Maximising the benefits of preventive healthcare in an organisation isn’t just down to the company doctor or nurse or the human resources department or for that matter, the line manager.
To get maximum value, and do everything possible to keep staff well and at work, it is a team effort.
But who does what? What are the responsibilities of the health team, the line manager and the HR function and holistically the organisation?
Here are some of the key issues which should be considered by every organisation seeking preventive healthcare advice, regardless of their size, sector or workforce.
With the objective of keeping staff at or getting staff back to work, it is vital to understand what systems, training and information needs to be in place. The following checklists will evaluate whether you are doing everything you can to maximise the benefits to be derived from your occupational health service.
Has your organisation trained line managers and supervisors in:
- Active listening and empathy skills?
- Time management and prioritisation?
- Organisational procedures and approaches?
There are a significant number of other key skills which need to be in place before an organisation can make the most of its preventive healthcare strategy. Look at these carefully.
Your line managers and supervisors need to be equipped to:
- Be aware of the pressures each of their team faces
- Pick up and respond to team members’ reactions to issues
- Consider competence/capability/capacity issues
- Communicate effectively
- Manage change effectively and sympathetically
- Be aware of Employment Law and other legislation including the Equalities Act
- Follow organisational procedures.
The HR team need to:
- Enforce organisational procedures
- Provide guidance to line managers and supervisors on employment law and appropriate courses of action
- Encourage interaction with the occupational health team
- Facilitate case resolution with the occupational health team.
And the occupational team will:
- Commit to working in partnership with the organisation
- Provide clear, comprehensible advice – which, remember, can only be as good as the management information received!
- Be clear that the goal is return to work and/or rehabilitation
- Generate advice and guidance aimed at meeting the needs of the individual and the organisation
- Support line managers and the HR function to resolve conflict situations
- Involve a range of appropriate specialists in difficult cases to create workable solutions.
But there are some issues that should be on everyone’s checklist.
Organisations, line managers, supervisors, HR and the occupational health team all share responsibility to:
- Focus on managing attendance, not sickness
- Establish the facts
- Remain objective about causation
- Avoid judgemental opinions
- Confront, not condone, workplace issues
- Have courage to seek help
- Act upon advice promptly.
Dr William A Freeland is medical director, Medical Services, International SOS/Abermed