In the autumn Stena Line will be launching a new health strategy developed by the shipping company’s health educator, Lena Pihl.
“We want to move the focus from ill-health and rehabilitation to talking about health care and preventive measures,” she says.
There are laws and regulations that govern rehabilitation measures. There are no equivalent rules for preventive health measures. That made Lena Pihl start to work out a health strategy for employees onboard a few years ago. It is time to introduce it in the autumn.
“It is all about focus and structure. Raising the issue of health care, improving awareness of the importance of exercise and finding methods to work with,” she says.
“The strategy should make clear what responsibility everyone has for health work, from the shipping company management to individual employees. To succeed, health work must be integrated into the organisation’s other activities in a natural way. It is a long-term job, not a quick fix,” says Lena.
“The employer must promote and encourage good health development and provide the opportunity to train. Then it is up to everyone to take their own responsibility and actually do it. It is an interaction where everyone has responsibility.”
As examples of measures which may be used when the strategy is launched, she mentions courses for managers, information campaigns for employees and motivation-boosting activities. In connection with the launch another project will also start on the theme of change and regular exercise.
“You have to do an activity twice a week for at least 30 minutes. After three months, all those who participated will receive a really good reward on the theme of health. Then we will do another three months with a new reward, and continue like that for a year.”
Family: Partner and two sons, Carl, 10 and Alvin, 3
Lives: Ytterby, 20 km north of Gothenburg
Job: Health developer at Stena Line
Background: 1996 Catering manager on Stena Carisma. In 2001 she began working at the company office ashore.
Work environment tip: Look at yourself and be aware of how much you can gain by creating a good work environment. We are each other’s work environment!
Based on research
The three-month interval and half-hour workout were not chosen at random.
“Research shows that we need to train for 30 minutes to raise the pulse and obtain long-term results. We also know that it takes about 12 weeks before a change becomes a habit,” says Lena.
Lena came to Stena Line in 1996 as a catering manager on the high speed ferry, Carisma. Five years later she started at the shipping company’s office in charge of health issues. Since then she has studied to become a qualified stress and health care therapist as well as a certified coach. She says she has always exercised in one way or another, and when she started as a seafarer she tried to encourage her colleagues to lead a healthier life.
“I ran a morning fitness session before we began working. It was easy exercise that didn’t need a change of clothes, but it warmed you up and meant that you could cope better with the day’s work and reduced the risk of injury. Regular training is especially important in departments with a high pace and heavy lifting.”
She still has benefit from the years at sea.
“I know what conditions they have onboard, and it is important that the activities we offer work in their daily lives. But I will stick my neck out and say that everyone has time to train – it is about the individual’s insight and priorities.” Stena Line conducts an annual employee survey. It will be supplemented with a health screening for a current status analysis. It is about encouraging healthy aspects, but also noticing and helping employees with an unhealthy lifestyle.
“Based on the screening results, we can arrange more targeted actions. In general, people are already very good at exercising on the ships, but I hope that we will be able to include even more of the staff.”
Traditional health promotion has mainly been about rehabilitation. Lena said she soon saw the advantages of spending more resources on prevention, both for individual employees and for the company.
“More companies have started to realise that it is through preventive measures, before people go on sick leave, that they can make big gains. Onboard, the staff are generally positive about the health measures we promote. The strategy gives extra weight to these issues and shows that the company is taking it seriously. It is part of being an attractive employer.”