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Learning-relevant characteristics of work design in the service-sector: The role of leadership

Project number: F 2372 Institution: Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) Status: Completed Project


Organisations currently face the requirement to prepare their employees appropriately for the digital transformation. The increased use of digital tools is changing work tasks, the division of labour and forms of collaboration, thus presenting employed persons and managers with a wide range of added responsibilities in the area of learning.

Learning at work – known as work-integrated learning – can be a key strategy for meeting this challenge effectively. In this research project, administration was brought into consideration as a core task of management. Specifically, the administrative departments of ten organisations were examined, including municipalities, banks and insurance companies. The research project analysed how the professional competencies, health and ability to work of employed persons can be improved by promoting learning at the level of the workplace activity, the management and the organisation as a whole.

The analysis consisted of three separate parts. Firstly, employed persons (n = 538) and their managers (n = 144) were given an online survey, secondly, activity analyses were completed (n = 25), and thirdly, high-quality expert interviews (n = 33) were carried out with company HR managers, interest groups, and stakeholders in the area of occupational health and safety.

The results demonstrate that the promotion of learning correlates positively with the occupational expertise, health and work ability of employed persons. Managers are identified as decisive drivers for work-integrated learning. The configuring of work and giving support to learning by managers are two mutually-beneficial areas in the promotion of learning. Managers require a supportive set of conditions, such as the authority and responsibility to promote staff learning and assistance through a competent form of personnel development. Above all else, a stronger focus should be made on the connection between individual learning at the workplace and organisational learning in both the research and at the practical level.



Unit 1.3 "Structural Change and Work Organisation"

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