Person som balanserar på en trädstam på en stig i en skog.

A new study shows that decisions made for the organization's benefit, but that do not take into account the employees' work-life balance, can have the opposite effect. Photo: Jon Flobrant/Unsplash.

The employee's perspective needs to be emphasized in the Swedish Armed Forces' organisational decisions

In an article published in the Scandinavian Journal of Military Studies, researchers at the Swedish Defence University investigate how the Swedish Armed Forces' decision to reorganise operations affects employees and their families. The results show, among other things, that the lack of consideration for work-life balance can make the organization more vulnerable and lead employees to choose to leave the Swedish Armed Forces.

The Swedish Armed Forces' focus on capability development, the impending NATO membership, and the requirements to respond swiftly to security threats in Sweden's vicinity result in rapid decisions regarding resource allocation and reorganizations.

"The organizational changes affect both employees and their families, requiring a more comprehensive adaptation than can be inferred from the various decisions made. In this study, we explore how work-life balance is addressed in budget proposals and relocation decisions made by the Swedish Armed Forces," explains Aida Alvinius, Associate Professor and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Leadership and Management at the Swedish Defence University.

Work-life balance

The study shows, among other things, that decisions made to reduce the organization's vulnerability can have the opposite effect if the employee perspective is not considered.

"The problem is that decisions made in the organization's best interest do not take into account employees' work-life balance. The effects of organizational changes at the individual level remain invisible," says Aida Alvinius.

The lack of consideration for the consequences of decisions for employees can be counterproductive to the goal of reducing the organization's vulnerability, she argues.

"The effects of these types of decisions can cause conflicts between work and personal life, leading employees to choose other employers. It also reduces the Swedish Armed Forces' opportunities to recruit new personnel."

Increased understanding of decision effects

Aida Alvinius hopes that the study's results can contribute to an increased awareness of the importance of thinking holistically and integrating the perspectives of employees in decisions related to reorganizations.

"If this is not done, it can have the opposite effect. Simply increasing awareness of how decisions affect military families and working on strategies to gain acceptance for this can be enough. Increased awareness can also lead to the development of support programs for military families. By emphasizing the importance of work-life balance, the decision-making process can become healthier, making the organization more attractive while promoting employee well-being," she says.

The study was conducted using discourse analysis of documents related to budget applications over a five-year period (2020–2024) and a relocation decision from 2017.


Aida Alvinius, Sofia Nilsson, Camilla Sjölén and Gerry Larsson: Organizational Changes and their Presumptive Effect on the Military Families, Scandinavian Journal of Military Studies (2023).

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