Each person is responsible for their own health, and through various lifestyle changes and choices, we can improve our ability to work. Corporate responsibility is currently a strong trend in business, but many seem to forget that this also includes work ability management. Work ability management is the responsibility of employers and is part of responsible business operations and being a responsible employer.
Work ability management is a long-term and planned activity performed by the company’s management and supervisors, which seeks to improve employee wellbeing and ability to work. Employees are an important resource for every employer. Individual employees and companies, as well as Finland Ltd, collectively suffer the damages from inadequate work ability management in the workplace. Moreover, the birth rate in Finland has slowed down and the population is aging. These developments are putting further pressure on work ability management to support employees’ ability to work and to extend their working careers. Work ability management is not voluntary for employers; legislation imposes numerous obligations on employers related to employee work ability management. Unfortunately, many obligations are not sufficiently implemented at workplaces.
An employer is responsible for carrying out a job survey at each workplace and for identifying issues that affect employees’ ability to work. Factors and risks that increase work related strain on employees must be actively reduced, eliminated, and monitored. Employers should use the means available to them for these actions. In addition, employers are obligated to monitor sick leave and plan measures to support employees returning from long-term sick leave. Other changes to employees’ ability to work should also be monitored. If the company does not have its own competence to perform these obligations, the employer must request external assistance. From the point of view of legislation, employer ignorance or incompetence does not justify failing to perform these statutory obligations.
Many employment-related problems that can lead to impairment or loss of an employee’s ability to work are related to leadership. In such cases, leadership is often non-existent or deficient. Some supervisors do not even know that they are supervisors or what responsibilities they have as supervisors. A supervisor’s task is to be actively present in the work of their subordinates and reachable to them. Supervision requires constant monitoring of wellbeing at work and employees’ work ability, addressing grievances and resolving them. Work tasks must be suitable in terms of content and quantity for each employee – underloading, like overloading, requires corrective action. Employees’ competences must also be sufficient for their work tasks, and if necessary, the employer must arrange additional training.
Impairment or loss of an employee’s ability to work are adverse events for a company that in many ways eat away at the company’s results. These have a negative impact on the wellbeing of the entire staff, the achievement of results, as well as on the company’s image as an employer. As a result of incapacity to work events, the employer may have an increased insurance category, costs in the form of employment fund liability component payments, medical expenses of the sick person, and recruitment and training costs of the new person to be recruited. Failure to perform work ability management can even result in a criminal conviction for the employer, which may be personally imposed on the supervisor, the supervisor’s supervisor, the CEO, and even members of the board.
Supervisors play an important role in managing and monitoring the workload of employees. Supervisors need enough time and expertise to identify problem situations. A responsible employer follows the process of early intervention and discussion models in work ability management, and documents discussions and measures clearly. Do your supervisors have these skills, and when was the last time they were trained on these?
Appropriate work ability management is designed for the company’s needs and includes appropriate processes and models developed in collaboration with staff. In today’s world of self-management, remote working, and remote management, it is also worth emphasising each employee’s individual responsibility for their ability to work. The results of work ability management are created through staff wellbeing, and are positively reflected in the staff, customers, shareholders, as well as the results and image of the employer company.
These tips will help your employees work into their sixties!
The author is Fondia Plc’s employment law expert Minna Laurila
Book a free appointment with our lawyers and we will map the legal needs of your business together.