Heltti | 12.6.2023

Work Capacity Management Model; a tool for systematic work capacity management

In practice, managing work capacity often turns into reactive management of disability. The focus and actions should shift towards enabling and maintaining workability. Read the blog to find out what the work capacity management model is and why it is beneficial to implement.

Work capacity management is essentially about managing well-being. In other words, all management activities within an organization that aim to support employees’ well-being, health, and work capacity fall under work capacity management.

Companies that effectively manage work capacity have employees with sufficient physical, mental, and social abilities to perform their work in the best possible way. Therefore, conscious entrepreneurs, HR professionals, and CEOs should pay attention and ask themselves how work capacity is managed in their company.

Although the concept is relatively new, the underlying principles are not. Many practices, such as onboarding programs, early support discussions, or return-to-work support, have already become established. These methods help support employees’ work capacity and combat several risk factors for decreased work capacity.

              So, work capacity management is already being done effectively – yet often without a specific model.

However, despite these efforts, work capacity management can sometimes be inconsistent, leading to reactive actions rather than proactive work capacity management. To address this, it is essential to create a systematic and comprehensive plan and framework for work capacity management in our company.

This framework is called the work capacity management model.

Developing the work capacity management model starts with assessing the current level of work capacity management in the company. This involves understanding what aspects relate to work capacity management and what practices are already in place. As mentioned earlier, many aspects are already well-established. It is rewarding to acknowledge the ones that are in good shape and move on to areas that need improvement. The main goal of this assessment is to identify which aspects are already being implemented and where there is room for improvement. Once the practices, metrics, responsibilities, and existing goals related to work capacity management are identified, it becomes much easier to enhance work capacity management by filling in the gaps and building a systematic model for the company.


Why should the work capacity management model be created?

If the work capacity management model does not seem crucial yet, here are a couple of reasons (and a gentle nudge) to convince you:

A capable employee is a productive employee

Employees are the most valuable resources a company can have. Work capacity management is a vital part of performance management. It is easier to manage the performance of employees who are feeling well and motivated as motivation, job engagement, and enthusiasm are driving factors for productivity. Employees who perceive their work capacity as good will do what is expected of them – and often much more!

Well-managed work capacity is visible both externally and internally

In a market where employees have choices, employer branding plays a significant role in recruiting and employee retention. Work capacity also directly affects the customer experience – the well-being of employees reflects on customers, resulting in a better service experience.

The law requires employers to ensure the functionality of work content and conditions

Several laws outline employers’ obligations. Since June 1, 2023, the updated Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to consider not only the physical load factors but also aspects related to work content, arrangements, and the social functioning of the work community. Employers must also monitor the effects of measures on work safety and health.

To ensure compliance with these requirements, an up-to-date work capacity management model serves as the basis for planning and monitoring.


Multiple factors contribute to work capacity

To ensure that all factors affecting work capacity are adequately considered, a work capacity management model can be developed using a framework like the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health’s work ability house. Based on Finnish research on work capacity conducted from 2000 to 2010, the work capacity house consists of four layers and nine components that cover personal, work-related, and work-community-related resources. Balance between these components and their continuous development is essential for maintaining good work capacity.


When you create something, do it well


A well-crafted work capacity management model brings strategic comprehensiveness, effectiveness, and traceability to work capacity management. At its best, work capacity management becomes an integral part of the company’s strategy, vision, and mission, as well as an essential element in daily operational management. Therefore, it is worthwhile to invest time and sufficient resources in developing the model. Collaboration with both internal and external stakeholders is crucial. Employing an external consultant for work capacity management can be beneficial – the expertise of a work capacity management specialist ensures that the model covers all essential areas and includes the necessary measures and metrics for successful work capacity management.