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For a real quality of life at work, shouldn’t we rethink the actions taken in this direction and put work back at the heart of the process?
Over the past ten years, the quality of life at work (QVT) has become a major issue of performance, attractiveness and social responsibility within companies. The semantic shift that has gradually taken place in psycho-social risks (or PSR) in favor of the notion of QVT, which is less divisive and less negative, should not make us forget that it is indeed initially a means of prevention of work-related risks. Moreover, since March 31, 2022, the replacement of the QVT in the Labor Code by the name of “quality of life and working conditions” (QVCT) is a reminder of this original anchoring.
QVCT is defined as “the conditions in which employees carry out their work, and their ability to express themselves and act on the content of it, which determine the perception of the quality of life at work which results from it. results”. By emphasizing the conditions of effective exercise of work, the QVCT emphasizes that the quality of life at work is above all a matter of organization and concrete professional situations.
A necessary refocusing
Indeed, this is not a simple terminological change, but a strategic refocusing on what QVCT should be. Contrary to the excesses of “great washing” observed in recent years, this does not consist in setting up relaxation areas (table football, table tennis, etc.) or peripheral well-being actions (sophrology courses, yoga …), often unrelated to work. The term “great washing” refers precisely to this progressive decoupling between the internal realities of work and the communication and marketing display operations in favor of well-being promoted by the company. It refers to the green washing of organizations, which direct their communication towards an ecological positioning, often a façade.
These practices can be counter-productive, because they focus mainly on the individual (and not on the professional in an organized activity) and place employees in a form of injunction to happiness (“Everything has been done to make them “ happy””), which reinforces the idea that they are the source of the problem. The content of the work is the heart of the target, it is the priority n° 1 in terms of QVCT. The content of the work refers in particular to the question of autonomy, the adequacy of objectives/resources, the variety of tasks performed, the workload, but also to interpersonal relations and managerial practices. In short, to the freedom and the means that everyone has to act, evaluate and develop their work. However, today, the QVT agreements only slightly address these strategic subjects, which nevertheless explain part of the current labor crisis and many situations of professional malaise.
Three essential principles
To be effective, actions in favor of QVCT must be centered on work and its organization, and must be based above all on three axes:
– They must first of all be an opportunity to reflect on the workload, its conditions of exercise (flexibility of hours, access to teleworking, redesign of workspaces, disconnection), available resources (distribution of the workload of work and responsibilities, quality of tools to work well), sense of activity, managerial support, etc. It should be remembered that the possibility of carrying out one’s missions well is one of the pillars of well-being at work.
– They must then give employees the opportunity to express themselves and participate in all these aspects of work, in terms of organization, management and health prevention. Logically, it aims to reflect on the corporate culture and to question the standards related to valuation, recognition or commitment to work.
– Finally, they must not forget that it is the entire ecosystem and the work collective that must be involved in this general approach. The QVCT approach has focused a lot on the individual as a human (concierge services, yoga classes, stress management seminars, etc.) and not as a professional in an organized activity, largely abandoning the organizational dimension in factors influencing well-being at work. However, the employee is part of an organized activity, in a given relational and material work context, with a strategy that he does not decide, relations of power and domination to which he must conform… This tendency to individualization of the work issues that characterized the QWL tilts the origin of the problems a little more on the side of the employees, and not on the side of the structural or systemic problems.
These elements highlight the fundamentals of well-being at work. This is not reduced to the simple maximization of pleasures (hedonic dimension), but it encompasses the alignment of the employee with the values of a job well done, the meaning of the missions conferred, positive relations with a work collective, the ability to satisfy their needs for autonomy, skills and development in order to realize their full potential. The quality of life and working conditions must above all be this eudemonic opportunity!
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