Visibility and social recognition as psychosocial work environment factors among cleaners in a multi-ethnic workplace intervention

Tidsskriftartikel - 2013


[Open access] This article focuses on the psychosocial work environment of immigrant cleaners at a Danish workplace. Today, many cleaners working in Danish cleaning jobs are women from the established immigrant communities, but also labour migrants from the newer EU member states have found their way to the cleaning industry. Studies have drawn attention to immigrants' low position in the cleaning industry and their increased risk of work injuries. This article is based on a case study of an intervention called "Make a Difference" designed to improve the work environment among cleaners at a multi-ethnic workplace. We used semi-structured interviews, photo logs, observation and participation to investigate how the cleaners experienced their work environment. The cleaners reported an overload of heavy work, related to the concept of a classroom's "readiness for cleaning", and they expressed strained social relations and communication in addition to a lack of social recognition and invisibility at the workplace, a school. We analysed these psychosocial work environmental problems by investigating the different forms of social relationships and communication within the group of cleaners, and between the cleaners and the teachers and pupils at the school. Moreover, we discussed why the intervention, based on training of language and cleaning skills and social interaction, only partially improved the cleaners' psychosocial work environment problems. In this article, we argue that social divisions based on ethnicity between the new and the established group of cleaners, combined with their marginal position and poor work organisation at the school, reinforced the cleaners' experiences of psychosocial work environment problems. This article suggests that increased effort towards social inclusion at work and improved work organisation, especially for the new labour migrants from newer EU-countries, should be considered. (This article belongs to the Special Issue Migrant Health)


Hviid K, Smith LH, Frydendall KB, Flyvholm M. Visibility and social recognition as psychosocial work environment factors among cleaners in a multi-ethnic workplace intervention. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2013;10(1):85-106.
doi: 10.3390/ijerph10010085

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