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VGR turns 25 – She's gone from nurse to HR manager – VGR Focus

VGR turns 25 – She's gone from nurse to HR manager – VGR Focus

Human Resources Director Marina Olsson. Photo: Katharina Verberg.

On January 1, it was 25 years since the founding of the Västra Götaland Region (VGR). One person who has been involved from the beginning is Human Resources Director Marina Olson, who started as a nurse on a union assignment. Here she talks about the development of the region and the wonderful work of Angered.

Marina Olson has experience as a health care assistant and nurse, but when VGR was founded in January 1998, she was a nurse.

– I had my position at Sahlgrenska and was active in the Healthcare Association. There, four local administrations were merged at the same time as the region was formed, and I was elected head of the new administration, says Marina Olsson.

In doing so, she became a representative in the MBL group of the Regional Council, and worked with working environment issues from a union perspective.

“All flowers must bloom”

Marina Olsson recalls that there was a lot of activity from all sides – with civil servants, politicians and unions – to get at all the new things, and how they could work in one area rather than several smaller contexts.

– There was a lot of dialogue, “How should we deal with this,” and there was also a lot of understanding of each other. There was a strong will to cooperate.

But in the early days, there was no doubt that all parts of the region would function in the same way. Instead, operations were managed in different ways, with their own solutions and systems.

-All flowers must bloom. It did not mean that you had to centralize, but that each company could operate according to its own characteristics.

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More cohesive today

Marina Olsson believes that there has been a significant change in this area compared to today. Over the past 25 years, VGR has evolved into a more cohesive area, operating more similarly across the organization. She believes that this work is not finished yet, but it is the right way forward.

– Sometimes we will have to do things differently, because we have very different types of operations and different geographical conditions. But there must be an effort to do as much as possible. This should feel like it One organized. A cohesive group and a cohesive health care system.

He became hospital director

After nearly ten years as local president of Vårdförbundet, Marina Olsson thought it was time to do something else. After producing a report on leadership training, she was encouraged to apply for the position of hospital manager at the local Angered Hospital.

To be a part of this process – from decision making to completion of the hospital – Marina Olson considers one of her most enjoyable job assignments at VGR.

-The fact that I stayed there for a few years was great. I don't think there are many times in one's life – perhaps only once or barely – that one can be part of building something from scratch.

Committed people

In the mission, it was clear that the Angered Community Hospital would be established based on the existing needs in the area, in terms of healthcare and public health.

For Marina Olsson, who comes from a caring background, it was wonderful to be able to be involved in the planning and creation of such work. Being able to start completely from scratch, and avoid having to deal with thoughts of “this is the way we've always done it.”

– I met many people who were involved: local organizations of various kinds, sports organizations, religious organizations, housing companies, and there was close cooperation with the city of Gothenburg. It was very clear that it was an important mission. There was incredible energy and settler spirit, and committed politicians who invested and followed it all with great interest. It was very fun.

The need for care is increasing

Today, Marina Olsson has been Human Resources Director for nine years, working to lead, develop and coordinate work on employee issues.

The obvious challenge you see going forward is the supply of skills: there are more and more older people in society, which means the need for care is increasing – even though the population is becoming healthier and healthier later in life. At the same time, there will be fewer people of working age.

-There we need to use our common resources, but we also have to see how we can develop them further. We also need to work to be an attractive employer. In recent years, we've worked a lot on employee development and retention – focusing not just on recruitment, but on reviewing what makes people want to stay. We need to have access to development opportunities, develop new ways of working and take advantage of new technology that exists and will come.

Text: Ellen Widfeldt
[email protected]


Three important milestones in 25 years of VGR, according to Marina Olsson

  • VGR now has long-term and politically defined strategies in various areas of responsibility.
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“The lesson learned over these twenty-five years is the importance of having long-term strategies that you agree on politically, so that you do not change direction if you change the political leadership. I think this is important.”

  • The decision stipulates that a manager should not have more than 35 employees under his command.

“It was a regional director decision that was made in 2015. We have seen during the pandemic that it is important not to have very large groups if you have directors present.”

  • Establishment of the Institute of Stress Medicine, where researchers will study different perspectives on ergonomics issues.

“I think this has subsequently proven to be very, very important. It means that we can follow the research findings and constantly use them in how we work with our systematic work environment, like our employee surveys and other pieces, but we also help with guidance on work environment issues.”


VGR 25 years

  • On 1 January 1999, the Vastra Götaland region was formed. A year earlier, the province of Västra Götaland was formed (a merger of Alfsborg County, the provinces of Gothenburg and Boho and the province of Skaraborg, excluding the municipalities of Molsjo and Habo).
  • The VGR Regional Council was actually formed in the fall of 1998, so the Regional Council celebrated its 25th anniversary in October.

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