“WE NEED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR OURSELVES”
The first part of this interview with Jacqueline Schreiber, Head of HR Health Management at Basler Switzerland, was published on October 3, 2017. In the second part of the interview, she explains the responsibilities of employers and employees and outlines the way in which occupational health management needs have evolved in recent years.
Claudia Kraaz: Ms Schreiber, what would you describe as the general obligations of an employer in the area of health management?
Employers have a statutory duty of care. That means we have an obligation to protect and ensure the welfare of employees. Here, the focus is on the general protection of the personal rights of employees, data protection, gender equality and asset protection, as well as the provision of references. The personal rights of employees that an employer must protect mainly include life and health, as well as their physical and psychological integrity. Furthermore, an employer is not permitted to place excessive pressure on employees or to burden them with such a large workload that it jeopardizes their health. There is also an increased duty of care towards apprentices. This means that the employer must provide work and workspaces that are conducive to their health and wellbeing. Naturally, it is very much in our own interests to have fit and healthy employees, since this is a key factor determining the success of our company.
And can employees take responsibility for themselves?
Employees can make a major contribution towards staying fit and healthy – and not just at a physical level. They can also help to ensure they are satisfied at work. If their line manager’s conduct is not appropriate, for example, there are people they can reach out to – such as their HR Business Partner, their line manager’s superior, our in-house Case Management function or the Employee Committee. This is the only way we can learn about the problem and change the situation. I believe that assuming responsibility for yourself is about taking care of your own wellbeing and communicating. Another topic in this context are the numerous freedoms and opportunities that young people enjoy today. The result is that they are now quicker to turn their back on an apprenticeship. Young people are less willing to battle their way through difficulties. I believe there is a risk of a certain loss of strength and determination.
Private life has become more important
To what extent have employee expectations towards their employer changed in recent years and has this influenced your offering?
Nowadays, employees assign greater importance to their private life, quality of life and free time. This means that we have to offer part-time working models for women and men, as well as job-sharing. People are no longer satisfied with a good salary alone. In general, young people want to work much more flexibly – and as an employer, we have to take these needs seriously and create the right structures if we are to attract and retain good people. In HR Health Management, we therefore continuously adapt our offering to the needs of our employees.
Is there a high level of demand for your services? Have you witnessed an increase?
When we run full-day courses, the level of demand tends to be limited. As a result, we usually offer lunchtime or half-day events, which are very popular. Our ergonomics courses attract a very high level of demand. We carry out workplace assessments for individuals or entire teams as well as courses throughout Switzerland. The take-up of personal consultations by employees has increased. A decade ago, I handled the entire HR Health Management at Basler Switzerland myself. Today, there are three of us working full time, since there is a constantly growing demand for our services and we have added further offerings. Examples include the around 10 training positions for individuals receiving disability benefits that we provide to the Disability Insurance in the cantons of Basel-Land and Basel City so that they can offer them to their insured. The individuals concerned can complete training courses in selected departments to help them deal with pressure and prepare to return to working life. We also offer three apprenticeships for people with special needs. This demonstrates that we don’t only want to assume our social responsibility towards our own employees but also towards external stakeholders as part of or role in the economy. Hence, we have a very broad range of activities.
Helping employees to perform well
Businesses are faced with enormous cost pressures and many jobs are being cut. However, Basler Switzerland’s HR Health Management team has been able to significantly expand its offering. How much importance does your Executive Board assign to health management?
The Executive Board assigns considerable importance to this topic based on the knowledge that we make an important contribution to ensuring that employees stay fit and healthy and can thus continue to deliver a good performance. And I have also noted that we have a good reputation among our employees because they recognize that we care for their wellbeing.
Jacqueline Schreiber (aged 45) has been Head of HR Health Management and Case Management at Basler Switzerland since 2006. Prior to that, she worked in a rehab clinic run by social services. Jacqueline Schreiber is a qualified social education specialist and has an MAS in Social Legislation. In April 2010, Basler became the first all-lines insurance company in Switzerland to be awarded the ‘Friendly Work Space’ label by Gesundheitsförderung Schweiz, a Swiss foundation that promotes health and wellbeing and is supported by the Swiss cantons and insurers.
The first part of the interview with Jacqueline Schreiber was published on October 3, 2017. You can read it here: http://www.stressandbalance.ch/en/2017/10/03/no-clear-boundary-between-work-and-leisure/.
© Claudia Kraaz