Organizational interventions Countervailing interventions and the sound of well-being

Organizational interventions

organizational interventions

Here is an overview of the publications that are linked to the field of countervailing intervention research. In other words: health promoting interventions in organizations. This research does mainly consist of publications linked to the research project "The Sound of Well-Being".

Countervailing interventions
A new way of thinking health promotion in organizations

Building healthy organizations through music and culture interventions

Milch, Vaag, Giæver & Saksvik (2013)

Published in Salutogenic Organizations and Change


Interventions at work are often directed towards solving specific problems in the work environment. They are typically located on one of three levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. However, little research has been done on countervailing interventions, that is, proactive and health promoting interventions that focus on facilitating the positive aspects of the work situation and through this counteract the effects of negative situations and events. The intervention project “The sound of well-being” was a culturally based intervention to stimulate well-being for employees in the public sector. It was utilized to spread joy, increase motivation and unity, and to encourage work engagement and well-being in general. The project involved the forming of local choirs, rehearsals with and without professional musicians, mini concerts, choir battles, musical arrangements, sing back and ultimately a grand finale. In this chapter we investigate the utilization of countervailing interventions that take on a pro-active approach, aimed at promoting health and well-being in the workplace without being introduced as a response to an existing problem in the organization. It is our aim that this chapter will highlight the need for new ways of thinking concerning interventions, and explore new ways of developing cost efficient, yet effective interventions to promote employee health and well-being.

Main message: Introducing the term countervailing interventions, with an example from the "sound of well-being"-project
The sound of well-being
Using choir singing as a countervailing intervention in two norwegian county hospitals

Sound of well-being - choir singing as an intervention to improve well-being among employees in two norwegian county hospitals

Vaag, saksvik, theorell, skillingstad & bjerkeset (2013)

Published in Arts & Health


Objective: Interventions promoting a healthy psychosocial work environment are common, yet little is known about participation and effectiveness of such measures. The aim of this study was to describe differences between participants and nonparticipants in the Sound of Wellbeing (SOW) initiative, including a variety of demographic characteristics, perceived work environment, psychological factors and self-perceived health. The study also compared the participants' and non-participants' retrospective perception of change in the psychosocial work environment and their health during the project period. Methods: In this cultural organizational-level intervention, employees in two county hospitals participated as singers with different hospital departments forming their own choir. The majority of employees (1431 employees; 57.4%) completed a survey questionnaire after the intervention, of which 426 (29.8%) had participated. Results: We analysed the differences between participants and non-participants on several descriptive characteristics, personality, engagement, commitment, general health and demand-control-support, as well as their self-perceived change in some of these variables. Lower participation was found among men, employees above 62 and below 38 years of age, part-time employees, university-educated workers and health care workers. Furthermore, we found more engagement, organizational commitment and self-reported positive change with regard to psychosocial work environment and global health in participants compared to non-participants. Conclusions: The intervention showed promising results for incorporating cultural activities in the work environment, but further investigation of the effectiveness of organizational-level interventions using a pre–post design is needed.

Main message: Incorporating cultural activities in the work environment, such as choir singing, shows promising results, but there are group differences between participants and non-participants
The sound of well-being revisited
Using choir singing as an organizational intervention may not suit everyone

SOund of well-being revisited - choir singing and well-being among norwegian municipal employees

vaag, saksvik, milch, theorell & bjerkeset (2014)

Published in Journal of Applied Arts & Health


A recent cross-sectional study investigating an organizational choir-singing intervention called ‘Sound of Well-being’ (SOW) indicated health and organizational benefits, and a gender-specific pattern of participation and outcomes. In this study we investigate participation and effects in a short version of SOW. A total of 1100 employees of a Norwegian municipality were invited to participate in SOW. At baseline, 472 (42.9 per cent) employees filled in a questionnaire concerning demographics, personality, health, engagement, commitment and psychosocial work environment. A total of 312 (66.1 per cent) of these completed the same survey one to three weeks after SOW was finished. We found that female gender and extroversion were linked to participation in SOW. Women reported significant changes in engagement, self-perceived health and control, while men reported changes in job demands. Overall, participants reported an increase, while non-participants reported decrease on aforementioned variables. In terms of participation and effects of SOW, findings differed between professions, personality types and gender. In order to provide desirable alternatives to a wider group of employees, future interventions should include a variety of both receptive and creative activities.

Main message: There are differences between participants and non-participants in terms of change during the intervention
The sound of well-being - part 3
Main message: Participating in the intervention were experienced positively, but the intervention did also create a divide between participants and non-participants

Choral singing as an arts-based organizational intervention: a qualitative study of employees' experiences

Giæver, Vaag & Wennes (2016)

Published in Arts & Health


Background. There is currently not much in-depth understanding of employee perspectives on the adoption of arts-based organisational interventions. This paper focuses on how one intervention consisting of choral singing in a workplace affected the employees’ sense of well-being and their perceptions of their work environment. Methods. Ten employees were interviewed about their personal experiences after the completion of a choral singing intervention in their organisation. Template analysis was adopted, and the study drew on the findings of a quantitative study of the same intervention. Results. Four themes were identified: (1) barriers for participation in the project; (2) positive experiences and effects; (3) negative experiences and effects; and (4) a sense of emptiness after the project had ended. Conclusions. It was evident that participation in the intervention was experienced positively, but also that a divide emerged between participants and non-participants, something which had negative consequences for both parties.

Created By
Jonas Vaag


Created with images by Mariamichelle - "ice sculptures gaylord palms exhibit charlie brown" • Shanice Garcia - "untitled image" • dimitrisvetsikas1969 - "cyprus limassol carnival singers cantata choir parade" • Jason Rosewell - "untitled image" • 19dulce91 - "microphone karaoke music"

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