To Kent Søgaard Sørensen, his work means everything, which is why he was grateful when Wila offered him the opportunity to continue in a job position adapted to his needs following a major motorcycle accident.
Imagine that your life changes in a split second. That was what happened to Kent just over 20 years ago, when he was in his early 30s. He was driving on his motorcycle when suddenly a tractor veered out of a forest. What happened next, he still does not know, for the first thing he remembers was waking up at Skejby Hospital. His broken ribs were the least of his concerns, for he had also suffered a head injury and was paralysed on one side. Walking, speaking and moving was something he had to learn all over again.
Kent started a long and tough rehabilitation programme at the neurological centre Hammel Neurocenter, later continuing at the brain injury centre, Hjerneskadecentret Aarhus. His only focus was getting back to work again. That was what he was fighting for. But a year passed before the doctors assessed that he was ready to return to production at Wila. Initially, he was work-ability tested during reduced hours.
“I was still paralysed and had cognitive challenges, so I started out gently on a flexible programme where initially I could plan my hours myself. It took about a year before I was back at full strength. But I was just happy to be back at my workplace again. When there were things I couldn’t deal with, I got help from my colleagues,” says Kent Søgaard Sørensen.
After Kent’s accident, Wila was left in no doubt. Solutions had to be found so he could get back to working with his colleagues. Firing him was never an option.
“When you are part of the Wila family and make a great effort for the company, it’s our obligation to find solutions for our employees so they can continue working despite us having to take any special needs into consideration. Kent is highly skilled and a good and loyal employee – without employees like him, there would be no Wila,” says Michael Nielsen, Plant Manager.
Today, Kent is employed as a stainless-steel welder and operates production robots. He is still challenged on his fine motor skills and balance, but otherwise he works on an equal footing with his colleagues. Unfortunately, he is now affected by illness, which requires ongoing treatment and check-ups at the hospital. When he took sick leave in December, Kent left his meeting with CEO Ilhami Alici with peace of mind.
“Ilhami asked me if there was anything I needed. I replied that I would like to work just three days a week so I also have the time and energy for hospital visits. He did not hesitate at all and immediately said that we’ll just do that. It’s great when the top boss is so understanding and clear-cut. Because then you don’t have to go around worrying,” says Kent Søgaard Sørensen.
For Kent, his work has always been a big part of his identity. It therefore means everything to him that both his accident and illness are taken into consideration at the workplace.
“If Wila was not flexible in relation to my illness, I could not remain here. Things turned out almost the way I wanted them to, which also means that I want to do my best at my job.”
“At Wila A/S, we have a dedicated and skilled staff who perform all tasks with common sense, great professionalism, pride and expertise.”