Identifying disability risks

Megatrends, such as digitalisation, the transformation of work and climate change – or the pandemic – are changing the economic structure as well as the operating conditions of businesses and organisations. At the same time, they are changing working conditions, working methods, organisation and leadership. Work ability challenges and risks are also changing. It is important to understand how disability risks are changing and how they can be influenced.

We help build a strong foundation

Do you know what kind of work ability your organisation’s work will require in the future?

What are the biggest risks to your employees’ work ability right now?

How can disability risks harm your business?

Take advantage of the existing information

Varma continuously accumulates a wealth of data on the work ability of our client companies’ employees and on the paths that lead to disability. We analyse this data with the help of, for instance, robotics, and we process it so that you, as our client, can draw on this data to prevent disability risks in your organisation. In addition, our research department produces, through studies conducted both independently and with partners, information on work ability to support you.

Read more about Varma's research activities

Survey your company’s disability risks

We have created a new tool to help you more accurately survey your organisation’s disability risks. The earlier and more accurately an understanding of the possible risks is formed, the easier it is to develop operations in an anticipatory way and as effectively as possible. You can use our risk survey tool in Varma Online Service.

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Stay on top of your employees’ situation

As Varma’s client, you have access to our ‘Know the work ability cycle’ surveys, which you can use to regularly examine the factors affecting the work ability of your employees. There are surveys for various purposes and situations: With the Sense survey you can examine the situation, say, on a monthly basis, and you can use the Grip survey to gain more in-depth information, e.g., once a year. You can start using the surveys in our online service.

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Ensure sufficient competence

All employees should have sufficient knowledge of the factors that affect their work ability, such as how to ensure recovery or identify signs of burnout. Supervisors have a special responsibility and duty to ensure that work is healthy and safe and to identify risks that threaten work ability, while the person responsible for the company’s HR matters must, in most cases, oversee the entire work ability management system and ensure, e.g. smooth occupational health care co-operation. Varma Academy is an extensive source of courses and other digital content and tools to help develop competence. Varma Academy is freely available to all employees of Varma’s client companies. Varma Academy's content is mainly in Finnish.

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Over 500 of our client organisations have already identified their disability risks in the Varma Online Service

Have you? The earlier and more accurately an understanding of the possible disability risks is formed, the easier it is to develop operations in an anticipatory way and as effectively as possible.

Below are the findings on disability risks observed in client organisations.

Identify your organisation’s disability risks in the Varma Online Service

Workoad factors includes the physical and cognitive load from work tasks, as well as load factors related to the organisation of the work and interaction.
Key risks
  1. 1

    Opportunity to influence the work

    Good opportunities to influence at work promotes work ability. Pay attention, e.g. to the employees’ opportunities to influence their work tasks, working hours and decisions. Together think of how opportunities to participate and influence can be developed.
  2. 2

    Physical workload

    A physical workload may adversely affect an employee’s ability to work and function. Identify the various workload factors (such as work postures, work movements, moving, use of physical strength) and the individuals/work units that are exposed to substantial work-related strain. Support for identifying and reducing work-related strain and for assessing health risks is available from occupational health care, whose expertise can also be used in planning and targeting measures.
  3. 3

    Management approaches and structures

    Management and supervisory work are linked to work ability. Make sure that management is based on common goals and operating methods, that work goals are regularly discussed, that decision-making processes are in order and that the flow of information and interaction are smooth. Strengthening capabilities and competence related to management and supervisory work is a key means of promoting work ability.
The strategic level of work ability management includes an understanding of the overall work ability situation, goal-oriented and systematic management, decision-making and personnel’s involvement.
Key risks
  1. 1

    Number of sick leave periods

    Sick leave, especially prolonged or recurring sick leave, may increase the risk of disability pension. A sufficiently early response supports work ability and working longer.
  2. 2

    Work ability as a strategic factor

    Taking work ability into account as a strategic factor supports the productivity of your organisation’s operations. When personnel’s work ability meets the requirements of possibly changing work, both the organisation and the employee have the chance to succeed. Make sure that work ability management is goal-oriented and planned. A common understanding of work ability management processes and decision-making practices play a key role.
  3. 3

    Overview of work ability and workload factors

    An up-to-date situation overview of personnel’s work ability and the factors affecting it create a foundation for systematically promoting work ability. The situation overview also helps you target work ability support measures towards key risk factors and groups. Make sure that you have a common understanding of the nature of the work and the key workload factors. Among the means for clarifying the situation overview are a joint discussion at the workplace, collaboration with occupational health care and personnel assessments.
Work ability operating models include practices that support work ability, work ability observations and measures, as well as collaboration between the various participants.
Key risks
  1. 1

    Monitoring of work performance

    Having possibilities to monitor the progress of work and the achievement of results supports work ability. An employee’s work performance is also affected by the perceived meaningfulness and significance of the work. Think about ways that an employee’s performance can be followed up on also if there is no immediate supervisor or if the supervisor does not have opportunities for close monitoring. Make sure that you have clear and common procedures for situations in which an employee’s performance at work deviates from the targets.
  2. 2

    Resolving work ability challenges

    Solutions to work ability challenges must be sought as early as possible, as then there are usually more options for moving forward. The object of development may be, e.g. the organisation of the work, management, the flow of the work, motivation, competence or health-related issues. Examine work ability in relation to the work and how it is changing. It is important to recognise when work ability no longer meets the job requirements. For example, the collective development of work and supporting the individual in performing at work or in health-related challenges may be effective solutions.
  3. 3

    Recruitment and orientation practices

    Already in the recruitment and orientation phase, it is important to ensure that the work is inspiring and motivating for the employee, and that it matches his/her skills and resources and in no way puts his/her work ability at risk. This ensures that work ability has the conditions for being retained, and the employee can contribute fully to his/her work. Think about whether the work ability perspective can be taken into account better during the recruitment phase. It is a good idea to discuss with the employee, also during orientation, whether his/her work ability and the requirements of the work really match, and what will possibly cause work-related strain for the employee.
Data retrieved 11.04.2024

Help with using our services

Take care of your work ability matters online

In our online service, you can, for instance

  • survey your organisation’s disability risks
  • examine data and analyses related to work ability
  • devise a work ability management plan of action
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