Mentor and business development director Pekka Pohjakallio from Hintsa Performance explains how to achieve a better working life.
Globalization, digitalization, automation. These are big words that can seem scary, but they are all trends that have been influencing working life for a long time. The biggest difficulties in today's working life are continually being in a rush, having an unclear job description, and the fatigue that follows from these. Although people's volume of work may not have increased, the amount of stimuli we are exposed to is growing dramatically. This proliferation of stimuli continually pulls our attention in multiple opposing directions, placing a heavy burden on our minds. At the same time, the demands for creative thinking and problem-solving are also growing.
"Research shows that when a company and its employees succeed in adding flexibility to their work habits and working culture, it boosts both employee wellbeing and business productivity," says Hintsa Performance mentor and business development director Pekka Pohjakallio.
How can we succeed in this?
According to Pohjakallio, real change can't happen in one go. Instead, small steps in adopting new working habits are more likely to bring results. Both companies and individuals should pay attention to the following, at the very least:
- Make strategic goals and vision part of everyday life. Because the present-day working culture requires employees to lead themselves, their goals must be clear. Think about how your company's strategic goals and vision are visible in your own work, and recognize how small and even seemingly trivial tasks contribute to reaching the firm's larger goals. What do the company's vision and strategy mean in concrete terms to me, in the here and now?
- Roles must be clear. Get clear on what your role is - in this particular company, this team, this specific task. And what are the roles of your colleagues and managers? The better you know what's expected of you, the easier it is for you to act accordingly.
- Experiment. When a company gives everyone freedom to experiment, even if only with little things to start with, it quickly becomes clear what works and what doesn't. A culture of experimentation also entails that anyone can make suggestions: creativity is no respecter of hierarchy. This makes it possible for positive change to come from any and all directions - not only from top to bottom, but also from the bottom up, from whoever is best placed to offer insight on some particular issue.
- Make plans, take breaks. Plan in advance what you are going to do today, and check at the end of the day if you succeeded. This is a great way to motivate yourself, and to begin gaining small but significant experiences of success. Schedule short breaks for various times in the working day, and stick to them. As part of this, you could, for example, agree with co-workers not to talk about work during the lunch break. You should also learn to say no to unnecessary meetings and work tasks. Once you maintain a connection with the company's business strategy and with your own role, prioritization becomes easy.
- Spread the positivity. Providing constructive feedback is the cheapest and easiest way to improve the working atmosphere. Motivating others is also a powerful way to make yourself feel good!
- Unleash your creativity. Many people think that creativity can be bought and imported into a company. The truth, however, is that it already present company's everyday life and current personnel, waiting to be discovered and released. Creativity is a state of mind: In short, a company starts to become creative when it decides to be creative. Therefore, even just using the word "creative" when talking about the company can help to cultivate actual creativity. Creative acts are also worth celebrating!
- Life needs balance. Tired employees are highly prone to feeling stressed, and they tend to respond to new things negatively. It is important for both your own wellbeing and for your work efficiency to get enough sleep and exercise. You also need a moment of absolute rest during the day - a moment of unavailability to anyone else, a complete break from outside stimuli. Kicking the habit of browsing on your phone or tablet before bedtime is a good idea, and also helps you sleep better.
Neste has responded to the challenge by developing ways of working that are guided by the idea that work should be flexible. The goal is to create working methods that are creative, smart, flexible - and, of course, more fun.
"Work has become more versatile and that is why it should be done where and when it is most effective. Doing work is not dependent on time or place," says Agile Working project manager Hanna Komusaari at Neste.
"Another key thing is self-management. The person doing a particular job is the leading expert on his or her own work, and has both the freedom and responsibility to influence how that work is done. This also includes continuous learning and development. This challenges both the employee and the manager positively and at best they increase motivation and commitment, and hence also wellbeing at work," Komusaari adds.