WHM Management

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[edit] Introduction

WHM management is a concept originating in Finland that assumes that health and work ability can be maintained through a combination of targeted measures. The letters W, H and M stand for the words “work ability and health maintenance”.

[edit] Facts

WHM management requires systematic, cross-functional approaches in the following corporate innovation areas:

  • HR policy
  • Work organisation and job design
  • Upskilling and skills development
  • Leadership and corporate culture
  • Health and occupational health and safety
  • Innovation and knowledge transfer

Successful WHM management requires an integrated approach across various sectors of a company. As such, management and control should ideally be located with a staff function with access to all sectors of the company. This makes WHM management and demographic change a matter for senior management attention for every company wishing to rise to this challenge and take advantage of the opportunities it offers.

[edit] HR policy

The diversity of a population should be reflected in the diversity of a company’s workforce. The objective is to take a diversity approach making productive use of a variety of skills and experiences. This requires better inclusion of women, older employees and employees with an immigrant background. Future HR policy must also place greater emphasis on the inclusion of target groups who have not necessary been the focus of recruitment policy hitherto. Managing and integrating this variety to create unity from diversity will also be a matter for HR policy in future.

[edit] Work organisation and job design

It is advisable to deploy older workers in areas where they can best contribute their skills and capabilities. Work organisation measures should also open up career paths that, as an alternative to traditional vertical development options, facilitate horizontal paths for professional development. At the same time, employees must accept that the job they do at the age of 60 will not necessarily be the same job they learned 35 years previously.

[edit] Upskilling

Systematic and ongoing upskilling of employees is a central task of management. Activities may include guidance on continuing education and training carried out internally in the form of coaching, development of CET plans, implementation of mixed-age teams and mentoring schemes to facilitate intergenerational learning, and job design to promote learning. Upskilling management is relevant for employees of all age groups and not just older employees, although opportunities for older employees should be tailored to this group. At the same time, employees themselves must be willing to train and develop their skills as much as they can throughout their lifetimes.

[edit] Management and corporate culture

The management style of supervisors has a decisive influence on work ability, particularly for older employees. It is essential to create a corporate culture in which appreciation for the contributions of different generations and cooperation between them are firmly established. This involves recognising the achievements of older staff as well as openly addressing deficits and areas where younger employees perform better.

[edit] Health and occupational health and safety

Preventive healthcare and occupational health and safety play a central role in the maintenance of work ability. This includes measures aimed at preventing physical illness and ensuring employees remain able to work, such as ergonomic workstations and back care training.

Mental health problems and their avoidance will be increasingly important in future. The demands of the modern working environment are a source of increasing psychological stress. Causes include heavier workloads, time pressure and lack of appreciation as well as lack of control by individual employees over their work.

[edit] Innovation and knowledge transfer

To remain competitive, companies must retain their capacity to innovate. And companies can benefit from mixed-age teams in particular when developing new products and services. Conversely, demographic change offers significant potential for new products and services. It is also becoming ever more important to document and transmit the experiential knowledge of older employees – particularly those who will be leaving the company in the foreseeable future – so that other employees can use it and pass it on.

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