Protecting the workforce of the future
Mental health problems and concern about coping at work are on the increase among young workers. The well-being of the employees of StaffPoint, a staff rental firm, is supported at all stages of their employment relationship.
Burnout and mental health disorders are challenging topics affecting the health and well-being of young people.
The Youth Barometer 2019 reveals that one out of three young people are worried about coping at work in the future. At the same time, mental health problems explain most of the sickness absences among 20–29-year-olds, and they are the most frequent cause of occupational disability pensions.
It is obvious that the need to support young people’s work capacity and the importance of preventive health services grows. There is also a fear that people who do precarious work, such as rental workers, will not have access to these services.
Tiina Forsbom is aware of these challenges. She is the personnel manager of StaffPoint, a staff rental firm. That is why Staffpoint has its own work capacity team amd well-defined processes for supporting employees’ well-being.
The employees’ well-being is given special attention
The work contract signed with StaffPoint may well be a young person’s very first one.
A large proportion of the enterprise’s employees get a job in the travel and restaurant sectors, and that is why the Covid-19 pandemic has also been hard on StaffPoint. In a normal year the enterprise pays salaries to 12,000 – 13,000 people, but last year there were only about 9,600 people on its payroll. In November there were 5,600 active employees, of whom 1600 were 20–30 years old, says Forsbom.
– When young people are entering work life, they learn the rules of the game and behavioural norms. We play a significant role in all of that.
Forsbom says that supporting the well-being of its employees is an important part of StaffPoint’s responsibilities.
When negotiating with the client enterprise, we chart carefully what skills the recruited person needs. We also investigate the risks in the work.
So already in the recruitment stage we can hire a person who has the potential to succeed in the job. For instance, we don’t hire a person for shiftwork who does not have the physical and mental capacity to cope with loading work. StaffPoint stays alongside a young person when their work starts.
– Well-functioning personnel policy is important especially when young people are in question.
This covers detailed work guidance, good leadership, openness, and feedback given at the right time. Forsbom believes that when problems, such as inappropriate behaviour, are tackled immediately, the young person has a chance to remedy the situation and move forward.
Well-timed support brings significant savings
The job satisfaction of StaffPoint’s employees is charted at regular intervals. At the beginning, the employees are contacted more often and also the client enterprises are interviewed. In time, the contacts decrease, but Staffpoint’s work capacity team still looks after the employees actively in the background.
The team includes work capacity coordinators and medical specialists. One of their tools is a software system that follows up sickness absences. If an employee has three consecutive sickness days, or their total number exceeds five, the matter is looked into by the team. If the diagnosis points to a mental health problem or a musculoskeletal disorder, the employee is contacted already after a single sick leave.
Forsbom gives an example. The work capacity coordinator is alerted when sickness absences accumulate for a person working in the hotel and restaurant sector. On the phone the young employee complains of sleeping difficulties, and night shifts worsen the problem. With the employee’s permission, the client enterprise is contacted and asked about an alternative for shiftwork. A different work task is found for the employee, and the sick leaves are reduced.
– The need for this kind of assistance has come up several times. If the client has not found some other work for the person, we have looked for more suitable work times from another client, or even from a different line of work.
Forsbom explains that individual follow-up and action plans have reduced sickness absences as well as accident insurance costs significantly. Another explanation is that work accidents are reviewed with an occupational health nurse, and the employees quickly get the right kind of care.
If a young person’s work capacity is lowered, the work capacity coordinators together with the specialists of Spring House coaching firm (which is a part of StaffPoint) draw up a plan to help the young person back to work.
The work of rental workers is loading and requires special attention
Motivation and experiences of success are the basis of well-being at work. A staff rental firm has an inherent advantage in this respect. Enough work is available in different busines sectors, and often the employees can try out different work and learn new things. Versatile experiences help build a broader knowhow for the future.
Nevertheless, rental work also involves certain challenges that tend to stay. Of all StaffPoint employees, 19% study alongside working. Most of the students are in the age range of 20–30 years. Working while studying can be quite tough.
The lack of a work community may also be a loading factor in rental work.
On the other hand, rental work in itself is flexible: a person can always choose whether or not to accept an offered job. According to Forsbom, this is the main reason why students want to work at StaffPoint, and it also increases their motivation and commitment to the work. Although precarious work may seem insecure and stressing, it isn’t necessarily so.
– A few years ago we had a campaign where we offered young people permanent work based on a fixed number of work hours. Out of 200 people only a few wanted such a job. Young people appreciate flexibility.
The lack of a work community may also be a loading factor in rental work. StaffPoint hopes that its employees are treated in the same way as the employees of the client enterprises. This may nevertheless be challenging especially in the travel and restaurant sectors and in retail trade, where some work shifts are often done in different work sites. Working alone may be stressing for any person, while the support of a work community is good for everybody at some stage.
– Especially when working alone, it is important to have familiar and safe work routines, and we, in our role as employer, make sure of this. We have experience in managing people’s work capacity, whenever there is a need for it.
And StaffPoint’s work capacity team does not have to monitor for possible challenges from a distance. The client enterprises serve as its eyes and ears on the field.
– Cooperation with the client enterprises is vital. We join forces to support our employees, says Tiina Forsbom.