With OHM there are only winners
In October 2022 I was interviewed on the topic of Occupational Health Management for the magazine "Lachner" published by the Crafts and Trades Association in Lachen-Altendorf, Switzerland. This is an English translation of that article, with Original Text in German by Ursula Vogt. Original illustration by Eva Gannert
Creating an optimal working environment for employers and employees with Occupational Health Management (OHM). A double win-win situation.
What does OHM mean?
OHM means "Occupational Health Management " and it is about creating health-promoting working conditions with a view to organizational processes and resources while using existing modern management tools. This serves to implement sensible measures so that the company can develop in a positive direction. In this context, one speaks of Workplace Health Promotion (WHP), which includes all measures taken by employers, employees and society to promote physical and mental health and well-being in the workplace. A successful OHM involves the management team and the employees and is most successful when measures are discussed and developed together and the know-how of the individual employees is incorporated.
Who are you?
I come from Sweden, have lived in Lachen for four years and have been working as a consultant in OHM for 3.5 years. In addition to my professional experience in OHM, I am studying OHM at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts until the end of thhis year. Before that, I worked as a teacher, analyst and project manager with a focus on process- and resource optimization.
How did you come to be a OHM consultant?
In 2012 I experienced burnout and at the same time was confronted with a health condition. This has given me a unique perspective on workplace health and well-being. This, in combination with the motivation to help others and paired with my skills in process and resource optimization, led me to become an OHM consultant and to found the company PRO Services GmbH.
When work processes are designed correctly and the available resources meet the needs, they supports the maintenance of the health of all employees. This in turn benefits the company, since employees then perform good quality work and face challenges in a positive way.
What is your goal?
Companies want to offer good services and/or high-quality products. In order to achieve this, they need healthy, committed employees. If the employees are not doing well, the quality and quantity of their work may be lower and errors and accidents are more likely to occur. My goal is it to use my expertise to support companies in developing effective, and at the same time health-promoting, work processes in order to ensure corporate success and competitiveness on the market.
How does the employer recognize that there is a OHM-related issue in the organization?
If, for example, employees are often absent due to illness, there is a high turnover of employees, productivity and quality decrease or the service is no longer optimally guaranteed. Then you have indicators that a company has a OHM-related problem.
"Those affected are involved in the process"
What is the process for identifying and solving problems?
Once the problem is identified, goals must be set, the project planned, and the necessary resources allocated. The better the project is planned, the more successful the interventions will be. Employees should be made aware of the effects health has on themselves, their work and the success of the company. This is usually done through talks and workshops.
The next step is to find out what kind of health challenges the employees experience by considering both the work tasks and the social environment and what, if any, of the organisational issues cause them.
In order to design suitable interventions those affected are involved in the process. Sometimes this is best done at the team level, other times all levels of the organization need to be involved, e.g. through a board, to achieve process and policy changes. Sometimes it makes sense to also involve occupational health services / the company dorctor, psychologist and other available experts in this process in order to benefit from their expertise and experience.
The agreed interventions are then implemented. A certain time after the implementation of the measures, the success and effectiveness of the interventions are evaluated. Were the project goals achieved, or are there need for adjustments? What went well and should be retained for the future?
What kind of stresses and strains are there?
There are many sources of stresses and strains within and outside the workplace that affect health. Overload at work is often due to time pressure or a lot of overtime, a high degree of personal responsibility, unclear expectations, a lack of autonomy and freedom of choice, a bad working atmosphere, a lack of support from colleagues and superiors, job insecurity and shift work are some examples.