The skill sets required from employees are increasing due to the transformation in working life. – It targets workers of all ages. This is why it is important to identify potential workplace risks in a timely manner, so that everyone remains able to work, says Elina Fogelholm, Director (Major Accounts) at Varma.
This article is an advertorial published at Nordic Business Report Magazine.
– When observing the transformation of working life from the competitiveness perspective of companies, the risk factors for work capacity are different today than they were before. If we previously thought that the challenges of employees’ work capacity are mainly physical, it seems as though they are increasingly more often psychological challenges, even in the field of industrial and physical work, Fogelholm says.
According to Fogelholm, this is due to the increasing range of expectations that employees face as working life changes. These expectations place employees under increased amounts of pressure to maintain their skills. – The increasing amount of automation has led to a reduction in routine work tasks, which in turn has caused a growing demand for knowledge. The remaining jobs require more innovative skills and thinking abilities, which cause more psychological strain for workers. The positive side, of course, is that with this change, many find that the content of the work itself becomes more and more interesting and motivating.
Varma’s customer base includes such a comprehensive portion of Finnish companies, so the mutual pension insurance company has an extremely broad view of Finnish working life. What is worrying right now is the upward trend in the number of applications for disability pension claims from young workers due to mental health-related causes. – Older and more experienced employees seem to have more life experience, which helps them handle pressure better and put things into the right perspective.
Preventing a negative spiral by means of proactive measures
It is Varma’s core social responsibility to work with companies to find new ways of supporting employees and to ensure that everyone remains engaged in the job transition, thus being able to work at full capacity throughout their working life. – According to research, the first signs are notable as early as 7 years before the disability pension claim has been posted. Our target is to identify worrying signs as early as possible, when it is still possible to intervene and the likelihood of preventing negative outcomes is significantly better. It is also a great source of motivation, for me personally, to witness great outcomes and one of the reasons why I came to work at Varma after a long career in the financial sector.
Job opportunities for the partially disabled
Fogelholm also wants to highlight the employment opportunities for partially disabled employees from the perspective of the Finnish national economy, which is suffering from decreasing workforce perspectives. – To be able to produce growth and secure the payment base for pensions, it is becoming increasingly important for us to find ways to enable people with reduced working capacity to be active members of working life.
Fogelholm would like to highlight an industry that has an excellent impact in this area from the perspective of social responsibility. – Labour hire companies play a major role in opening new doors for people with disabilities. When a partially disabled person is able to undertake, for example, a part-time job through a labour hire company, they begin to accumulate valuable work experience. It is also an eye-opener for the employer, since a person with reduced work capacity can indeed carry out high-quality work for which they may even have extensive work experience and skills.
“It is becoming increasingly important for us to find ways to enable people with reduced working capacity to be active members of working life”.
No bulk solutions
Despite the business situation, Varma’s way of helping companies always stems from the specific needs of the company. – Our strength is that we have such a large database of Finnish companies, knowledgeable personnel and, above all, a strong tradition of customer-oriented development. This means that we develop the needs and new ideas together with the customer, and then scale them to a larger customer base. This also increases our understanding of our customers’ business and everyday challenges. We need to understand what the company plans for the future and what it requires from its staff, and how this affects them. If, for example, new responsibilities are being set out for staff to expand their job descriptions, we will be able to better cooperate with the customer to take preventative action. We believe in offering solutions that fit the customer’s specific need – there is no one-size-fits-all solution in work capacity management.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution in work capacity management”
Fogelholm says that Varma is in the process of developing proactive working capacity tools, which are being piloted in cooperation with customers. – We are also investing in research to better identify the effectiveness of the measures we take to reduce work capacity risks. The investment opens up interesting opportunities for cooperation with the academic world.