• Well-being at Work and Culture
  • January 11, 2018

New Year and New Tricks – Promises to the Work Community

It is 2018; 365 new days that most of us intend to live better and healthier than ever before. This is the time when the gym parking lots are full of people beginning to redeem their promises of weight loss and healthier habits.

New Year's resolutions are often criticized, but I personally like resolutions, because setting them makes you reflect on your life and what you could be doing otherwise. Spending time thinking about the direction towards which you want to steer your life is a valuable use of time in itself. At Valamis, we took a moment to decide on our work-related new year's resolutions with a few supervisors.

The following resolutions were the most common:

  • I will invest in developing my own and the team's competence more than ever before.
  • I will listen to my team members more and support communication among my team members.
  • I will support the sense of community in the workplace and within the team more than before.

It is regrettably common that resolutions are not realized unless you take a concrete grip and specify your resolution at a sufficiently detailed level. The new year's resolutions made by our supervisors made me think about how we in HR could support the resolutions made within our workplace.

Development according to the strategy on one's own terms

In order to support employee development on behalf of the company in diverse ways, at Valamis we have also adopted other methods in addition to "normal" development during working hours. The hours pursuant to the Finnish Competitiveness Pact are used for learning cross-functional skills. Study materials and tips on study methods are available to our employees, but there are no detailed rules on how development should take place. Thus, it is up to the employee to decide, as long as the development measures are aligned with the company's strategy.

The personnel of Valamis has been divided into Competence Center groups based on their areas of competence, and it is natural for the employees to develop together in these groups. Therefore, in 2018 we will encourage them to have lunches together during which the – experts in the same field – will watch a video or other presentation on a chosen topic. At the end of the company sponsored lunch, the participants will discuss the presentation and how the lessons learned from it will be utilized in their own work.

Immediate interaction

What about developing soft skills like: listening, strengthening communication and, as a special challenge, finding the time for these resolutions? I promised already last year that we will adopt a new management service model at Valamis. My promise was not kept; however, I will not be discouraged and I will try again. Therefore, I still promise that we intend to pilot the Leadership as a Service -model developed by Vincit during the early months of the year, and we believe that it will have a positive effect on the resources and time use of our supervisors.

Supervisors benefit from the service in that they can listen to and support their employees in the very matters that the employees find important at the moment. In other words, we are trying to get away from the stressful "everything for everyone at the same time" management model and move towards a more individual management style. With the model, we aim to be able to give the best direct help/guidance to each employee, whether the help would need to come from a colleague, supervisor, senior manager or n external specialist. At Valamis, we still see caring supervisory work as an important role, so the new service model is not intended to replace supervisory work but to make it easier and more effective.

We are Valamis

The third thing our supervisors promised to do was to improve the sense of community. Similarly to development, sense of community is also one of our values, and resolutions aimed at strengthening our company values are always more than welcome. Paying attention to the sense of community will be necessary, as we were so fortunate in 2017 that exactly 50 new Valamis employees joined our ranks. In fact, I promised that our HR team will support all Valamis employees in strengthening the sense of community, facilitating diverse events and forums to make strengthening the sense of community more possible. I believe that Valamis employees will be seen on joint trips, sauna evenings, sports and cultural events, board game evenings, beer tastings and diverse communication channels more than ever before in 2018.

However, the sense of community is not exclusively the employer and supervisor's responsibility; employees also have a big responsibility to build the sense of community. Our Head of Design Jarmo Valmari put it well: "Our team is divided between four locations, and the sense of community plays a key role in building trust within the team. I hope that our entire design team will rank promoting the sense of community at the top of their own resolutions."

What will happen to resolutions of leisure?

Balancing work and leisure has always played an important role in well-being at work at Valamis. Internationalization, change of strategy and the growth of the company have challenged almost every Valamis employee in recent years. The resolutions of leisure made by our supervisors were most commonly related to bringing recreational activities they themselves find important back to life. Aside from making room for sports and music, some have suggested making more time for the family and, as our Head of Marketing, Nea Kolmonen puts it, "learning healthy selfishness – how to say ‘no'" also emerged.

As a company, we can support the realization of our employees' balance between work and leisure in many ways. In my mind, it all starts with management setting an example; management must be able to be an example in how to maintain your capacity for work in the up-tempo and changing organizational environment, while also taking care of your personal wellbeing. But not even the best employment benefits can compensate, if the foundation pillars – such as life management skills and investing in well-being – do not originate from the employees themselves.

Lastly, my personal new year's resolutions. I made two resolutions: I promised to buy less plastic bags on my shopping trips and also promised that I will try to stay more positive in 2018 than in 2017. I am looking forward to seeing if I can stick to my resolutions, and which of the resolutions will be more difficult to keep. As I said at the beginning, I like resolutions: I would even say that I often keep my resolutions. But also, I will not be discouraged if my resolutions fail. You can always try again.

As someone smarter than me once said: "The tragedy in life doesn't lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach".

*The photos on the blog are from our joint trip to Berlin in fall 2017, and they were taken by Jooseppi.

About The Author

Maria Vihtkari, Chief Human Resource Officer

Maria Vihtkari

Chief Human Resource Officer

+358 44 525 0932

Maria Vihtkari is an internationally experienced HR professional with a specialty in labour law and maintaining and developing organisational culture during mergers and acquisitions. Maria has over 13 years of experience in Human Resources in the private sector. She holds two Master’s Degrees, one in Education and another one in Economics, a combination that gives her a deep understanding of the significance of a strong corporate culture and employee well-being for a successful business.