Worker health initiatives: The Kokkola approach
The Kokkola zinc smelter manages a variety of worker health initiatives with the aim of minimising sick rates, and maintaining a healthy workforce.
"We continuously try to strengthen our proactive health work on an individual and company level. We believe this is the only way we can permanently reduce sick leave rate – both in the short and long-term," says Human Resources Manager Tarja Halonen.
A variety of worker health initiatives have been implemented in recent years. Kokkola has a sick rate slightly below the industry average in Finland.
Examples of Kokkola's worker health initiatives:
Free physiotherapist and psychologist sessions
In 2014, Kokkola began to offer free physiotherapy and psychologist sessions to its employees in co-operation with the company's healthcare centre. An external physiotherapist is on site three days a week and sessions are open to all employees. Two psychologists are available when needed to provide support to Kokkola employees faced with difficult situations in their life following a referral from the company's doctor.
Early healthcare support
A healthcare support system has been established at Kokkola since 2013 to proactively support individual employees with health problems. The approach involves close cooperation between the employee, manager, healthcare centre and the Human Resources department in order to prevent sick leave and help employees back to work.
Leisure activity programme
The company pays half the cost of employee fitness memberships and other leasure activities, including theatre and cinema. It also offers weekly ice hockey, football and volleyball sessions for employees, and rents cottages close to the sea and popular skiing centres.
Cykle to work campaign
Kokkola has run a successful cycling campaign for several years to encourage employees to cycle to work between April and September. About a quarter of the employees are involved in the initiative. Participants register how much they cycle to work and can win prizes by participating in the campaign.
There has been increasing focus on ergonomics at Kokkola in recent years, both in offices and on the production floor. For example, electronically adjustable tables have been installed in offices and better ergonomics was one of the driving forces when designing a new casting line in 2014. Kokkola's Physiotherapist also visits workplaces to help people to improve their ergonomics at work.
Insurance for medical operations
Kokkola offers a voluntary insurance to all its employees that allows workers to quickly receive urgent medical treatment, including hospital operations and surgery. The insurance reduces waiting times and can reduce recovery times to allow employees to return to work more quickly.