In recent years, we have heard more and more about QWL and the quality of life at work has become a key issue for both employers and employees.  In this guide we will look at QWL, its usefulness and the rationale behind it. Why is it now a central preoccupation of professionals?

What is Quality of Life at Work (QWL)?

The scientific origins of the QWL concept

The concept of quality of life at work is not new and is the result of years of reflection and debate, particularly on the place of the employee at work. This work followed many criticisms of old forms of work such as Taylorism. It was in the United States in particular that the concept of QWL took hold after Maslow's work and ideas on the motivating factors of employees at work.

It was in 1972 that the term QWL was first mentioned at a conference in New York. This event gave rise to several definitions of the concept, which became increasingly important as a result of the collective interest in the health and well-being of the individual at work.

The different definitions of QWL

The ANACT (national agency for the improvement of working conditions) gives different definitions of the notion of QWL: 

- "Quality of life at work is first and foremost about work, working conditions and the possibility they open up or not to "do a good job" in a good atmosphere, within the framework of its organisation."

- "Quality of life at work refers to and groups together under the same heading the actions that make it possible to reconcile both the improvement of working conditions for employees and the overall performance of companies, especially when their organisations are transforming. 

- "Quality of life at work can be conceived as a feeling of well-being at work perceived collectively and individually which encompasses the atmosphere, the company culture, the interest of the work, the working conditions, the feeling of involvement, the degree of autonomy and accountability, equality, a right to make mistakes granted to everyone, recognition and appreciation of the work done."

- The conditions in which employees perform their work and their ability to express themselves and act on its content determine the resulting perception of the quality of life at work."

Why implement a QWL approach?

The implementation of a QWL approach appears to be essential, even unavoidable, for companies because of everything it can bring to the organisation and because of all the transformations it can allow.

The main objective of this approach is to link the improvement of working conditions and the company's performance in terms of results. This approach must reconcile and satisfy the expectations of employees while meeting the expectations of employers. 

According to Pôle emploi, the benefits of such an approach enable the company to achieve real results in terms of :

- A more efficient internal organisation: One of the essential levers is the implementation of a collaborative working framework via a more agile organisation and a transversal management based on multi-headed decision-making

- Improving the social climate and internal relations: By encouraging and promoting exchanges and dialogue between the different positions in the company, this will create a climate of trust and improve relations between colleagues, which is an essential factor in well-being at work.

- Boosting the attractiveness of the company: For generations entering the labour market, the working environment and quality of life at work is an essential variable when looking for a job. These criteria are often decisive in their choice to join one organisation or another.

- Creating a sense of belonging for employees: A QWL approach allows the employee to be considered, it will give meaning to the work and create a sense of cohesion and unity of the company through its values.

Implementing a QWL approach in a company

When should a QWL approach be implemented?

The timing of the implementation of a QWL approach is essential, even crucial, since implementing such an important approach at the wrong time could prove disastrous. Indeed, it is important to avoid moments of intense conflict or crisis that a company might experience (strike, breakdown in dialogue, etc.). Thus, the QWL approach must be implemented when the company's activity and situation is said to be "normal" and stable. The various stakeholders in the process must be in the right frame of mind and inclined to dialogue and internal change. 

The implementation of a QWL plan can also be the result of an initial psychosocial risk prevention initiative. Although the QWL approach is more general and encompassing, the two approaches have many similarities and can therefore be complementary.

Learn more on the ANACT website (french)

The leitmotiv of such an action must therefore be change, and the approach can therefore be implemented during an action plan aimed at correcting dysfunctions or during a project to transform the organisation of work in particular.

Quality of life at work

More informations on the page 14 of the ANACT guide (French)

Prioritise the projects to better organise the QWL approach

There is no standard QWL approach model to adopt for companies; the principle of the approach is flexible and must be adapted to each organisation and its context. Once we have understood when to take the approach and what the objectives will be, we need to prioritise the tasks so that the approach is as organised and effective as possible.

Prioritisation can be done in three stages: 

- List and prioritise the problems: The first step is to list all the problems encountered in the company, whether they are small or large, whether they concern a few or many employees. In this way, no one should be forgotten, since solutions will have to be found, and this can be done by means of discussion groups between the various members concerned by these problems. Of course, some problems are more important than others, so they should be given priority.

- Analyse the quality of the proposed solutions: During the brainstorming phase of the discussion groups mentioned above, solutions that are more or less feasible will be considered. It is necessary to analyse these solutions and ideas in order to judge their relevance, feasibility, effectiveness in time, and the resources to be allocated to achieve them.

- Selection of solutions: After properly analysing the different solutions, some ideas should stand out. This is when you start to consider how to implement them, when, with what resources and for how long.

What are the success factors?

The approach must concern everyone and be a general priority in the normal functioning of the company. The project must be clear and there must be an effort to raise awareness and provide information at all levels. By informing as much as possible, this will give a real guideline to the approach and thus transform the different subjective opinions of each person into a real objective direction.

As with any project, there is a risk assessment phase which is crucial and this is also the case in this situation. The more risks that can be an obstacle to the success of this process are identified, the better they can be anticipated.

Finally, throughout the project, communication and dialogue must be at the heart of the process and must be encouraged by all possible means. Thus, debate must be encouraged whatever happens, since the process cannot be effective if it is carried out unilaterally.

Success of a QLW process

What are the employer's obligations regarding QWL?

The employer is the guarantor of the physical and mental safety of his employees, so encouraging QWL initiatives within his organisation is part of his guarantee. 

The size of the company does not create any additional legal obligations, but companies with a large number of employees and substantial resources will have to put in place an organised and effective approach in order to be considered exemplary.

The nature of the approach is the responsibility of the employer, who must not restrict his creativity and ingenuity in order to satisfy employees as much as possible and enable them to have the best possible quality of life at work. In addition to increased job satisfaction, real returns in terms of reduced absenteeism and turnover are expected by the employer when implementing this type of approach.

How Squadeasy improves the Quality of Life at Work

Squadeasy helps to improve the quality of life at work by working on several levers simultaneously. The Squadeasy mobile application aims to make users happy with physical activity and harmony with their social and natural environment. The application allows employees to do sports (walking, running, cycling) to earn points for their team. Quizzes, magic powers, social wall and chat features are also available!

All these features allow for the completion of solidarity missions and challenges, so how does this improve the QWL in the company? 

The application allows, over a pre-selected period of time, to create an internal challenge, which will then reinforce the dialogue, exchanges and cohesion between the different employees of the company. The challenge and the merit being based on physical activity, we know that sport is an important factor of QWL, by the benefits it has on the physical and moral health of individuals.

The Squadeasy tool therefore makes it possible to improve the quality of life at work by encouraging physical activity, strengthening team spirit and commitment to the company's common values.

Squadeasy et bien être

Does it really work? 

Well, yes! Goodwill management, an expert in measuring CSR actions, has estimated that nearly 79% of users feel better in the company and that in 2019 nearly 42 million euros have been saved (less absenteeism, better productivity) thanks to Squadeasy.