Six Top Tips for Occupational Health Success

6 Top Tips for Occupational Health Success

I ran into an old school friend at a reunion who asked me about my current job. When I told him that I worked in London, he looked shocked. How had I done that? Did I get the job from knowing someone or what was my secret?

Which got me to thinking if I did have a secret and I guess I have 6. And here are my six tips on how you win that contract, keep your job and/or knock the others out of the ballpark.

These all worked for me and still do:

1. Using technology

Nowadays you would think that everybody knows and understands how computers, tablets and mobile phones make business go better and faster. This is not so. In my experience, it’s unusual to find occupational health professionals up-to-date with current technology, uses Facebook, Twitter or even uses the apps available for business. The larger companies have information technology (IT) ability, but it’s the geeks that make our service contemporary – indeed very few medics even know what’s available.

It’s shocking really that most children under five know to swipe a mobile phone screen to see the next photo, yet so many over 45 do not. For these technophobes, there’s no interest in learning, and they are already fast becoming obsolete and ready for replacement,  believe me, the internet and its tools are the secret to business and personal success if you are aiming for the corporate market.

See here for one of my videos I have made and uploaded on my YouTube channel to tell people what occupational health does:

There are many others like this made in different ways and with different software.

Only yesterday I was telling someone about running a webinar, and they looked at me as if I had grown two heads.

Be warned, if you don’t start using technology – you will be left like those using quills and ink when everyone else is on a typewriter. Seriously, we need to modernise and drag our profession along with us to keep up with business life.

That’s not to say you have to sign up for a coding course straight away – why not start learning how to touch type with one of the free apps that you can get online. Or go to YouTube and see how technology has become much easier to use. Watch TED talk videos they are truly inspiring.  Be warned, though, you could spend hours on that site…..

image of blog post template in Microsoft Word - helps occupational health success
Screen Shot of blog post templates in Word

Use the information at your fingertips. I dictated the rough draft of this article using the dictation application of my iPhone, then emailed it to myself via my free Hotmail account and tidied it up in Word using the automatic blog posting template.

I then sent it directly to my WordPress site and hey presto!  Here it is.

2. Job interviews

When you go for a job, have an idea of what they might need in the company and not necessarily what they are requesting they need. Do your research and suggest how it will help them, be original, base it on fact, current market conditions or your personal vision.  Link it to research, best practice and benefits.

No one understands occupational health as much as a professional health person.  If you don’t have an OH professional on the interviewing panel, then take this into account when making your arguments.

Take charge of the interview – get them to want you and your vision. Show the panel the potential of who and what you are; plan for making it work. Ignore the brief you were given and sell a better, workable way forward, taking into account what’s happening in the world of occupational health. Tell them why it will work and how it will work. Mention time frames and assumptions and the support you need. Have the package worked out and then leave it with them. If they chose you then you have control, if they don’t, then you walk away knowing that what they want is likely to fail.

I attended an interview for a company needing a new strategy. They had a plan in mind and wanted to know how I would carry out it. To be honest, I didn’t think it would work but and rather than not saying this and appearing lukewarm for the job; I presented a strategy I thought would work better. It had a few of the original core elements they wanted, but the presentation showed an entirely new model I could make work. I didn’t do it to shock or be different – I did it because I knew it would be successful in that company at that time – I did my research and presented my findings and recommendations.

I took control of the interview, and I won. I was offered the job. Unfortunately by the time they offered me the post, another company had taken me up on my vision for them, which, incidentally was in a different industry with different needs. Same approach though.

Story Telling

Another tip during discussions is to use examples from life, tell a story to make a point. For example, when I worked in a laboratory I understood that dealing with scientists was fraught with danger! All were so much cleverer than me and totally academic.  However, they struggled with the application of theory to practice. During the job interview for the laboratory job, I told the story how I had measured the cholesterol levels of a Professor. His readings were too high, and I had to explain how to cut his cholesterol. Rather than launch right into it, I asked the Professor if he understood cholesterol. To which he replied drolly:

“My dear, I could draw you the molecule”.

The interviewing panel fell about laughing because they understood exactly what I was saying.

Remember be honest about things going wrong and failures in your past. How you changed course using real examples; this acknowledges that things don’t always go to plan and that you are flexible.

3. Punctuality

Punctuality in this section is not the ordinary sense of arriving at a meeting on time. It’s about punctuality with everything you do. Keeping promises. Being on time with all sorts, reports, replies, answers, appointments, remember to do things you say you are going to do or say why you can’t. You’d be surprised how many people place an enormous value on being punctual. Deliver what you promise and if you can, a bit more besides.

Prioritise your work and your time.

Use your time wisely grasshopper and you will succeed not only in work but life as well.

4. Team Work

If you work in a team, use your team consistently. Don’t just give them the dull humdrum everyday tasks; remember to give them the leader tasks too. Invite them to meetings. Ask them what they would do in tricky situations. Above all delegate tasks. Occupational health success comes with a motivated team.

5. Keep an eye on the Competition

If you think your service is going to be outsourced, or a new provider is on the horizon – start looking to take over the service yourself or change how you deliver the service at the moment, obviously it’s not working on some level, or you would not be under threat.

Review your services – do you need them all, can they be changed or revamped? What are other companies in your service sector doing?

Don’t wait to be told – make an appointment with your manager and list your suggestions for improving the service or cutting costs. See number 2 in this list.

Make innovative suggestions pointing out that you know the employees and your company – it will be a lot of work for your business to take on a new occupational health service, suggest they give you a trial and list the advantages to that, all managers are usually interested in that particular suggestion.

6. Fess Up

Don’t be afraid to say ‘sorry I made a mistake’ or asking for help when stuck, whether from your team or management. I know it’s uncomfortable, and you feel vulnerable but sometimes it’s the only thing to do and gains respect throughout the company.


There are my six tips for being successful – not secrets, but if you follow my advice you will improve your success rate in occupational health practice

Have you got an example of how you beat the competition?  Let me know your tip for occupational health success?

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