Faith in the future and work motivation – the keys to maintaining the work ability of the unemployed
Press release 28/2016, 30th May 2016, Helsinki, Finland
Many who are on the outside of work life feel that their work ability is poor. However, work ability may be maintained by believing in the future and being strongly motivated to work. Feeling part of something, believing that what you do is meaningful and relevant, and good social relations can also help.
Social Inclusion and Change of Work Ability and Functional Capacity (Solmu), a co-ordination project of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) is developing a method called the Abilitator, which produces information on the changes in perceived work ability and functional capacity of those who are of working age but not in employment. Initial results show that these individuals assess their own work ability as being rather poor. On a scale of 0‒10, women graded their average perceived work ability at 5.9 and men at 6.4. The average score of the general population is a couple of points higher.
“We should take care of our personal resources. Things that help us maintain our work ability are, for instance, good perceived health, an active lifestyle, the ability to focus on different things, coping with everyday tasks, believing that you will find work, and strong motivation to work,” says Specialist Researcher Minna Savinainen from FIOH.
Work ability outside of work life
In addition to individual characteristics, education and skills gained through experience, things like family, close community and social networks all affect a person’s perceived work ability. As we learn new things and gain experience, our work ability constantly improves and develops. It is promoted by experiences of inclusion, such as being part of a community or, for instance, taking part in the development work of the Abilitator.
Not much research exists on the work ability of the unemployed. Although in principle, work ability is related to the demands of work and thus to work itself, we can all evaluate our own work ability and readiness to work, regardless of our situation.
The Abilitator ‒ created together
“If we want to promote participation in work life, we have to be able to develop increasingly better ways of evaluating the remaining work ability of those who are not in employment. The Abilitator determines work ability on the basis of the individual’s self-evaluation,” explains Jorma Seitsamo, Specialist Researcher from FIOH.
The Abilitator is meant for those on the outside of work life. It will be launched in 2017, as a web-based tool for evaluating one’s own work ability. Addressing the things that affect work ability gives a person who is not employed a comprehensive picture of their own work ability, and helps them see how they can take steps to promote their own work ability and health themselves. The Abilitator provides feedback and proposes further actions. It is being developed in collaboration with unemployed individuals and different project team members.
“From the perspective of the reliability of the Abilitator, it is essential that, in addition to the project team members, people with real experience are involved in developing the method. The Abilitator assesses the individual’s own specific experience, and this is something on which we place great value,” continues Miia Wikström, the researcher from FIOH responsible for developing the method.
The Solmu co-ordination group held an Abilitator development event on 17.5, which was open to the public.
By the end of March 2016, 472 working-aged people not currently in employment had completed the Abilitator. They participated in five projects funded by the ESF. The Abilitator’s user base may expand in the future. The Solmu co-ordination project is funded by the European Social Fund’s reserves of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.
Want to know more?
Minna Savinainen, Specialist Researcher, FIOH, tel. +358 46 851 5867, minna.savinainen[at]ttl.fi
Jorma Seitsamo, Specialist Researcher FIOH, tel. +358 30 474 2410, jorma.seitsamo[at]ttl.fi
Miia Wikström, Researcher, FIOH, tel. +358 43 825 4880, miia.wikstrom[at]ttl.fi
Anne Salmi, Senior Specialist, FIOH, tel. +358 43 824 1342, anne.salmi[at]ttl.fi
What is work ability? http://www.ttl.fi/en/health/wai/multidimensional_work_ability_model/pages/default.aspx
Kristiina Kulha, Head of Communications
Tel. +358 30 474 2551, +358 40 548 6914,
Tiina Kaksonen, Communications Assistant
Tel. +358 30 474 3015, +358 50 364 3158
The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) researches, develops and specializes in well-being at work. It promotes occupational health and safety and the well-being of workers. It is an independent institution under public law, working under the administrative sector of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. It has five regional offices, and its headquarters are in Helsinki. The number of personnel is about 560.