Tapping the workplace productivity potential: the role of social dialogue in promoting innovation in digital economy (own-initiative opinion)

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EESC opinion: Tapping the workplace productivity potential: the role of social dialogue in promoting innovation in digital economy (own-initiative opinion)

Key points


  • Innovation is an important factor of competitiveness, productivity and the growth potential of companies that can also boost the quality of work and creation of employment and improve living standards. Tapping the full potential of innovation requires the involvement and motivation of workers including through social dialogue, and the support of an innovation-friendly political and regulatory environment.
  • Digitalisation and other developments affecting working conditions, the economic situation of workers and working life are challenging existing company structures, management and social dialogue methods. It necessitates new forms of dialogue, provision of information and consultation as well as worker contribution to the management methods. New participative approaches are needed to engage the maximum of human resources in the innovation and development processes.
  • The EESC stresses the importance of understanding the benefits and challenges which will accrue to employees from the adoption of new approaches in workplace culture, in terms of security and quality of employment and working conditions. Genuine support and involvement of employees requires serious and dedicated efforts at all levels.
  • Social dialogue and notably collective bargaining prevail as key tools if they are involved from the outset when introducing new technologies in a spirit of trust between personnel and management. Within their autonomy and without undermining key principles of existing structures the social partners should continue to find new solutions for the social dialogue, notably negotiations, adapted to tackle new challenges in order to deliver balanced solutions.
  • The EESC believes that the probability of innovation is boosted when strong work organisation structures are combined with increased employee participation within a solid legal and contractual framework. With this aim collective representation needs to be increasingly accompanied by a more inclusive, reflective and democratic dialogue in work structures and methods. The importance of training in social dialogue for management to adapt management methods in the new context should equally be taken into account, as well as a business friendly environment.
  • A trusting relationship between employee representation, trade unions and management, in combination with direct employee participation, is associated with higher levels of performance and well-being and created a positive environment for innovative action.
  • National level initiatives to enhance the productivity and well-being of workers at workplace level should be promoted in a wider European context. The EESC welcomes the initiatives and research of Eurofound and the European Workplace Innovation Network and proposes that the EU take action to develop the dialogue between social partners and other stakeholders in the context of participative approaches to promote workplace innovation.