Continual managerial changes and collegial leadership are major challenges for rehabilitation at LU according to Anne Link, head of the Occupational Health Service.
In spring 2016, changes to the Work Environment Act increased pressure on employers to regulate stress, overwork and workplace bullying. Responsibility for the rehabilitation process always lies with the manager. Anne Link believes that rehabilitation often goes well at LU, but that there are ingrained cultural problems.
“In the academic world, people don’t want to control their employees, and that is often what needs to be done, especially when an employee has reached a limit and can’t take any more. We often encourage managers to take control more clearly in cases of rehabilitation.”
In order to comply with the new legislation, LU, through its Occupational Health Service and Human Resources, has produced templates for how to ensure systematic management of the work environment, including in cases of rehabilitation.
“There are good, clear tools online that managers can use, including a timeline to follow in case of sick leave. I think competence on this has increased since LU formally described its internal rehab process.”
Both the employee organisations and the Occupational Health Service consider it important for managers to get more support from human resources coordinators, who have greater experience of rehabilitation. Anne Link also emphasises that a crucial factor is how many employees a manager is responsible for. Ten to fifteen is ideal, but at LU there are managers who are responsible for up to one hundred employees. In that case, tasks need to be delegated, even if the responsibility always lies with the top manager.
“The managers must be in close contact in order to be proactive. Working preventively is best, discovering early signs of stress and using the compassionate appraisal model, for example.”
There is a voluntary course for managers on rehabilitation. But Anne Link also thinks the heads of department have so many issues on their desks that rehabilitation is not one they want to get into until sick leave is a reality.
“We need to get better at reaching out and training managers, but it is difficult even to find out who all the LU managers are; within the Faculty of Medicine alone, there are over 100 research teams, each with its own manager …”
Facts – Occupational Health Service at LU:
The Occupational Health Service (FHV) is an independent expert resource that conducts a medical appraisal of a person’s capacity to work in cases of work-related problems. FHV is to work to prevent and remove health risks in workplaces and to have expertise in identifying and describing the connections between the work environment, organisation, productivity and health. FHV has a duty of confidentiality and is not allowed to disclose what employees say in their consultations. If both the employer and the employee want support from FHV, they will each have their own representative at rehabilitation meetings.