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Accessible managers who dare to hand over responsibility are keys to success in small companies in the region


Leadership is key to the growth and profitability of small and medium-sized companies. Moreover, research shows that healthy, committed managers often increase employees’ well-being. This is the focus of the research of Elena Ahmadi, doctoral student.

Elena Ahmadi, doktorand i arbetshälsovetenskap.

Elena Ahmadi.

Elena Ahmadi’s research focuses on leadership, working environments and health in companies in the region that have been nominated to the award “Successful companies in Gästrikland” within the framework of the project “FramFör.” These are companies that have a high ranking, according to criteria for growth and profitability.

In a first study on these companies, Elena Ahmadi targeted managers’ work practices, for example number of working hours per week and how much time they spend touring in the activities and meeting their employees out on the floor.

– Managers often work long hours, which may have consequences for their mental health, but also for the work-life balance. It may also have consequences for the company they work for. In the companies I study, managers spend a large percentage of their time out touring, meeting their employees, Elena Ahmadi says.

"These companies have accessible managers"

In her second study, she interviewed managers and employees in the companies that have remained on the list “The most successful companies in Gästrikland” for several years. These companies have a stable growth, while remaining profitable during a longer time period.

At the moment, she is analysing the material and results indicate that the most successful small companies succeed in growing and remaining profitable while sustaining the well-being of employees and managers.

– These companies have accessible managers who engage in a continuous dialogue with their employees. They help them to solve problems and make fast decision. This creates a close relationship between managers and employees, and it give employees a sense of security as they feel seen and heard. Managers also hand over more responsibility to the employees and give them opportunity to be involved. These are key factors to well-being at work, according to the employees, Elena Ahmadi says.

The job gives them energy

Even when these managers work more than 40 hours a week, they do not find that their workload influences them negatively.

– Rather, they experience that their job gives them energy, that is has a positive influence on them. At the same time, many of the managers interviewed in the study inform us that when the business was small there were periods when they worked 200 percent and that they felt unwell then. Therefore, the time when the business is still small but starts growing could be a time when small entrepreneurs may risk their health, and we need to study this further, Elena Ahmadi says.

Unique opportunity for our students

FramFör is a collaborative project which celebrates 20 years in 2021. Apart from the University, the project involves municipalities in Gästrikland, the county administrative board and various business organisations. Students in the University’s business administration programmes are also involved.

– I am really happy that we have this project. It is unique and an amazing opportunity for our students to connect with different companies. We are now concentrating our efforts on advancing and systematizing our research focused on these companies, Elena Ahmadi concludes.

Text: Anna Sällberg

Published by: Anna Sällberg Page responsible: Anders Munck Updated: 2021-02-23
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