This year’s SAN prize-winners want everyone to feel satisfied

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Pia Westerholm and Jeanette Ganesjö, who work on Silja Symphony, have launched a project on the social work environment on board their ship. They were awarded the SAN prize for their efforts in October.

Many people think it is difficult to find practical exercises for the social work environment, but in the project called Together we can make a difference, chief safety officer Pia Westerholm and safety officer Jeanette Ganesjö demonstrate that there are straightforward and robust methods for improving conditions on board.

“We organise workshops with groups of three or four people working together,” says Jeanette Ganesjö. “The theme is what you can do here and now, both as an individual, in a group and as a manager and representative of the employer. We want to show that a big difference can be brought about with small changes.”

The idea for the project came to them during a seminar on working conditions for service personnel by Cecilia Österman, work environment researcher. They realized that the method Cecilia used could be adapted to needs and conditions on their own ship. They started the ball rolling in autumn last year.

“We have prepared, planned and written a project plan for two years,” says Pia Westerholm. “When the new regulation on the organisational and social work environment came into force on 1 August, we were ready to kick off.”

“Amazing response”

So far they have held two workshops on board with 15 participants in each. Each session lasts two hours, starting with information on the new regulation, what it covers and what rights and obligations it entails. The participants are then divided into groups of four or five to discuss what can be done to improve the social work environment. The session is rounded off with a joint review of the conclusions that have been drawn.

“This method sparked off a lot of thoughts among the participants. They talked about it the whole evening and discussed it with their managers. Several of them also dropped by where I work and said how good they thought it had been,” says Pia Westerholm.

“Yes, the response was fantastic, far better than our expectations,” says Jeanette Ganesjö, who works in the à la carte department. “People are so happy when someone asks for their opinion and ideas.”

Pia Westerholm has been on several courses in leadership and project management, which turned out to be very useful when the project plan was about to be written. Before they launched their project idea they made certain it was backed by the masters on board.

“The masters, Ola Bengtsson and Tobias Magnusson, are very involved in work environment measures on board. They gave us the green light straight away when we showed them the idea,” says Jeanette.

“In fact, they own the project,” says Pia. “We wanted it to be that way, to give it more weight and to make sure it was not only connected with us.”

Pia and Jeanette check with the manager of the department in question before starting each workshop, to find times that are most convenient. The plan is for everyone on board to go on two workshops before the end of next year: one basic and one continuation group. When those courses have been completed they want to go further and develop the project.

“In the first phase we will work with the different departments separately, but in the long term we want to have the departments working together. Wiping out the boundaries between the departments is a dream we have,” says Pia Westerholm.

The jury’s reasons

This year’s SAN prize-winners have demonstrated a genuine commitment to the social work environment on board the ships where they work. As well as their normal duties, they have launched a project to make more of the crew aware of their work environment and they want to change it for the better. They invite staff to workshops where they inform them about the new legislation on the maritime social work environment and what they can do to create a healthier atmosphere. Cooperation is the hallmark of their commitment; they run the project together with the ships’ masters and always try to involve more crewmembers who, like themselves, have a passion for work environment issues. With their project, this year’s SAN prize-winners have shown how to work successfully with social work environment issues in a very clear and concrete way.

Linda Sundgren

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