Diversity and Occupational Participation

The world of work is growing increasingly diverse and organisations’ structures and value creation processes are continuously becoming more differentiated. At the same time the diversity of workforces is being accorded ever more significance. The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin, BAuA) is investigating the opportunities and challenges of these developments and identifying success factors of diversity and participation of  various employee groups in the workplace.

A young man with Down syndrome works in an industrial factory, drives a work machine, concept of social integration
© iStock | Halfpoint

Diversity in the workplace can often initially be perceived as a “disruptive factor” that creates “friction losses” in organisational processes.

For example, employees may not understand a work task correctly on account of language difficulties, older workers may no longer be able to perform at their full physical capacity, or flexible working time models may render team meetings nearly impossible. Thinking about diversity therefore has to be consciously integrated into all organisational processes. Only then is it possible to make allowances for every employee’s personal strengths and weaknesses in value-creation processes.

BAuA researches issues relating to differential work design. The intention is to support individuals who would not be able to perform certain activities without appropriate support. In particular, assistive technologies allow employees with physical and mental impairments or disabilities to perform new activities.

Depending on how they are configured, innovative technologies can open up new opportunities for inclusion or actually create barriers. Until now the labour force participation rate for people with disabilities has been noticeably lower than the rate for the population as a whole. This is why we explore the working situation of people with disabilities and identify factors that contribute to successful inclusion.

Apart from this, BAuA investigates the connections between working conditions and health among various groups of employees distinguished by particular characteristics, such as age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, nationality, religion, personal values, world view, social background, and various physical and mental capabilities. The aim is to better understand the needs and vulnerabilities of specific groups of workers and to enhance their employability.

BAuA’s context-sensitive research looks at diversity as it interacts with working conditions, organisational factors, and social dynamics. For example, hospitals’ commercial orientation towards  flatrate payment influences the working conditions experienced by their nursing staff.

Another focus is on reintegration processes and the effectiveness of return-to-work (RTW) measures. The research line “Strengthening RTW Management and Promoting RTW Processes” is concerned with describing and analysing the reintegration processes, the current practice of phased reintegration, and the effectiveness of return-to-work measures (e.g. intensified aftercare in psychiatric outpatient clinics).

The impacts of demographic change on the labour market also deserve to be paid particular attention. Ageing workforces and shortage of skilled workers make it imperative to design working conditions both age-appropriately and ageing-appropriately so that employees are able to carry out their work healthily for many years.

Further Information

Forschungsprojekte

Project numberF 2518 StatusOngoing Project Work and health situation of employees in low-skilled work

To the Project

Research ongoing

Project numberF 2540 StatusOngoing Project Quality of participation in working life - Measuring, describing and designing the work situation of people with disabilities

To the Project

Research ongoing

Project numberF 2459 StatusOngoing Project Gradual Return to Work (G-RTW): Current implementation and potentials for further improvement

To the Project

Research ongoing

Project numberF 2525 StatusOngoing Project Formative qualitative evaluation of an early intervention at the workplace (FRIAA) for employees with common mental disorders

To the Project

Research ongoing

Project numberF 2538 StatusOngoing Project Intensified return to work aftercare in psychiatric outpatient clinics of psychiatric hospitals (RTW-PIA)

To the Project

Research ongoing

Project numberF 2503 StatusCompleted Project People-oriented tasks

To the Project

Research completed

Project numberF 2488 StatusCompleted Project Interaction work: effects and design of technological change

To the Project

Research completed

Publikationen

Prevalence of Operational Integration Management: Are Health Orientation and Social Resources More Critical Than Company Size? Results of the 2018 BIBB/BAuA Employment Survey

Publishing year: 2023

Suchergebnis_Format Essay (in German)

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Workplace health promotion measures - Who gets an offer, who participates?

Publishing year: 2023

Suchergebnis_Format baua: Facts

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Working conditions of employees with and without disabilities: Similarities and differences

Publishing year: 2023

Suchergebnis_Format baua: Facts

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Ageing- and age-appropriate work design - Basics and fields of action for the practice

Publishing year: 2017

Suchergebnis_Format baua: Guidance (in German)

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Demographic change at work - Heavy physical work puts more strain on older people

Publishing year: 2014

Suchergebnis_Format Fact Sheet

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