Prof Lode Godderis kicks off an interesting Faculty Club event about “Workability 2.0”. We have to work longer, and “perceived health” is the strongest indicator if people will effectively work until pension age, or not. So this is an important topic to look into.
Finnish keynote speaker Prof Juhani Ilmarinen, takes us on a quick history trip, back to the roots of “workability”, the Eighties. Ilmarinen demonstrates the “house of workability“, which is built on the foundation of “Health”. If that’s not solid, the floors on top of it will be unstable too.
These upper floors are “Competences”, “Values / attitude / motivation”, and “Leadership”.
In order to have a strong house, employer and employees need to work together. On top of that, there are major external circumstances, like “Family”, etc. A lot of recent organisational trends have had negative impact on the stability of the house: downsizing, outsourcing, M&A, etc. often lead to pressure, but also to dissatisfaction, distrust, and sickness, etc.
Within the EU, age groups like the 55 – 64 yrs old workers, will grow by +15% in the next years, and other age groups like 25 – 39 yrs old workers, will decrease by more than -15%.
A Workability Index (WAI) has been developed based on parameters like “Work ability in relation to the demands of the job”, “Number of current diseases diagnosed by physician”, “Sick leave during the past year”, “Own prognosis of work ability two years from now”, etc. In countries like Finland, the WAI develops in a positive way, but still: in the last years of workers’ career, they experience a sharp decline in terms of WAI.”
Research shows that “Good work” (good leadership, support, etc.), “Good Health” (lifestyle, hobbies, etc.), “Positive attitude” (trust, commitment, etc.), and “Good Competences” (lifelong learning, etc.) strengthen each other.
The other way round, if e.g. the “Health” dimension of a worker decreases due to a chronic disease, then the other three dimensions become under pressure, and the “4th Floor” (leadership, organisational support) must come up with additional efforts to keep the system in balance. And it’s in the interest of employers to do this, because Productivity and the WAI are strongly intertwined.
Organisations need to monitor early indicators of risks with regards to work disability, this allows to take preventive actions, and this creates the opportunity to initiate discussions about ageing and work. Every worker has this “house”, and every worker needs to take the time to look at this house & assess its state, from time to time.
A Finnish case is discussed: the “Good Work, Longer Career” programme. A specific tool has been developed for companies, called “Company Radar“, allowing them to figure out which actions / factors in their organisation are strong or effective, and which aren’t. In the example, an organisation could figure out that the building block “supervisors” was a weak element in the system. This type of tool allows the organisation to prioritize the actions that need to be taken, e.g. working on a feedback culture, etc. A specific example (of the Nakilla Group) shows that with a small investment (of 860 euro per capita), it was possible to increase Workability substantially.
Finally, seven more tips to balance your work & life :
Conclusion: “I can” is key in this field, workers need to feel safe in an environment of trust, etc, and they need to feel that they have an impact on all dimensions of their professional life, personal lifestyle, etc.
Earlier reading on this :