Sustaining employment in a social firm: Use of the Work Environment Impact Scale v2.0 to explore views of employees with psychiatric disabilities

Anne Williams, Ellie Fossey, Carol Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence suggests that people with psychiatric disabilities find it difficult to get and keep jobs, with workplace characteristics contributing to difficulties staying in employment. This qualitative study aimed to understand the views of employees with a psychiatric disability about working in an Australian social firm designed to provide an inclusive and supportive work environment. Method: Seven participants who had sustained jobs for 6 months or longer in the social firm, a contract cleaning business, were interviewed using the Work Environment Impact Scale (Version 2.0). Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed and analysed inductively using thematic and narrative analysis. Findings: Participants' views of the work environment included that the regular structure and achievable tasks, the supportive and cooperative team and the benefits of the job made working in the social firm enjoyable and the right job for now. The findings suggest that participants' decisions to stay in their jobs were influenced by the social firm environment, which supported their wellbeing, and by their individual illness and occupational narratives. Conclusion: The WEISv2.0 was effective in gaining participants' views on wide-ranging features of their workplaces. Further research is recommended to expand the evidence base concerning workplace features that support employees with psychiatric disabilities to sustain their jobs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-539
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Employment
  • Model of human occupation
  • Psychiatric disability

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