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Well-being at work is the well-being of the company

Consideration of work and production, their locations and the people who embody them, appears increasingly as a founding factor of a different approach to the company and its culture. Work seen as creativity and capacity of manufacture, as initiative and innovation, appears as a lens, somewhat neglected to date, for observing how firms today, after the orgy of computerisation and financialisation at all costs, succeed not only in riding out the recession but also in creating in any case wealth. It is corporate culture which becomes work culture, or rather ties again threads partly broken with that vision of production which, until some time ago, belonged to great entrepreneurs.

It is important therefore to understand how managers can consider work today and, more generally, the role of the so-called “human capital” in the company. Also in small to medium-sized firms which are in actual fact those which make up the core of industrial production, facing up to larger companies. This was the goal which led Lidia Galabova (from the Technical University of Sofia) and Linda McKie (Durham University) in their The Five Fingers of My Hand: Human Capital and Well-Being in SMEs, just published in Personnel Review. The more specific aim of the study is that of understanding the attitude of managers towards “human capital” and well-being in firms, understood as factors which affect the results of the same firm. The study is based on the data collected from 42 semi-structured interviews with managers of SMEs in areas of growth in the services industry. The research was carried out in three countries of the European Union: Scotland (UK), Finland and Bulgaria.

The result obtained by the two researchers is only apparently banal. The managers of small and medium-sized firms are naturally interested in skills and experience as key elements of the “human capital”. Yet willingness, ability to learn and enthusiasm are, as explained in the research, often considered more important. All this then converges into that “well-being” which in many cases succeeds in making the difference between one firm and another.

The Five Fingers of My Hand: Human Capital and Well-being in SMEs

Lidia Galabova, Linda McKie

Personnel Review, vol. 42, 6, 2013.