The Swedish Workplace Programme (SWP) is a joint effort between the International Council of Swedish Industry (NIR) and the Metal and Industrial Workers Union, IF Metall. The programme builds on over a decade of experience in hundreds workplaces in multiple countries. SWP is funded by Sida, Sweden’s government agency for development cooperation.
NIR is a member based non-profit organisation. NIR’s current members consist of nine of Sweden’s largest exporting companies, as well as the Swedish Export Credit Corporation (SEK) and SEB. NIR has been operating for sixty years in the nexus between aid and trade and interacting with a multitude of stakeholders ranging from governments, agencies, academia, and NGOs, as well as business in Sweden and in partner countries. NIR has also been partnering with trade unions for more than a decade.
The Metal and Industrial workers union, IF Metall, partners with NIR in the Swedish Workplace Programme to provide expertise and experience in the Swedish Model – specifically in Social dialogue as it is a proven method in achieving decent work.
Companies that invest in their employees and promote decent work become employers of choice and play an active role in the social and economic transformation. These investments promotes sustainable business and agenda 2030 with the global goals (SDG). Swedish Workplace Programme (SWP) contributes specifically towards the global goal 8 – Decent work and Economic growth.
The programme understands the complex challenges global companies face in relaying, promoting and enforcing their policies and guidelines within their various operations around the world. We offer the often-needed support in facilitating stronger relationships between management and employees. Our team works intimately with the local operation to identify areas of improvement in the workplace while developing activities and employee driven initiatives to achieve the desired goals and objectives.
Our efforts aim to have a far reaching effect not only within the local workplace but within the greater community as well. Participating companies benefit from our extensive SWP network through shared best practices and lessons learned, as well as by sharing their own contributions in the areas of decent and sustainable work in emerging and complex markets.
The Swedish Workplace Programme aims to improve the working conditions in multiple ways, leading to sustainable best practice that can be maintained for the future:
The main beneficiaries of the programme and the relationships established are the local employees and management. Other beneficiaries include members of local unions and suppliers. By implementing a dialogue structure at the workplace level, the beneficiaries are given increased opportunities to express their concerns, to organise and to communicate their needs.This approach enables the workplace to be well prepared to handle change, whether it is planned for or unforeseen.
Peer to peer relationships are developed through our regional Sustainable Business Platforms (SBP). This is a way to engage both partnering companies and interested companies in joint strategic discussions as well as to share peer-to-peer learnings and best practices.
A strengthened dialogue structure combined with a well established relationship between employees and managers can have a lasting positive impact on the labour market at large. As democratic values and dialogues become standardised, trust and understanding increases between employers and employees and conflict decreases. The SWP approach enables the workplace to be well prepared to find joint solutions, mitigate risks, and handle change.
No financial transactions are made between the parties. The company/workplace provide personnel, working time, venue and catering. SWP provides expert services in the facilitation of, and support for training and activities
The strategic areas of Decent Work, Partnerships and Sustainable Business include a wide variety of themes important to any company that wants to implement their company’s policies to fulfill the goals in Agenda 2030.
Over the past 14 years, the Swedish Workplace Programme (SWP) has been developed with numerous global Swedish industry companies at 600 different workplaces in Sub-Saharan Africa for the purpose of developing a joint approach to mitigate the negative impact of HIV and AIDS at the workplace.
Supporting the partnership between employees and management by means of facilitation through social dialogue, companies were able to improve the sustainability of their business operations and to reduce the impact of the disease for their employees.
The impact shows that diverse workplaces facilitate higher levels of productivity and profitability and investments in partnerships were shown to improve communication and workplace well-being, which lead to business growth.
The Swedish Workplace Programme and its approach is developed from the learnings collected from SWHAP (Swedish Workplace Hiv Aids Programme).
Learn more about the SWHAP programme and its accomplishments in the films below.
During 2019 the team initially piloted the Swedish Workplace Programme (SWP). The SWP approach uses social dialogue structures to facilitate a relationship between management and employees’ representatives so that they can take joint responsibility in the design and implementation of improvements at the workplace.
The 23 pilots were intended to establish workplace committees who would then use the social dialogue structure to address and find solutions for identified challenges related to sustainability and decent work in the workplace. These dialogues were then put into action through employee driven initiatives that resulted in change in the workplace. The pilots also sought to identify key learnings and strategies to be used in the global roll-out in 2020.
The outcome of the pilots confirms that the SWP approach is effective in establishing dialogue between employers and employees in the workplace, even when tackling themes beyond wellness and HIV/AIDS.
The social dialogue structure facilitates the identification of challenges of mutual concern at the workplace while providing a platform that allows for the co-creation of solutions.
The SWP approach also proved useful for supporting the policy development, dissemination and implementation process.
A lack of enabling environment for social dialogue at the workplace level, despite the provision of legislative acts that protect and promote workplace cooperation is a reoccuring issue in Kenya. To implement good policy there must be a fertil ground.
Therefore SWP developed the UP! project. Together with Swedish companies as an entry point, and with unions i South africa and Kenya.
In Kenya SWP created the SWP UP! Programme targeting skills development of the union Shop Stewards from 18 companies in the Automotive sector in Kenya during 2021. As a result, the Stewards were able to use their skills to build trust and cooperation with management in new ways to avoid conflicts.
A second cohort of training, in close cooperation with union AUKMW, takes place in 2022.
The training allows shop stewards to step out of their daily routines and understand their role and the purpose of their union, understand the labour market context, the laws that regulate relationships and the business itself. But on a human level, many shop stewards also highlighted that they feel respected as human beings, and that they have developed the skills to engage with supervisors and management and experience respect in professional relations. The experiences had deeply impressed them and helped to project the vision of dialogue and mutual respect and their own potential as a means to change workplaces.
The intervention of the SWP programme had a direct effect at the workplaces, where shop stewards listed several cases where they had managed to intervene and secure results in dialogue with management, avert crises or find solutions based on opportunities and the communication skills obtained during the SWP training. For the Amalgamated Metal Workers Unions in Kenya, the shop stewards pointed to how the training had enabled them to design their own strategies at the workplace in relation to supervisors and staff, and to achieve many concrete results.