Background: Rapid technological change and increased international competition have changed working life and work organizations. These changes may not be considered when researching employee work ability and well-being.
Aim: This study investigates the impact of organizational practices, work demands and individual factors on work ability, organizational commitment and mental well-being of employees in the metal industry and retail trade.
Method: A follow-up study was conducted to examine these connections among 1389 employees (mean age 42 years at baseline) in 91 organizations. The first survey was conducted in 1998 and was repeated in 2000.
Results: Changes in organizational practices and the demands of work were strongly associated with changes in employee well-being. Work ability, organizational commitment and the mental well-being of employees were increased most if the opportunities for development and influence and the promotion of employee well-being were increased and if the supervisory support and organization of work were improved. Well-being also improved with less uncertainty at work and with decreasing mental and physical work demands. In addition physical exercise and affluence also had favourable effects.
Conclusions: The results confirm that several features of organizational practices are strongly associated with employees' well-being. Organizational development is an important method of improving employees' work ability, commitment and well-being.