Persistent efforts to promote well-being at work increase productivity, improve product and service quality, and reduce the amount of sick leave. The Finnish National Prize for Innovative Practices in Employment and Social Policy in 2015 has gone to the City of Kankaanpää and Pipelife Finland Oy for their valuable contributions to the overall development of the working community.
The Fund for a National Prize for Innovative Practices in Employment and Social Policy is awarding this year’s prize to two organisations for their exemplary effective work: Pipelife Finland Oy and the City of Kankaanpää and Pipelife Finland Oy. One has succeeded in retaining jobs for older employees, while the other has prolonged careers. Both organisations show how workplaces can take action to adapt to a changing world. They will receive a prize of 40,000 euros each.
Well-being at work and financial success go hand in hand. Both organisations view well-being at work as a key tool for ensuring productivity and quality. The commitment of the management, supervisors and employees is crucial to promoting workplace well-being.
Since the founding of the fund less than a decade ago, accounting for ageing workers in working life has become more common. In addition, increasing numbers of pensioners have continued working during retirement. Extending careers continues to be a topical goal. However, a more comprehensive approach to working life will be needed to achieve this. An organisation needs to be profitable. Employees must be taken care of throughout their careers, not just in the last few years. In the long term, employee engagement and motivation are a precondition for profitable and productive operations.
”All our supervisors are responsible for the well-being of their staff. Our leadership approach is top-down, bottom-up and horizontal,” says Project Manager Mia Siltala of Pipelife Finland Oy. ”We use the ‘triangle of life’ to monitor our staff’s well-being balance. The triangle covers work, personal well-being and family and friends. Occasional bouts of stress are inevitable in one area of life or another, but this should not become a permanent condition,” says Siltala, describing the Pipelife approach to monitoring employee well-being.
Pipelife Finland Oy is one of the largest manufacturers of plastic pipes and fittings in Europe. Ensuring well-being at work also has an impact on the bottom line. ”We have fewer absences (around 1%) than the industry average (4-6%). There are fewer occupational accidents and our employees have long careers, even lasting a lifetime or across generations,” adds Siltala.
In the City of Kankaanpää, age management covers all age groups, and the city provides ageing employees with special forms of support, such as reassignments and age-based leave for over-60s.
”Our employees make full use of our flexible working hours, which boosts loyalty and fosters a positive atmosphere. Trust between the employees and employer is a key issue in general,” notes City Clerk Mika Hatanpää from Kankaanpää. ”As a result of our long-term efforts, Kankaanpää has considerably fewer days of sick leave than other local authorities,” concludes Hatanpää.
Fund for a National Prize for Innovative Practices in Employment and Social Policy
In 2006, Finland received a prize, awarded by the German Carl Bertelsmann Foundation, in recognition of the country’s efforts to help older employees stay on at work and to improve their working conditions and employment opportunities. The decision was then taken to pass the prize on to workplaces, researchers, projects and others contributing to such work. The Fund for a National Prize for Innovative Practices in Employment and Social Policy was jointly established by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and Sitra. The patron of the prize is President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö.
The first National Prize for Innovative Practices in Employment and Social Policy was awarded in 2008 to Professor Juhani Ilmarinen. The second prize was awarded in 2010 jointly to Ruoka-Saarioinen, the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries and the Finnish Metalworkers’ Union. On the third occasion, the prize was awarded to Berner Oy in 2013. This time, the prize goes to the City of Kankaanpää and Pipelife Finland Oy. The last National Prize for Innovative Practices in Employment and Social Policy will be awarded in 2017, to the winners of an idea competition to be announced later.