Facilitating job retention for chronically ill employees: perspectives of line managers and human resource managers

Joke A Haafkens, Helen Kopnina, Martha GM Meerman, Frank JH van Dijk
  • BMC Health Services Research, May 2011, Springer Science + Business Media
  • DOI: 10.1186/1472-6963-11-104

Helping chronically ill employees to stay at work

What is it about?

Background Chronic diseases are a leading contributor to work disability and job loss in Europe. Recent EU policies aim to improve job retention among chronically ill employees. Disability and occupational health researchers argue that this requires a coordinated and pro-active approach at the workplace by occupational health professionals, line managers (LMs) and human resource managers (HRM). Little is known about the perspectives of LMs an HRM on what is needed to facilitate job retention among chronically ill employees. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore and compare the perspectives of Dutch LMs and HRM on this issue. Methods Concept mapping methodology was used to elicit and map statements (ideas) from 10 LMs and 17 HRM about what is needed to ensure continued employment for chronically ill employees. Study participants were recruited through a higher education and an occupational health services organization. Results Participants generated 35 statements. Each group (LMs and HRM) sorted these statements into six thematic clusters. LMs and HRM identified four similar clusters: LMs and HRM must be knowledgeable about the impact of chronic disease on the employee; employees must accept responsibility for work retention; work adaptations must be implemented; and clear company policy. Thematic clusters identified only by LMs were: good manager/employee cooperation and knowledge transfer within the company. Unique clusters identified by HRM were: company culture and organizational support. Conclusions There were both similarities and differences between the views of LMs and HRM on what may facilitate job retention for chronically ill employees. LMs perceived manager/employee cooperation as the most important mechanism for enabling continued employment for these employees. HRM perceived organizational policy and culture as the most important mechanism. The findings provide information about topics that occupational health researchers and planners should address in developing job retention programs for chronically ill workers.

Why is it important?

There were both similarities and differences between the views of line managers LMs and HRM on what may facilitate job retention for chronically ill employees. LMs perceived manager/employee cooperation as the most important mechanism for enabling continued employment for these employees. HRM perceived organizational policy and culture as the most important mechanism. The findings provide information about topics that occupational health researchers and planners should address in developing job retention programs for chronically ill workers.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1472-6963-11-104

The following have contributed to this page: Dr Helen Kopnina