European Company Survey 2019

Workplace practices unlocking employee potential

Authors: Gijs van Houten & Giovanni Russo

This report is based on the fourth edition of the European Company Survey (ECS), carried out jointly by Eurofound and Cedefop in 2019. It describes a wide range of practices and strategies implemented by European companies in terms of work organisation, human resource management, skills use and skills development, and employee voice. The report shows how these practices are combined and how the resulting ‘bundles of practices’ are associated with two outcomes beneficial to employees and employers: workplace well-being and establishment performance.

The analysis finds that the establishments that are most likely to generate this win–win outcome are those that combine a high degree of worker autonomy, a balanced motivational strategy, a comprehensive training and learning strategy, and high levels of direct employee involvement in decision-making, as well as offering managerial support for these practices. To boost the adoption of employee-oriented practices – particularly in relation to autonomy, skills and employee involvement – managers should be offered appropriate support, as they play a key role in the decision to initiate workplace change. They are also crucial to its success, as they must continuously support the workplace practices implemented.

  • The ECS 2019 demonstrates that companies can design their workplace practices to help generate outcomes that benefit both workers and employers. Businesses can boost performance while improving aspects of workers’ job quality by bundling practices that increase employee autonomy, facilitate employee voice and promote training and learning.
  • Around one fifth of EU workplaces have these beneficial bundles of practices in place. Successful examples can be found across all types of business regardless of country, size, sector, or competitiveness strategy.
  • The most successful firms not only have facilitating practices in place, they also have a supportive management.
  • Training is an important way to achieve positive workplace outcomes. Most workplaces in the EU offer at least some training to at least some workers, but only a few offer comprehensive training and learning opportunities.
  • Businesses with strong workplace social dialogue score better on performance and wellbeing. Workplaces with involving, trusting and influential social dialogue are also more likely to have regular, direct employee participation that makes a difference on the ground.

EUWIN was well represented in the study through the participation of Steven Dhondt as Peer Reviewer, and is mentioned on pages 3, 4 and 141.

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European Workplace Innovation Network (EUWIN)

EUWIN was established by the European Commission in 2013 and is now entirely supported by contributions from an international network of partners co-ordinated by HIVA (University of Leuven). EUWIN also functions as a network partner for the H2020 Beyond4.0 project.

Contact: Workplace Innovation Europe CLG (