Mellemlederes oplevelse af sygefraværstiltag – mellem tillid og kontrol

Mikkel Solgaard Bojsen-Møller

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


This thesis investigates how managers of childcare, primary school and healthcare, in a Municipality with high sickness absence (1) perceive governance initiatives and (2) can contribute to reduce sickness absence. The findings show that managers, to a high degree, shares the values about governance initiatives and perceive these as supporting for their work. This applies to both trust-based initiatives (e.g. job-satisfaction surveys) and control-based initiatives (e.g. guidelines and sickness absence statistics). The managers generally experience that they are supported by transformational and transactional leadership, exemplified by the perception of these initiatives as a framework whereby managers can apply different measures according to the employee’s needs – such as for vulnerable employees with social problems and low work ethics. The managers also perceive that they have options to act, which is a key feature among managers with strong leader identity. A few managers did not perceive to be supported by the governance initiatives which led me to identify 11 points of adjustments of the initiatives in a way that allows complementary disciplinary actions and motivating effects, thus demonstrating how analysis of managers’ perceptions can contribute to further actions to reduce sickness absence. The notably decrease in sickness absences in 2017 provides support to the managers perceptions of being supported and that initiatives and leadership have contributed to the results. The concurrent rise in job-satisfaction and drop in dismissals specifically support the managers perception of beeing supported on transformational and transactional leadership. These results support research literature about Public Service Motivation, that reveals that sickness absence is a behavioural variable to intrinsic motivation which again depends on (a) value-congruence on the initiatives and (b) on the employee’s perception of the initiatives allowing them to feel autonomous, competent and related. However if initiatives are perceived to be controlling, then any disciplinary effect aimed to reduce sickness absence will also carry a risk of crowding out intrinsic motivation, leaving the employees less willing to invest energy in their work. My key findings were that managers generally perceive governance initiatives as supporting and based on the decrease in sickness absence and dismissals and increase in job-satisfaction, I conclude that the initiatives may have a disciplinary effect but that transformational and transactional leadership have provided a meaningful context for the employees to feel autonomous, competent and related. These findings provides support to the theory-based assumption that employees will perceive the initiatives and leadership as supporting for their work and thereby experience crowding in processes, increase in intrinsic motivation, decrease in sickness absence and – in theory – an increase in performance.

EducationsMaster of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages52