Risk assessment using the dialogue method

A tool for managers and the health and safety group: The dialogue method is a good way to address psychosocial working conditions in an open talk between employees and management, e.g. at a staff meeting. You can also use the dialogue method for the first phases of a health and safety risk assessment (APV).

How to use this guide

The guide describes how, as a manager or a member of the health and safety organisation, you can conduct a staff meeting, at which you discuss psychosocial working conditions (or selected parts thereof) together. This is often referred to as the dialogue method. Read below about how, as chair of the meeting, you can prepare and conduct a successful staff meeting, and how the manager and the health and safety group can follow up on the meeting.

Benefits of dialogue at a staff meeting

The dialogue method is a good way to include everyone at the workplace in creating wellbeing and improving psychosocial working conditions at the shop. The method provides a sense of ownership and commitment, because everyone can contribute to finding good solutions. Furthermore, perhaps more aspects and details will arise because everyone can express their opinion.

A positive dialogue

The dialogue method works best if all participants are open, listen, and have a constructive approach. Listen to one another, try to understand each other’s views and acknowledge that there may be different opinions about a matter. Base your discussions on what works well and not (only) on problems. You should, of course, talk about the things that do not work well, but refer to them as challenges which you can do something about together.

Use the staff meeting as part of a health and safety risk assessment

Using the dialogue method, the manager and the health and safety group can complete most of the risk assessment (APV) phases at one staff meeting. You can map the psychosocial working conditions, you can analyse and discuss the outcomes, you can find solutions and prioritise the possible initiatives. On this basis, the management and the health and safety group can draw up an action plan to get to where you all want to go.

Phase 1: Prepare for the staff meeting

  • What do we want to achieve from the meeting? Should the meeting be about psychosocial working conditions in general? Or do we want to focus on a specific part of the general psychosocial working conditions, such as stress, conflict and bullying, or follow-up on an unpleasant incident such as a robbery or a conflict with a customer?
  • How should the meeting be organised? When and where should we meet? Who should participate? How much time do we have for the meeting? Who will be chairing the meeting? Who will take minutes and sum up? How should we invite participants? Verbally, by e-mail, via the notice board, or …?

Phase 2: The dialogue meeting

The following describes two models for a staff meeting on psychosocial working conditions: The thorough model, which allows in-depth discussions, and the quick model, which is good for feeling the pulse of the workplace.

  • The thorough model: Structured dialogue. The plan below describes a dialogue meeting focusing on psychosocial working conditions in general. The meeting is scheduled to last 1-2 hours. If you only focus on a specific part of psychosocial working conditions (e.g. stress or conflict), the meeting can be shorter.
  • The quick model: The horseshoe. The horseshoe can be used to quickly measure the psychosocial working conditions at the shop, or a specific topic such as stress, conflict or communication. The exercise can be carried out in 10-20 minutes.

Phase 3: Implementation and follow-up

After the meeting, management and possibly the health and safety organisation will go through the requests and solutions presented to make a final decision and draw up an action plan for how to get where you want to go.

Finalise the proposals

Management and/or the health and safety group will decide on a final prioritisation to include in the action plan. Review the individual solutions and consider whether they are suitable and sufficient for achieving the desired improvements.

Prioritise solutions and proposals

Review your prioritisations from the meeting. Top priority should be given to any breaches of working environment legislation. You should also give priority to issues affecting many people and with the most severe impacts.

Draw up your final action plan

Once you’ve decided on specific initiatives and measures for your future work, make sure to describe these in your health and safety risk assessment action plan (APV action plan), so that you don’t forget to follow up. What initiatives should we launch? Who will be responsible for what? When will the initiatives be launched? How and when do we follow up? And who should be responsible?

Implement the action plan and follow up

The action plan should state who is responsible for implementing the initiatives you’ve agreed, and when they must have been implemented. Remember to follow up regularly: Is everything proceeding as planned? Are there any unexpected obstacles to be dealt with by management and perhaps the health and safety group?

Last revised at 08. February 2024