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Matterhorn – Leadership of Well-being and Psychological Working Environment


A good psychological working environment is essential for a well-functioning health care system, and it thus essential for leaders to have knowledge and competencies with regard to handling topics such as addressing psychosocial risk factors, stress- and lack of well-being among employees securing well-being and a good working environment for the leaders themselves. Matterhorn is a research- and leader training project focused on strengthening the psychological working environment, conducted in collaboration between Crown Prince Frederik Center for Public Leadership, the Department of Psychology at Aarhus University, and the Central Denmark Region.

We are at a point in time where it is difficult to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of public employees, especially in the health care sector. Many employees experience large workloads and a challenging work environment, which can result in stress and burnout. Research suggests that a good psychosocial working environment can be a "stay factor" that can help retain employees in the workplace. Studies have also found that leadership plays a role in employee well-being. Knowledge and a repertoire of actions are thus essential for leaders to handle issues regarding the psychosocial working environment. However, research suggests that many managers feel they lack the confidence and skills to address such issues. In addition, there is a lack of systematic research knowledge on relevant leadership behaviours, and research is needed on the impact of training managers in leadership of employee well-being and the psychosocial working environment.

Objective and research method

Based on existing studies, the main objective of this research project is to evaluate whether training managers in knowledge and skills related to well-being and the psychosocial working environment has an effect on managers' confidence, competencies and employees' mental health and sickness absence as well as the well-being of managers themselves.

Through a randomized, controlled waitlist intervention study, the project will evaluate the effects of providing systematic leadership training to health managers with staff responsibilities. The content of the training will be informed by the existing scientific literature, a pilot test of the project, and a series of qualitative interviews as well as a questionnaire conducted in 2022 among all managers with staff responsibilities in the Region of Central Denmark. The project will involve 200 managers who will be randomized to receive the training in 2023 or in 2024. The training is group-based and consists of five modules with 20 participants in each group with to two instructors, as well as training sessions in smaller groups between each module.

Both quantitative and qualitative methods are used to evaluate the impact of the training, both at the managerial and employee level. Participating managers will be followed with interviews and questionnaires. The managers' employees will primarily be followed with questionnaires only. The project also evaluates potential organizational barriers or facilitators of the possibility of implementing the training in the daily work of the managers.

Additional information

The project is led by Vita Ligaya Dalgaard from the Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences and Lena Uldall from the Central Denmark Region. Christian Bøtcher Jacobsen is the professor in charge of the project.