Promoting health and work ability is important during unemployment

According to a recent study published by the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK, the unemployed consider poor health to be their biggest obstacle to employment. If the unemployment has lasted for over a year, the importance of health problems as an obstacle to employment increases. The employment services of the City of Helsinki recognise this phenomenon. Helping jobseekers maintain their own health and work ability is an important goal for the employment services.
A person is riding a bicycle in the harbour. There are sailing boats on the quay.
Work ability is about the balance between the person’s resources and work. Photo: Julia Kivelä

Sari Tuominen, Work Ability Coordinator at Helsinki Employment Services, encourages jobseekers to discuss their health with their own specialist. 

– We advise jobseekers to talk about matters related to their health and work ability at a low threshold. We treat all health-related discussions confidentially. Sharing is definitely worth it, as it helps us support our clients in finding employment. It allows us to offer services that are suitable for the client’s specific situation, Tuominen explains. 

The employment services ask about their clients’ health and work ability in the same way as employers ask about jobseekers’ competence and training. Anyone who is unemployed can discuss with their specialist, for example, whether their work ability needs further assessment. If you have a disability or illness that has been diagnosed by a doctor and that impacts your employment, you should also discuss it with your specialist. You submit your most recent medical reports to your specialist.  

– If someone has had health or work ability challenges for a long time, they may have become so normal for that person that they forget to mention them. However, this information can be crucial for us at the employment services in deciding how we can help, Tuominen says.

Work ability is about the balance between the person’s resources and work. In broader terms, work ability covers health and functional ability, competence, related parties and the environment, values, motivation and circumstances, as well as resources. There are many methods for assessing work ability. At its simplest, it can be assessed by approaching it from different perspectives and giving a grade for one’s own work ability. 

– If you grade your work ability as an eight or below, you should bring the matter up, Tuominen says. 

Omaolo offers help and support for maintaining health

The Omaolo website became widely known as a tool for assessing COVID-19 symptoms. The service has many other useful features for health maintenance. For example, users can complete an electronic health check-up in the service. The website also has instructions for going to the health centre, as needed. 

– We instruct our clients who are comfortable using online services to complete a health check-up electronically in Omaolo. It helps them monitor and maintain their own health, Tuominen explains.

In addition to the health check-up, Omaolo offers health-promoting electronic training on topics such as physical exercise, sleep or weight management. The purpose of the training is to help and support independent health maintenance. 

Unemployed jobseekers can also visit their own health centre for a health check-up. If you are unable to complete the health check-up online in Omaolo, the employment services will refer you to the health centre. The appointment with a nurse is free of charge and the nurse will refer you to further treatment or rehabilitation, if necessary. You can also have your health examined without a referral by contacting your own health centre. 

– It is good to remember that limited work ability is rarely an obstacle to employment. The better we know the limitations, the easier it will be for us to offer the jobseeker suitable work and individual support in finding a job, Tuominen says.

Learn more

Health and work ability

SAK’s study: Health problems and age are significant obstacles to employment (in Finnish)