How to incorporate work ability management into your company’s daily life

The best way to put the strategic work ability management system to practice is to be systematic and goal-oriented. Operate based on your company’s plan, but take into account any need for change. Work ability management is an integral part of your company’s management.

Act systematically and effectively

Systematic and impactful work ability management requires that structures, resources and know-how are in order. In this case, structures mean incorporating the work ability management perspective in the various personnel management processes and practices. It is also important to actively communicate on work ability management in your company and to engage in continuous dialogue with different personnel groups.

Take the following viewpoints into account in work ability management:

  1. How can you build a workplace culture that supports work ability?
  2. How can you develop and maintain the competence required in work ability management?
  3. What measures are needed to support work ability?
  1. A workplace culture that supports work ability is characterised by trust and psychological safety, as well as the experience that the employee’s interests are incorporated into work ability management (goodwill). This also means a workplace atmosphere that values and accepts employees with partial work ability.

    In practical terms, this means leading by example, acting according to your company’s values and how you take stakeholders into account. When your company’s workplace culture is built on trust, employees do not need to be afraid of risking their jobs or career development by voicing their need for work ability support. They can also rely on you to address the work ability support needs and to respect the employees’ privacy when discussing them. A workplace culture that supports work ability allows employees to feel that they can take part in planning and that their participation is supported.

    You can use our survey tools to help you. Read more about the survey tools.

  2. Work ability management requires competence that only develops through effort. That is why you should, together,

    • define what work ability management competence you need
    • assess what competence you have and what the development needs are
    • plan and offer the opportunity to develop competence based on the work ability management role and needs
    • think about what competence you need to support work ability at different stages of the employment relationship’s life cycle. This means including work ability in recruitment, orientation, during the employment relationship and when it ends, and in how you assess and identify work ability risks at different stages and what the related measures are
    • plan and decide how you will monitor participation in training and the development of competence, and collect feedback from the participants

    You can find help for developing work ability management competence from Ilmarinen’s Work Ability Hub material, online training and a survey for assessing supervisors’ work ability management competence.

  3. A key aspect of work ability management is identifying workload factors and work ability risks and assessing them at all stages of the employment relationship. In addition to the workload factors, it is important to identify the work’s resource factors and discuss them at the workplace. Workload factors and resource factors can be assessed based on the table below. How should work ability and its management be considered when recruiting a new employee? Does your company have strenuous jobs that people rarely continue in until the old-age pension age, and would it be possible to avoid the work ability risk related to them through career planning? How do supervisors observe changes in employees’ work ability as part of their immediate leadership? And how do you take work ability issues into account in change situations?

    Incorporate the issues in the description below in work ability management at the different stages of the employment relationship.

Incorporate work ability management in different stages of the employment relationship

  1. Recruitment


    • Training
    • Work experience, skills and characteristics
    • Functional capacity and work ability
    • Life situation
    • Motivation and preferences
    • Do expectations of the work meet reality?
    • How do they take care of themselves, how do they recover?


    • Content of the work
    • Location
    • Working hours
    • Employer image
    • Operating culture (flexibility, inclusivity, values)
    • Work environment
    • Occupational safety
  2. Orientation


    • Preparation for work
    • Socialisation of the organisational culture
    • Orientation and guidance into work tasks
    • Capabilities and suitability for work (trial period)
    • Ergonomics
    • Occupational safety
    • What should you do if the employee has challenges with work ability or the work community?
    • Occupational health services


    • Workload and resource factors
      • Physical, cognitive, psychological and social
  3. Employment relationship


    • Work performance
    • Developing and ensuring competence
    • Change in work and workload factors
    • Suitability and meaningfulness of the job
    • Life situation, life events
    • Taking care of work ability
    • Changes in tasks/organisational changes
    • Ergonomics
    • Planning the return to work and orientation after a long absence


    • Short- and long-term accommodation in the work
    • Events
    • Falling ill
    • Occupational health collaboration
  4. End of employment


    • Lay-off
    • Termination
    • Disability
    • Old-age pension

Many companies have developed good practices for managing occupational safety. You can use these as a model for work ability management.

Work ability management includes

  • promoting the work ability of employees with early support
  • supporting employees when their work ability weakens together with occupational health services