THE CHALLENGE

European and global reports indicate an increase in the spread and severity of mental health problems among the general population in the recent years, thus imposing a major burden on individuals, society and economy across the EU countries.

One quarter of the EU working population is expected to experience a mental health problem during their lifetime, such as depressive episodes, anxiety symptoms, adjustment reactions, burnout syndrome. Accordingly, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work reported that common mental disorders, absenteeism, unemployment and long-term disability can be directly linked to work-related stress and are dramatically growing across a number of the EU Member States

Although a large body of evidence emphasises the positive effects of several intervention strategies on work-related stress management, the actual implementation of these initiatives within work contexts is still limited.

The main barriers concern:

  • The insufficient awareness about the cost-effectiveness of these practices;
  • The poor training of employers on how to design and implement successful interventions;
  • The insufficient knowledge and resources to effectively manage workers’ mental health and well-being by public organisations and SMEs;
  • An ineffective legal framework and a lack of incentives to encourage employers to put measures in place.

THE SCOPE

H-WORK project has the purpose of designing, implementing and validating effective multi-level assessment and intervention toolkits, evaluating individual and organisational outcomes of the adopted measures and provide further innovative products and services. The aim is to effectively promote mental health, along with policy recommendations for employers, occupational health professionals and policy makers.

In particular, the main project actions concern:

  • The protocol development and validation of psychosocial risk factors evaluation in the workplace (H-WORK Assessment Toolkit - HAT)
  • The HAT includes a semi-structured interview protocol for needs analysis and a digital questionnaire for subjective quantitative data collection on psychosocial risk, mental health and well-being of employees.
  • The testing and validation of a set of effective multi-level interventions (H-WORK Interventions Toolkit - HIT)
  • The HIT integrates the state-of-the-art interventions derived from the consortium expertise and best practices. Based on a systematic multi-level development approach, the HIT is an integrated method, rather than a collection of stand-alone tools. As such, the interventions outlined in the HIT are flexibly customised and linked to the needs of the specific organisation.
  • The elaboration of a protocol (H-WORK Evaluation Toolkit - HET) able to verify and monitor the procedural aspects of the interventions and the economic impact on the life of the organization involved
  • The HET monitors and evaluates the effectiveness and the cost-effectiveness of the adopted measures. It includes a checklist of key questions for the qualitative process evaluation and a set of quantitative scales to easily identify mediators and moderators of the effectiveness of interventions

THE CONCEPT

The main project actions concern the development of a protocol dedicated to the evaluation of psychosocial risk factors in the workplace; testing the effectiveness of a set of multi-level interventions and developing a protocol able to verify the procedural aspects of the interventions and the economic impact on the life of the organization involved.

Pillar #1
Multi-level interventions: IGLO Model
The H-WORK Intervention Toolkit (HIT) will be designed following the multi-level IGLO model that addresses different levels of organization (Individual, Group, Leader, Organisation). Applying a multilevel framework of mental health interventions to reduce stress and stressors, overcomes the pitfall that mental health is ‘the problem of the employee only’. This approach can promote a culture of shared responsibility for inclusion and psychological safety at all levels.
Pillar #2
Bottom-up and participative approach
H-WORK uses bottom-up and participative approach that actively involves employees in identifying the sources of problems and its potential solutions. As such, the details of the actions are designed in cooperation with the endusers. Workers represent the cornerstone of suitable interventions in work settings, they have the highest level of knowledge about their own job and, at the same time, they represent the focal target of initiatives aimed at enhancing mental health in organisational contexts.
Pillar #3
Positive Occupational Health Psychology
The H-WORK concept is driven by the assumption that employees working in a resourceful work environment are more likely to experience greater confidence in their skills, higher levels of well-being and more resources to cope with work-related stress. H-WORK advocates a holistic approach and as such, the HIT will include interventions that derive from the concepts of positive occupational health psychology and promote well-being, flourishing and sustainability in the workplace. H-WORK thus focuses not only on the reduction of ill-health symptoms and adverse conditions, but also on strengthening the resources available at different levels (i.e. IGLO).
Pillar #4
Application of digital technologies
Digital technologies can significantly facilitate the collection of information electronically, and cand also be used to carry out parts of interventions (i.e. e-mental health) and evaluation process using electronic applications to collect feedback from the participants or monitoring the intervention process and their transference. the H-WORK Toolkits will be promoted electronically through the H-WORK Innovation Platform, which will include further services such as the Benchmarking Calculator and Decision Support System.
Pillar #1
Multi-level interventions: IGLO Model
The H-WORK Intervention Toolkit (HIT) will be designed following the multi-level IGLO model that addresses different levels of organization (Individual, Group, Leader, Organisation). Applying a multilevel framework of mental health interventions to reduce stress and stressors, overcomes the pitfall that mental health is ‘the problem of the employee only’. This approach can promote a culture of shared responsibility for inclusion and psychological safety at all levels.
Pillar #2
Bottom-up and participative approach
H-WORK uses bottom-up and participative approach that actively involves employees in identifying the sources of problems and its potential solutions. As such, the details of the actions are designed in cooperation with the endusers. Workers represent the cornerstone of suitable interventions in work settings, they have the highest level of knowledge about their own job and, at the same time, they represent the focal target of initiatives aimed at enhancing mental health in organisational contexts.
Pillar #3
Positive Occupational Health Psychology
The H-WORK concept is driven by the assumption that employees working in a resourceful work environment are more likely to experience greater confidence in their skills, higher levels of well-being and more resources to cope with work-related stress. H-WORK advocates a holistic approach and as such, the HIT will include interventions that derive from the concepts of positive occupational health psychology and promote well-being, flourishing and sustainability in the workplace. H-WORK thus focuses not only on the reduction of ill-health symptoms and adverse conditions, but also on strengthening the resources available at different levels (i.e. IGLO).
Pillar #4
Application of digital technologies
Digital technologies can significantly facilitate the collection of information electronically, and cand also be used to carry out parts of interventions (i.e. e-mental health) and evaluation process using electronic applications to collect feedback from the participants or monitoring the intervention process and their transference. the H-WORK Toolkits will be promoted electronically through the H-WORK Innovation Platform, which will include further services such as the Benchmarking Calculator and Decision Support System.

THE STRATEGY

The H-WORK concepts and approaches have been translated into practice following a strategy that consists of three distinct phases

The Preparation phase develops the theoretical basis for the H-WORK Toolkits (HAT, HIT, HET). H-WORK conducts a needs analysis at each intervention site using the HAT needs analysis protocol to gain a better understanding of the specific needs of each organisation, select the most appropriate multilevel intervention from the HIT and evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the interventions using the HET.

The Implementation phase tests and validates the H-WORK Toolkits through their application in the intervention sites. Public organisations and SMEs involved (see Intervention sites), divided into two groups, are going to take advantage of the Toolkits for a period of 18 months in total. H-WORK is going to collect a series of quantitative and qualitative data along this period to ensure a longitudinal approach.

The Exploitation phase promotes the H-WORK Toolkits and bring the H-WORK Innovation Platform to the market, for policy makers, CEOs, managers, health professionals, insurance companies and researchers.

DATABANK

The data collected at the intervention sites are uploaded to the H-WORK Databank and stored with the strictest confidentiality and protection. The H-WORK Databank will be further enhanced as the technological backbone on which the Benchmarking Calculator (H-BC) and the Decision Support System (H-DSS) will be developed.

WORK PLAN

To achieve the aims of H-WORK project within the total duration of 42 months, an integrated project plan and overall work plan strategy has been applied. It consists of eight structured work packages and strategically positioned milestones.

WORK PACKAGES

MANAGE
Lead partner

The objective is to coordinate and monitor the project activities,
the administrativeand financial aspects.