilities and obstacles in WHM. The findings could be transferrable to management in similar contexts if managers develop more awareness and knowledge.
International Journal of Workplace Health Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 5, 2017
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