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If an employee is absent for a longer period of time due to illness and is supposed to regain a foothold in the company, the legislator requires a company integration management (BEM). This also includes the employer's offer to hold a so-called "BEM conversation" with the employee concerned. However, this is not a sure-fire success. Uncertainties and fears of those affected form a difficult starting position for a successful integration of the employee, knows Katharina Maier, lecturer for occupational health management (BGM) and BEM at karriere tutor®. With examples from her own practical experience, she shows you in this article how you can promote trust-based operational integration through a BEM conversation.

The starting point and the goal of the BEM discussion

If an employee is unable to work for six weeks at a time or repeatedly for a total of six weeks within a period of 12 months, the employer is legally obliged to talk to the employee concerned in order to initiate integration into the company (Section 167, Paragraph 2, Clause 1 of Book IX of the Social Code). If the person concerned agrees, a BEM and thus the corresponding discussions can be tackled. The starting point for a BEM discussion - that is, a Discussion on integration into the company - can be very different from case to case.

The goal of the BEM conversation (s) should always be one Healthy resumption of work for the sick employee to ensure sustainable.

The process of a BEM conversation and the decisive success factors

The process of a BEM conversation can be divided into different phases - starting with the preparation and the entry over the recording of the situation up to the concrete problem solving and follow-up. The expert Katharina Maier shows you the most important questions, the points to be clarified and the decisive success factors:

Preparation and invitation

The interlocutorshould be known before starting the conversationso that the employee concerned knows who he is dealing with. In this way you also avoid fear of contact.

Mention in the invitation that one Companion with prior notice, you are welcome to bring your own. This can be an internal person - for example a trusted colleague or a member of the works council - as well as a family member. In some cases, the accompanying person can be very helpful, for example in making sure that the employee dares to accept the offer to talk to.

Provide for one spatially and personally pleasant conversation atmosphere. The room should be friendly, bright, tidy, not too warm and not too cold and, above all, undisturbed.

Since you should record important points that were discussed in the BEM conversation, it is best to think about in advance how you would like the conversation and Keeping the minutes can agree. Because you should definitely avoid writing all the time during the conversation. Perhaps a protocol template that you bring to the BEM discussion will help you.

As a BEM consultant, you should also have strong social skills bring. Above all, this includes empathy as well as the Ability to delimit, but also advisory skills. Because on the one hand it is incredibly important for the BEM conversation that you are empathetic and show sensitivity towards the employee. On the other hand, you have to make yourself aware in the conversation that you are not a psychologist who is supposed to treat the employee concerned. You must therefore have the ability to set yourself apart. "In a BEM conversation it can get very emotional, for example when bad personal strokes of fate are revealed", BEM lecturer Katharina Maier points out and therefore recommends: "So that you can protect yourself emotionally, demarcation is an important skill that Ideally, you should bring a BEM consultant with you. If you have no experience in professional interviewing and counseling, next to one will help Further training in corporate integration management - that too Practice and simulate such conversational situations. Good preparation and follow-up to the conversation as well as the consideration of the following success factors of the BEM conversation are important for this. "

Introduction - Information about the basics of the BEM

You should spend most of your time getting started with the integration interview. Here you lay the foundation for a open and trusting communication and cooperation with the employee concerned. How do you best do it? Pay attention to both in the conversation itself and in the minutes of the conversation positive and appreciative formulations.

Remember that the invitee has not been with the company for a long time and may come to you with certain uncertainties and fears. It is therefore important first of all that you create a pleasant atmosphere for discussion through an "easy" introduction.

Then you present the legal basis of the operational integration management. Clarify the employee about his Data protection rights and your Confidentiality on. Make it clear to him what goes into the personnel file and what does not. Make it clear that, as part of your duty of confidentiality, you will not go to the employee's supervisor or management after the conversation and disclose the content of the conversation.

The full explanation of data protection and confidentiality in the BEM ensures transparency and creates trust. You can delve deeper into this topic, for example, with the Article from the Bund-Verlag or by asking your legal advisor personally.

Also go to yours role as well as the various possibilities within the framework of the BEM, but also to yours Limits a. In this way you do not arouse false expectations and avoid disappointment. Transparent communication is the basic requirement for an open, trusting BEM discussion in which solutions can be found. The following questions will help you get started:

a) What is your task in the BEM discussion and in the operational integration process as a whole?

b) What are your options with which you as a BEM consultant can support those affected?

c) What can you NOT do?

d) Clear agreements such as: "If you agree, I will speak to the supervisor / colleague to find a solution for your situation in the workplace."

Main part - from situation assessment to problem solving

When the fundamentals and the general conditions of the BEM discussion have been clarified, you can come to the situation assessment, from there to work on solving the problem bit by bit. In the main part, first clarify what the reason for the absence from work was in the first place, and then pick up on there in order to find the solution to the problem straight away.

The following questions will help you further:

  • What are the health restrictions / the specific stresses on the employee at the workplace?
  • Where are the existing skills of the employee? What is there in terms of performance, what is there perhaps no longer in terms of performance?
  • Where can health problems arise in the workplace?
  • Which levers can we turn so that the employee can return to work?
  • Where are internal resources available that could support operational integration?
  • Where can we minimize burdens? Where can we promote resources so that integration is successful?

Conclusion of the conversation - target agreements, review and outlook

By the next meeting, concrete goals for integration in the workplace should be set with the employee. To do this, agree on a package of measures that will enable the employee to return to the company. Also define deadlines, by when which measure should be implemented. Possible measures for operational integration can relate to the following areas:

  • Health-oriented adaptation of the workplace
  • Work-life balance
  • further education
  • Change of job up to a change of occupation

At the end of the conversation, recapitulate what has been discussed and the next agreed steps up to the follow-up meeting or the planned resumption of work by the employee concerned.

If the implementation of a measure for operational integration requires that you speak to the sick employee's supervisor about his or her health situation, clarify with him whether he will release you from the confidentiality obligation in this specific case. This is a practicable practice in order not to block the integration process, knows Katharina Maier. However, it is important that you get a written release from the obligation to maintain confidentiality for the specific case.

Follow-up and implementation of the measures after the conversation

Follow up after the integration interview to reflect on what went well and what went bad on the one hand and to plan the implementation of the agreed measures on the other. As a BEM consultant, it is also your job to initiate the implementation of the measures and to accompany them until the goal is achieved. Katharina Maier recommends checking again after a while to see whether the integration of the employee has been successful and whether everything is still going well or whether further measures need to be taken. This is how you guarantee the sustainability of the integration measures.

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