Successful management of working ability in the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland’s expert organisation

VTT´s Wellbeing Manager Peppi Härme and HR Director Kirsi Nuotto tell us about the work ability management culture at VTT and the utilisation of digital tools in supporting HR management and leadership.

What does the work ability of your employees mean to your company and how is it reflected in everyday life? 

The work ability of VTT employees is extremely important to us, and the overall well-being of the employees is included in VTT’s strategy. We, as an organisation, can only prosper when our employees are feeling well. This is also directly reflected in our customer work – when the employees are feeling well, the customer work is also successful.

Occupational well-being is present in many ways in everyday life. We tell about the services we offer, measure our success and use the practical tools to support well-being. Good leadership and early support actions provide support to occupational well-being and help in maintaining work ability.

How and in what ways do you manage the work ability at VTT? Could you please tell us what the management of working ability means at your company?

The annual plan for occupational well-being and its goals are included in the strategy. The annual plan is guided by clearly defined focal points for well-being: leadership (supervisory work and self-management), health (physical and mental) and safety (physical and psychological).

We closely cooperate with the occupational health care and pension insurance instances as well as other partners providing occupational health services. Our well-being team coordinates, implements and monitors occupational well-being actions and their results actively.

At VTT, supervisors act as practical work ability managers as well as receive regular training and personal sparring on the topic. Early interventions and bringing up topics are also embedded in our company’s strategy.

How does the support of the occupational health partner show at VTT in terms of VTT’s work ability management? 

The support from the occupational health partner is one of our work ability management’s cornerstones. We set common goals and prepare plans to implement them. We carry out several practical implementations together, such as supervisor coaching and other training related to the improvement of the work ability. We monitor the progress of the actions in regular meetings and use our partner’s work ability management tools in multiple different ways.

Which digital tools of Mehiläisen are you using and why have you chosen these tools to be used in your company? 

VTT is using CorporateMehiläinen, Superior’s Compass and WorkAbilityCompass, different digital coaching, OmaMehiläinen Digital Clinic, Lifeclass video library, Concern chat and SuperiorChat. CorporateMehiläinen is an important work ability management tool for our HR operations and supervisors. With Digital Clinic, our employees can access occupational health services easily and quickly. Digital coaching programmes proactively support work ability and the chats offer a rapid response to acute questions.

Our long-term efforts for mental well-being are among the focal points of our management of working ability. Concern chat is a low-threshold tool for improving mental well-being. This topic is especially current for us, since we have just been awarded the Hyvän mielen työpaikka (“Workplace with a Good Feeling”) designation by Mieli ry for the work we have done.

What are the benefits offered by Mehiläinen’s digital tools in the management of working ability or from the perspective of the management or supervisors? 

The Compass tools offer tools that are shared by us and our occupational health partner. It is easier and quicker to monitor absences and work ability. Reminders based on alarm limits help in addressing early signals. It is also an efficient, powerful and secure communication tool between the supervisors and the occupational health partner.

How is the COVID-19 pandemic and remote working affecting the work ability of your personnel and the leadership? 

The same needs are addressed when leading the employees remotely or in the office, but the significance of communication and regular contacts is emphasised when leading remotely. At VTT, especially the issues concerning ergonomics have arisen, and we have offered our employees a remote working package that supports them when working at the home office. We also provide our personnel with a monthly-updated well-being package, in which we introduce current well-being services. In October, we will launch an ergonomics campaign that supports mental and physical well-being.

How is it possible to monitor and support remote team’s coping and ability to work? 

Supervisory communication and active contacts play a key role, and we have emphasised their significance during the remote working period to our supervisors. We monitor and support the coping of VTT employees together with the occupational health care. We actively inform about the well-being services and offer versatile services and tools for the management of own well-being. They include, for example, the digital coaching programmes and lectures about coping offered by the occupational health partner. During the remote working period, the role of the digital services has also been emphasized at VTT.

Has the significance of Mehiläinen’s digital services and monitoring tools been emphasised during the remote working period? 

Definitely. We had already been using Digital Clinic before, but we have increased and diversified the use during the remote working period. Digital Clinic offers quick help and support and provides help at an early stage. It is an equal service channel in terms of the availability and it also lowers the threshold for establishing contact.

What are your tips and successes concerning the efficient management and monitoring of working ability in the expert organisation? 

Strategic goals, management’s commitment and resource allocation are key factors in the efficient management of working ability. Supervisory support and coaching as well as the availability of tools facilitate the management of working ability in practice. Functional and versatile cooperation with other operators, such as the occupational health partner, play an important role in the success.

During the follow-up, we have noticed that diversity is important. Supervisors can monitor the work ability with the Compass tool’s alarm limits. Our well-being team together with the occupational health care monitors the implementation of the goals using different indicators and, in their own weekly meetings, they focus on monitoring and managing of the ongoing projects. In strategic and operative steering groups, we monitor the overall situation on a broader scale, for example, the use of the tools and the volume of the use.