Join our new project to support a safe COVID-19 recovery for UK businesses
In this blog post, Dr Matteo Curcuruto explains how his new international research project is supporting UK-based organisations in striking the balance between maximising their productivity and maintaining the highest safety standards to keep their employees and customers free from the risk of COVID-19 infection.
Our PASH research team – Psychology Applied to Safety and Health, within the Leeds School of Social Sciences – is currently working as part of an international network of psychologists interested in understanding how businesses can best thrive in a post-lockdown COVID world.
Our team is committed to supporting UK-based institutions and businesses in navigating the challenges associated with resuming operations while limiting the risk of spreading COVID-19 for workers and customers.
It is difficult to achieve high enough productivity and profitability to save a business whilst implementing the new rules and guidelines to contain COVID-19 - which change the way the work is usually done.
Successfully navigating these complex changes requires workers to have a long-lasting shift in their behaviours in following COVID-secure restrictions. It also requires employers to design work tasks and social interactions at work in the safest and most productive way.
Our new international research project to increase the effectiveness of organisations
We are interested in helping UK-based businesses and institutions to better understand the following questions. And through this, we want to help implement changes to increase the effectiveness of organisations during this time:
1) How can businesses better navigate the new COVID-secure ways of working while maximising their productivity?
2) Which human and organisational factors promote positive attitudes to the new COVID-secure ways of working?
3) Which organisational strategies in navigating COVID-19 support the creation of a strong organisational culture of COVID-prevention in the workplace; and which other existing organisational climates (profitability; workers fear of losing their jobs) negatively affect this culture of COVID-prevention?
4) Which strategies can be implemented by high-risk organisations to best navigate three competing priorities (1) being as productive as possible under COVID-secure ways of working, (2) ensuring employees are committed to protecting themselves and their teams from the risks of infection, and (3) maintaining a high focus on standard safety regulations to limit accidents and errors?
“The main focus of our research unit is helping organisations to embed safer and more productive ways of working”
Together with Dr Jim Morgan, I am currently co-leading the Psychology Applied to Safety and Health (PASH) research unit at Leeds Beckett. PASH has extensive experience conducting research and consulting projects with a broad range of organisations.
The main focus of our research unit is helping organisations to embed safer and more productive ways of working, using human factors and occupational psychology principles.
In the recent years, we have delivered complex research projects to increase safety culture in the workplace, and ultimately, to contribute to the decrease of accident and injury rates in safety critical industries.
However, the emergent pandemic context requires a revision of our scientific models and intervention strategies.
Given the importance that we attribute to both the advancement of safety research and the knowledge transfer processes, the PASH research team is particularly keen to collaborate with industries and institutions that are coping with incredible new challenges caused by the pandemic emergency, supporting their potential to develop new managerial solutions and organisational programs to cope with the new scenario.
Equipping organisations with the tools and insight they need
In this new project, our research team is collaborating with Italian and Spanish researchers from the University of Chieti (Professor M. Cortini and Dr G. Guidetti) and the University of Valencia (Professor F. Gracia).
By exchanging research findings from across the UK, Spain and Italy, we hope to gather evidence about the human, social and organisational factors that help companies to thrive during a global pandemic.
We hope to develop tools that will facilitate the recovery of high levels of productivity in organisations while ensuring sustainable shifts in worker behaviour to fully comply with the public health regulations in force in the three countries.
The ultimate goal of this research is to equip organisational leaders with the tools and insight that will facilitate sustainable changes towards safer work, stimulating the economy and eventually returning to some sort of normalcy.
For example, our Italian colleagues - who were the first in Europe to be hit hard by the pandemic crisis - are currently developing a very stimulating research programme with some industries in the automotive sector, to support their economic recovery.
Given our broad experience in the field of occupational safety research, the PASH research team has been advising them on how to ensure that organisations keep a good balance between:
a) the need to return to pre-pandemic levels of organisational productivity,
b) the compliance with pre-existing safety systems aimed at preventing the risk of accidents, and
c) the new public health measures recently introduced to contain the spreading of Covid-19 infection in the workplace.
How to get involved in our new study
We are looking for organisations to take part in our new study.
We are keen to offer our academic expertise to support UK based institutions and industries that are currently striving to achieve the balance between Covid-19 containment, accident prevention, and economic recovery.
We will be gathering the opinions of the organisations’ management and workforce around: the current challenges they are facing, the perception of their human, social and organisational resources, their ability to cope with the current emergency, as well as the potential gaps that need to be addressed to assure a safe journey toward a full recovery and return to the pre-pandemic normalcy.
The study will involve a mixed methodological approach, that will be adapted to the specific characteristics and requests of the organisations who are interested in being part of our study.
This can include, for example, interviews with key people from the management and worker representatives – from the administration to the workforce; safety climate surveys; the analysis of data archives; and focus groups to discuss and share the preliminary research findings.
The administration of multiple research techniques with a 360 degree, multi-level analytical approach will allow us to achieve a deeper understanding of the interplay between productivity, public health instances and workplace safety.
For more information – and to find out more about participating in this study - get in touch with Dr Curcuruto.
To learn more about the broad range of collaboration options offered by the PASH research unit (e.g. Phds, Masters by Research, or Knowledge Transfer Partnerships) please contact Research and Enterprise Lead, Dr Jim Morgan.
Dr Matteo Curcuruto, is a Senior Research Fellow of the Psychology Group at the School of Social Sciences. He is also Co-lead of the PASH Research Unit (Psychology Applied on Health and Safety).