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News Story:

Good workplace practices


The link between good workplace practices and small enterprise performance

The ILO brought together international experts, researchers and field practitioners to explore the impact of improvements in workplace practices in small and medium enterprises on SME performance in developing and transition economies.

Research and project presentations shared at the ILO International Research Conference strengthened the contention that safety and health, working conditions and skills development can and do influence the performance of small and medium enterprises (SME).

Participants at the conference, which took place at ILO headquarters in Geneva between 9 10 May, left convinced that there can be a win-win scenario within SMEs, where decent, safe and healthy working conditions for workers can be promoted alongside productivity growth.

However, they recognized the need for further research to understand the exact nature of the inter-relationship, including exploring questions of causality and how external conditions influence this relationship. ILO Deputy Director-General, Sandra Polaski, opened the conference, stressing the important role of private enterprise and the strong potential of SMEs, as a principal source of economic growth, wealth and much needed jobs globally. Presentations and discussions focused on research findings and interventions that provide guidance on how this potential can be realised and translated into social and economic progress for workers and communities. They also focused on how to develop better-informed interventions, policies and research between now and 2015.

The conference was attended by researchers from institutions such as the World Bank, London School of Economics and Middlesex University. Independent experts in areas such as skills development also took part, as well as others working with SMEs in the field.

It is hoped that the conference will be a springboard for interested researchers, institutions and practitioners to network and use their expertise and energy to advance knowledge and contribute to progress in this important area.