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The Teamleader supports and encourages Employment Specialists

Lillie Hogan

The responsibility of an IPS team leader is extensive, including the day-to-day management of employment specialists, the mentoring of work and the monitoring of the team’s results, service quality control and development of operations. Our regional pilot team leaders, Lillie Hogan and Henna-Marita Salmensuo both say that they have had the opportunity to tackle completely new challenges. “I am here for my team and the fact that the employment specialists have shared their experiences with me has benefited me as well. I have had the opportunity to participate in creating something new,” says Lillie, as Henna-Marita adds: “We have had the opportunity to learn and wonder about new thing together.”

Compliance with quality criteria and their pursuit have come as a surprise in many ways

Henna-Marita Salmensuo

The adoption of the quality criteria for the IPS operating model has proven to be an entity of its own. “The quality criteria guide the work heavily. Understanding them, and the way in which these quality criteria fit in our Finnish society, keep us busy every day. They were originally developed in the USA. Although we know what should be done, we cannot change the world quickly,” says Henna-Marita. When the regional pilot was launched, the first point of attention for several employment specialists was that the IPS operating model aims to support employment in the open labour market and to distance itself from traditional recruitment support. “There has been a great deal of discussion about the use of pay benefits, work try-outs and support for organising working conditions. There are some strong stances on how these can be utilised in job coaching,” says Henna Marita. We have also noticed that the quality criteria were certainly not developed during a pandemic raging all around the world. “The quality criteria are no longer fully up to date. Society has taken a digital leap, but the quality criteria require face-to-face encounters. Of course, I support employment specialists in adhering to quality criteria, but we also need to make compromises,” says Lillie.

The way in which organisations measure work has been considered from many perspectives. “We need to make it clear that if we act in full accordance with quality criteria, a lot of work will remain invisible,” says Lillie. The results of the work must also be looked at from a broad perspective. “If an organisation is only interested in numbers, a lot of good results will remain in the dark. Employment figures are, of course, easy to monitor, but IPS job coaching brings along plenty of other content and quality of life, good changes, and it should be made visible,” declares Henna-Marita.

Cooperation is our strength

There have not been any insurmountable difficulties, both Henna-Marita and Lillie exclaim. Everything has always worked out after discussing the matter. “The employment specialists must be allowed to talk and encourage each other! Although they don’t physically encounter each other often, they need to stick together and share their experiences!” says Lillie. One of the next challenges is to make sure that the employment specialists are an integral part of the multiprofessional teams at all the outpatient clinics of the pilot. Also cooperation with all other parties, such as local government pilots, should be made possible regardless of whether the employment specialist belongs to a HUS team or a TE Office team.

It has been interesting for the team leaders to see the amount of developing and coaching their job involve. “The best is when you talk to your team members, ideas start flying and you can see their joy! I love those situations!” laughs Lillie, while Henna-Marita agrees: “It is rewarding to be able to move things forward and to support employment specialists in sharing their experiences and skills. Working together, that’s the stuff!” In their own organisations, both want to maintain discussion to ensure that the operating model continues even after the project has ended. “It is important that the management and partners are up to date so that the idea takes root. In these matters, everyone can have an impact by talking about it,” says Henna-Marita.