2017-2018: Work pressure research EUR

The Committee Work Pressure (Werkgroep Werkdruk), consisting of EUROPA, U-raad, the service boards (dienstraden) USB, UB and ABD, the Faculty councils ESHCC and RSM, commissioned research to gain insight in possible solutions for the EUR to lower work pressure to an acceptable level. The aim of the research is twofold; 1) providing input for a policy advice by means of qualitative research; 2) gaining insight in the effects of implemented policy by conducting focus groups and a survey within the departments participating in the research.

Six departments of the EUR will be involved in the research. The first part of the research takes a qualitative approach and consists of ten open interviews per department with employees in different positions followed by one focus group discussion. Hence, in total 60 interviews and six focus groups will be conducted. The purpose of the interviews is to examine factors that affect experienced work pressure within departments, and to find possible solutions that help lowering work pressure as well as improving the effectivity of the organization. Within the focus groups, employees with different positions will be invited to join the conversation, to discuss the outcomes of the research, and to formulate specific solutions for everyday work practices.

The second part of the research starts early 2018, and consists of a follow-up focus group in each department and a short survey. This part will be aimed at the question whether and how the implementation of the policy progresses and what role the formulated solutions are playing.


  • Laura den Dulk (Erasmus University Rotterdam, project leader)
  • Bram Peper (Tilburg University)
  • Fabian Dekker (Regioplan)
  • Ference Nauta (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

2004 -2015: Care4health/Fit4theJob

Between 2004 and 2015 we launched of a study on the effects of illness on the well-being of employees. This survey was repeated in 2010, 2005 and 2007. A new wave of data collection took place in 2014/2015. Besides the initial focus on absenteeism (2005), attention shifted to well-being of employees (around burnout, flow, job satisfaction, job (in) security, communication, work-life culture and work-life balance (WLB) in 2007 and 2010. The research is longitudinal. The dataset consists of absenteeism data and personnel data, both from the organization (FINCOM). Next to our own questionnaire, we used external health check data related to well-being.


2012 -2013: The depression epidemic at work: A communication intervention to address depressive symptoms

Depression is one of the most critical public health challenges in today’s society. Addressing its symptoms at work is crucial for personal, organizational, and societal welfare. Conventional individual-oriented methods of dealing with health issues at work, such as rehabilitation, are not sufficient to battle the current “depression epidemic”. Therefore, we propose a communication intervention targeted at coping with depressive symptoms at work. Tailoring organizational communication toward employees suffering from depressive symptoms can decrease the harmful consequences of these symptoms.

The etiology of depression involves a complex interplay of different risk factors. The two main cognitive theories of depression explain depressed mood states in terms of dysfunctional attitudes and negative information processing. Dysfunctional attitudes and negative information processing can lead to an intense need for control and negative perceptions. This project focuses on an intense need for control and negative inferences and how they can be countered at work by means of organizational communication. It is proposed that transactional leadership communication ameliorates an intense need for control by providing stability and clarity, whereas adaptive inferential feedback modifies negative perceptions by providing alternatives to depression-inducing inferences.

This research is the first to study the attenuating effect of leadership communication and inferential feedback in reducing the effects of depressive symptoms at work. We will conduct 1) a longitudinal field study, 2) laboratory experiments, and 3) an intervention study to test the process model of depression proposed here and to demonstrate its wide-ranging implications. In this way, we will be the first to develop an organizational communication strategy that can mitigate the negative effects of depressive symptoms at work, which will subsequently prevent employees from losing their jobs and thus prevent the employer from having to pay the costs associated with turnover.


  • C.L. ter Hoeven (University of Amsterdam, project leader)
  • Bram Peper (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

2001-2010: Changes in Work and Life (CWL)

The purpose of this project is to examine what happens after an organisation has decided to adopt work/life policies or to translate public provisions into practices; i.e. to investigate the implementation of work/life policies. Two perspectives are central: the perspective of the individual employee and the managerial perspective. By investigating the decision making of managers in different organisations in various countries, as well as the experiences of employees new insights can be gained under which circumstances work/life policies are success full for both the organisation and the work/life balance of employees. In total data will be collected in 7 organisations across 3 different countries; i.e. the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Sweden. The national context in which organisations operate differs between countries. Countries differ in the degree public policies intervene in the work/life balance. Sweden is known for its wide range of public policies regarding leave arrangements and public childcare. The UK and the Netherlands have less legislation. In the research project government policy is related to experiences with work/life policies within firms and organisations. Organisations are selected from the financial sector (one or two private companies, one public). In each organisation managers are interviewed and asked to participate in a vignette study on managerial decision-making regarding the use of work life policies. A survey among a representative sample of employees will be conducted in each organisation to determine the utilisation of policies and the factors that may affect take up.


  • Laura den Dulk (University of Utrecht  / Erasmus University Rotterdam)
  • Bram Peper (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
  • dr. Anneke van Doorne-Huiskes (University of Utrecht, supervision)

2003 – 2006: TRANSITIONS

TRANSTIONS is a qualitative cross-national research project which aims to examine how young European adults negotiate motherhood and fatherhood and work-family boundaries in the context of labour market and workplace change, different national welfare state regimes and family and employer supports. The project is examining individual and household strategies and their consequences for well being at the individual, family and organisational levels. This is studied in the context of parallel organisational contexts and macro levels of public support in the 8 participating countries: France, Portugal, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, the UK, Bulgaria and Slovenia.