15.12.2014 09:55

Hi! and other ways of developing your work community

Greeting your co-workers, or failure to do so, has a surprisingly direct impact on the atmosphere at work. The people at Posiva took the matter in earnest and started a work community skills development project that continued for the whole of 2014.

Tervehdys vaaka en

Whilst a good work community results from small things, every employee must be committed to making them happen. The implementation of the Työyhteisötaidot (Work Community Skills) project, headed by industrial safety delegate Topias Siren, has been ongoing at Posiva all through 2014.

topias2 web
Topias Siren
The idea was conceived in the autumn of 2013, when Siren participated in a training course organised by the Centre for Occupational Safety. One of the subjects covered was research on the organisational significance of greeting conducted by the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa. Posiva’s Occupational Safety Committee used the research as a basis to develop a project for 2014.

The research showed that when a person did not greet another person, it gave the impression that they disliked that person. This sets in motion a snowball effect that may result in erosion of the community spirit, formation of cliques and general deterioration of the atmosphere at work. Should this happen, absences due to sickness and, ultimately, resignations, which can cause significant financial losses to the organisation, are just a short step away.

“In January, we kicked off our project with greeting as the main theme. We also made a brief video on the subject and shared it with other personnel. Some people have approached the whole matter with humour, and I have heard more than a few jokes about it. However, there’s nothing wrong with that – it just tells us that people have really recognised the importance of this whole greeting thing,” says Siren.

Focus on mental skills

During the course of the project, each month has been given a theme. In addition to “greeting”, the themes have included the following: “how to be a good colleague”, “subordinate and work community skills”, “empowerment”, “healthy living habits”, “interaction skills” and “giving and receiving feedback”. The motive force behind the implementation of the project was the Occupational Safety Committee, with strong support from external experts.

“For example, we had Mato Valtonen speak to us about empowerment, and occupational safety experts told us about healthy living habits. We have also done things like encouraging people to take a little walk in the middle of the working day or participate in exercise breaks. There have been many unit-specific events, and some for the whole personnel,” says Siren.

“Implementing change in a work community is not easy. Rather, it is a slow process. At Posiva, the level of physical occupational safety is high. This is the first time that we have focused on the mental skills that can be utilised within the work community. As Posiva is an expert organisation and most of our work takes place in offices, the significance of mental skills is emphasised,” he continues.

Characteristics of a good work community

  • The organisation has taken the effort to create an atmosphere of mutual confidence and maintain it through transparent activities and uncomplicated cooperation.
  • The workplace has clear and common goals that have been communicated to everyone and that everyone can commit to.
  • The process of interaction is working; difficult situations are discussed before they turn into problems, and things are handled in a solution-centred and proactive manner.
  • Cooperative action has been taken to create action models, follow up on their effects and develop them further as required.
  • Each member of the work community feels responsibility for their own well-being as well as that of their work community.
  • Well-being at work and occupational safety are part of everyone’s job. This ensures that the work yields results, the work community as a whole maintains its ability to work and the organisation succeeds.
  • People feeling good about being part of the community and working as part of it are a definite sign of a good work community.

Source: Sirkku Pohja (Adviser, Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK)

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