Well-being at work: what if SCOPs had it all figured out?

Well-being at work and if the SCOP had understood everything

La pension reform of 2023, which confirms the postponement of the legal retirement age to 64, raises the question of the sustainability of the job. According to Dares, the statistics department of the Ministry of Labor, 37% of employees did not feel able, in 2019, to hold on to their work until retirement. Exposure to occupational hazards – physical or psychosocial – explains in particular this high figure.

Our recruitment difficulties and the different forms of resignation (visible ou silent) experienced by many companies can be explained in part by the working conditions perceived in the sector or in the position offered, and, more generally, by the mismatch between the expectations of some and the offers of others. Two years of Covid crisis have deeply changed the game. It is therefore not for nothing that specialists today consider the Quality of Life and Working Conditions (QVCT) as a central attractiveness factor, loyalty and business performance.

Faced with this situation, the authors of the study of the Dares conclude:

"A work organization that promotesautonomy, the participation of employees and limits the intensity of work tends to make it more sustainable.

Exposure to risks, physical or psychosocial, goes hand in hand with an increased feeling of unsustainability. Autonomy and social support (from superiors, colleagues, or staff representatives) instead promote sustainability, as participation in decision-making mitigates the impacts of organizational change.

This type of organization is found precisely in cooperative and participatory societies (SCOP). These are public limited companies (SA) or limited liability companies (SARL) which have become "businesses of social and solidarity economy" (SSE) by choice and by approval. The principles (goal pursued other than profit, dual human and economic project) and the rules of the SSE (governance, profit sharing) are thus written into their statutes.

Purposes and rules of governance and sharing specific to SCOPs. Provided by the author

In these structures, the employees are the majority partners: they hold at least 51% of the share capital and 65% of the voting rights. Power is exercised democratically and profits, risks and skills are shared. SCOPs are thus distinguished from traditional companies by the purposes and principles that guide them, the status of associate open to their employees, and their decision-making, organizational and retributive functioning. Quality of life and well-being at work are at the heart of the project, and are not secondary or optional issues.

At the end of two surveys conducted with 205 managers and 554 employees (in research in partnership with the general confederation of SCOPs, the CGSCOP), we were indeed able to observe a high involvement and commitment to work, as well as a general feeling of well-being.

effective power

Managers and co-workers alike express high levels of well-being on average. The table below summarizes the self-assessments of our respondents (score out of 10):

This well-being is favored by cooperative practices (organization of work, decision-making, compensation) which play on the involvement, commitment and sense of security of employees. It also impacts the economic performance of the company.

Employees particularly appreciate their decision-making power. The feeling of “empowerment”, that is to say of emancipation, of “taking power”, is indeed particularly high (8,32/10). According to the American researcher Gretchen M. Spreitzer, this is what employees feel when they exercise a effective power over their professional environment, through a feeling of competence, of impact on what happens in their company, of autonomy in the decisions that concern their work, and of the meaning they find in their work.

Thus, even if the cooperators do not all seize their right to speak in the same way and that in practice the participation is variable, these societies are characterized by a rather high participation of the members in the taking of strategic and operational decisions. .

For the cooperators, this decision-making power gives them the feeling of real involvement with their organization. The table below shows employees' self-assessments of different levels of involvement:

Finally, we note that employee-partners have a level of affective involvement, normative involvement,women empowerment (through feelings of competence, autonomy, and impact), and a higher sense of job security than non-associated employees.

Psychological contract

Our respondents believe, overall, that the contract says psychological with their company is particular and specific to this type of structure. Indeed, the contract between an employee and a company is not only legal: it is also moral. What I can give (my contributions) as what I can receive (rewards) goes beyond the employment contract. For example, I give my loyalty in exchange for a quality of life at work. It is a "deal" that the employee-partners consider to be balanced.

Our study reveals the importance of cooperative values ​​(support, sharing, democratic participation, right to speak, etc.) in the psychological contract within SCOPs. These "intangible" aspects of the contract make it possible to compensate for more material aspects (remuneration, training, career development, etc.) for which SCOPs do not outperform traditional companies.

The balance of the psychological contract in SCOPs. Provided by the author

Indeed, the cooperators believe that their "immaterial" contract has all the more value as it would be very difficult to find elsewhere, in traditional organisations. In addition, this immaterial component of the contract makes it possible to predict key variables such as the well-being of cooperators, as well as the high meaning they give to their work.

The Need for “Transformational” Leadership

However, for everyone, managers and co-workers alike, the level of well-being depends on the style of leadership. Even if the employees are associated and if the term "manager" or "referent" is often preferred to "director" or "manager", the presence of a leader to bring the cooperative model to life remains necessary.

The differences between "transformational" and "transactional" leadership. Provided by the author

The surveys carried out reveal the importance of the style of leadership adopted within these companies. The so-called "transformational" style (which encourages the autonomy, recognition and enhancement of each member) is in perfect harmony with the values ​​and operation of SCOPs. Such a leader therefore has a very positive influence on the well-being at work of all members, including his own. On the other hand, if his style is rather "transactional", his professional behavior appears to be ill-suited to cooperative functioning and incompatible with the aspirations of cooperators: this style does not promote either his own well-being or that of others.

These results highlight a virtuous spiral, characterized not by very innovative devices, as we could imagine, but by clusters of organizational and managerial practices that are humanely rewarding and economically efficient, guided by values ​​and goals strongly anchored in the statutes. , and not negotiable. If it is not exempt from weaknesses nor exonerated from the constraints which any company knows, one of the successes of the SCOP, in the current context, is to succeed in associating the collective (the "living together" and solidarity) and the individual (autonomy, responsibility, development), human and economic. Yes it's possible !

The virtuous spiral, organized in concentric circles, of SCOPs. Provided by the author

According to the SCOP network, at the end of 2022, there were 2606 of these structures, present in all sectors of activity, which represent 58137 jobs and 8,4 billion in turnover. These cooperative enterprises have also recorded a 11% growth compared to 2021. The 5-year sustainability rate increased by 3 points compared to 2021: it reached 76% compared to 61% for all French companies. The solidity of the SCOPs therefore remains a serious asset of the French economy for employment policies but also those aimed at promoting well-being at work.

Claude Fabre, Lecturer in Management Sciences (human resources specialty), University of Montpellier et Florence Loose, Lecturer in Social Psychology, University of Montpellier

This article is republished from The Conversation under Creative Commons license. Read theoriginal article.

Image credit: Shutterstoxk/ Gorodenkoff

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