Enjoying one's work makes a difference to our clients

Enjoying one's work makes a difference to our clients - Einar Hermannsson

Einar Hermannsson, Chairman of SÁÁ (AA), states that it is important to pay particular attention to supporting the clinic's staff given the fact that those who seek the assistance of SÁÁ are a fragile group of people who need understanding and care during these coronavirus times.

There are numerous tasks awaiting Einar, and he addresses them firmly, including negotiations with Sjúkratryggingar Íslands ('Icelandic Health Insurance'). Some tasks, however, must be met with humility and the álfasalan ('elf-figurine sale') fundraising is one such project. At present and due to circumstances, sales of the elf-figurine fundraising effort have had to be postponed several times. This has been difficult for operations, as there has been considerable need for services during these difficult times.

“The efforts of all SÁÁ staff have been admirable during the past year. We have experienced all kinds of situations due to isolation measures, both within the Vogur treatment centre and our outpatient facilities. My role in all this is to support our staff and help in any way I can.

To give you an insight into the work we do, the rooms in Vogur are double rooms and we have 60 beds. We have needed to reduce down to 40 admissions to the facility. This has been a challenge, as our waiting list is quite long. And then there is our out-patient department, which has faced the same challenges. We cannot have too many in a small space. We have had to divide into smaller groups and use other rooms, and for a time, we have needed to provide almost all services by telephone or online.

We try as best we can to keep everything going and make every effort to call our clients on a daily basis. Our twelve-step programme has been important for our clients. All kinds of groups have visited us at the treatment centre to provide information on their operations. Such work has not been active during the coronavirus pandemic due to infection prevention, and in addition, we have loaned our premises that have been used for 12-step programmes that have, for the most part, been postponed.

Those who are battling alcoholism need to avoid being alone, and we always recommend that after treatment, clients should re-enter the community and connect with a variety of activities to maintain their recovery. We are, therefore, considerably worried about our people who return home immediately and are thereby more alone than we would wish. We make every effort to provide support, and in order to do so, our staff must be in good mental and physical health.”

Einar has used HR Monitor human resources measurements for some time and says that the tool is important in maintaining the policies that he finds important in the operation.

“We measure on a monthly basis, and this gives us a good view and ability to respond to what needs to be done immediately. Luckily, our measurements have shown positive results as regards staff satisfaction, something that I have placed great importance on in our operation.”

Why does job satisfaction mean so much to you?

“Because when I took over this job, there were a number of thorny issues and the employees had divided themselves into several interest groups. I wanted to set a clear course and get everyone on the same team. I want our staff to know what we do and where we are heading. Most of the work we have been doing as regards human resources has been spent on fixing staff issues, preparing agreements and restructuring our organisational chart.

Human resources are, as the name states, resources. One needs to protect these and nurture them. You will never succeed with disaffected employees. I have been considerably involved in football training, where team spirit is highly important. Each team member is important, but we need to work as a team and help each other.”

What is the best advice that you have received as a leader?

“To be approachable and be trusting. I was once told that being human is special and that no one is perfect. And the fact is, that when something bad happens, you should say so yourself, tell the truth and do so right away.

Honesty is the foundation for trustworthiness, and I feel that employees respond positively in so many ways if they feel that they can rely on their supervisors. There is also the fact that if my staff are happy, services to our customers are inevitably better. This is also incredibly valuable.”