“We need to identify the relevant work environment factors that influence health, well-being and productivity among workers in the green sector”
As the course “Sustainable Industries, Sustainable Jobs? Work Environment in the Recycling Industry” approaches we asked course leader Live Bakke Finne about her research career and how she got invested in well-being among workers in the green sector.
Live Bakke Finne combines psychology and sustainability in her research and has a background in occupational health psychology.
I finished my PhD on the influence of psychosocial work characteristics on mental health in 2016. I have been working at STAMI (The National Institute of Occupational Health in Norway) since 2009 where I have been involved in and also been in charge of research projects on a variety of topics related to psychosocial work characteristics and health – from psychosocial work environment in the recycling industry to topics related to the “future of work” to developing a work environment survey for governmental agencies in Norway to violence and threats among child care workers. In addition to my research activities, I have held a leader position at STAMI and I have given many lectures aiming to spread STAMIs knowledge on work environment and health to relevant actors in the working life in Norway.
When I decided to do a master`s degree in work and organizational psychology I did so due to a general interest in psychology and more specifically in what was important to build a healthy working life that also enables employees to perform well in their job. My original plan was to work as a consultant or in a human resource department. However, during my master`s I became interested in research and methodological issues and one of my professors convinced me to pursue a PhD.
Highlights, challenges and goals
After a long and demanding PhD journey, the day of my doctoral dissertation was a big highlight. Both the discussion with my opponents and celebrating with my colleagues, supervisors, family, and friends. It was a really fulfilling day! Another important highlight so far has been being the project leader of a research project on psychosocial work environment in the recycling industry in Norway. Carrying out an intervention project on an aspect of the work environment that traditionally have not been in focus in this industry being a new and inexperienced project leader was a real challenge. However, in close and very good cooperation with the industry we managed to see it through, gaining many useful experiences and important knowledge. I will tell you all about it at our upcoming NIVA course.
I also must mention the opportunity to talk about and discuss the important topic of psychosocial work environment and health with a broad range of relevant actors in the working life in Norway.
“The green sector is expanding in a fast pace and work environment issues could be easily overlooked. There is still much to be learned about work environment in green jobs in general and in the recycling industry specifically.”
When it comes to challenges, I think that the biggest challenge so far has been juggling all the different tasks I have working as a researcher, finding the balance between research activities, leader tasks and the important task of communicating our knowledge to the working life. Also, considering all the interesting and relevant topics in the broad field of occupational health psychology and the fact that time is limited, figuring out which research questions to pursue is a challenge. I am still on that journey.
As we are all aware of, the challenge of global climate change is urgent, and we need to come up with good solutions quickly. The green sector is expanding in a fast pace and work environment issues could be easily overlooked. There is still much to be learned about work environment in green jobs in general and in the recycling industry specifically. We need to identify the relevant work environment factors that influence health, well-being, and productivity among workers in the green sector and we need to communicate this knowledge to the relevant actors in the working life. As the workers in these industries typically is exposed to a broad range of work environment exposures, I think that developing interdisciplinary studies of high quality is important.
“Together we need to make sure that the «green-collar» workers that plays a crucial role in the transition to a greener and more sustainable future for all of us, have sustainable working conditions.”“
My overall goal is to produce knowledge that is utilized to create a working life that both prevent employees developing ill-health due to their jobs, and to create working situations that enable people to perform well at work and to experience meaning and development. An important part of this is to educate people on the value of working knowledge-based when they implement efforts to improve the work environment in their organization. I aim to achieve this through conducting high quality research on relevant topics in the field of work- and organizational psychology and to be involved in interdisciplinary research in green industries like the recycling industry where the employees is faced with a broad range of work environment challenges.
About the upcoming course
We have put together an interdisciplinary program which we hope will inform and inspire the participants to consider and examine the whole range of the work environment challenges faced by employees in this important industry in the shift towards a green economy. We hope that the participants, both academics and practitioners will learn from each other, have interesting discussions, and connect with future collaboration partners.
Together we need to make sure that the «green-collar» workers that plays a crucial role in the transition to a greener and more sustainable future for all of us, have sustainable working conditions.