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Psychological Distress in the Swedish Construction Industry - The Impact of Culture and Staff Shortages on the Psychosocial Work Environment

Sara Blomkvist ; Rikard Landegren Hagen
Göteborg : Chalmers tekniska högskola, 2017. 72 s. Examensarbete - Institutionen för bygg- och miljöteknik, Chalmers tekniska högskola; BOMX02-17-60, 2017.
[Examensarbete på avancerad nivå]

The Swedish housing market is currently facing enormous challenges with housing shortages. In order to meet the demands, approximately 710.000 new homes will have to be built until 2025 (Boverket, 2016). Despite favourable market conditions, there is a growing concern within the Swedish construction industry regarding staff shortages and difficulties to recruit people with sufficient competences. Due to the current debate about psychological distress in Sweden, we find it interesting to investigate how the staff shortages affect the well-beings among employees within the construction industry. In order to achieve a holistic perspective of the issue of psychosocial distress, two empirical studies were conducted, a web-based survey and an interview study. In the survey, 20 different and larger Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) companies gave their views on work-related distress and organisational measures from an individual perspective. Furthermore, six of these companies participated in the interview study, in which the interviewees shared their company’s perspective on distress, stress management and staff shortages. Our findings show that the current staff shortages are estimated to contribute to intensified workloads for AEC employees. Increased workloads have negative impacts on employees’ psychological well-beings and work performances, and might also contribute to a more strained and hostile working climate. However, staff shortages cannot necessarily explain every critical stressors that were brought up during the studies, such as role conflicts, Power Distance and certain attitudes. These stressors might instead be influenced by traditional assumptions, conservatism and beliefs within the core of the organisational culture. The Swedish construction industry has recently shown a more open attitude towards the issue, but our findings indicate that there are still a lot of things that can be improved. To overcome the staff shortages, we suggest faster and easier integration of newly graduates and foreign labour into the business. The younger generation’s values and mind-sets regarding ‘Work-life Balance’ could possibly contribute to a more modernised organisational work-climate. In addition, the industry must continue to work proactively to change the conservative approach within the organisational culture and make it more attractive for women and Millennials.

Nyckelord: Psychological distress, work environment, stress, stress management, proactive- and reactive measures, Swedish construction industry, AEC industry, organisational culture, staff shortages & ‘Work-life Balance’.



Publikationen registrerades 2017-09-07. Den ändrades senast 2017-09-07

CPL ID: 251762

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