A while ago I read an article on why Finland is so successful at, well, everything, and earmarked it as “Finland is Awesome”. The more research I do into organisations, and the more “Finland is Awesome” style articles that I read, the more I am convinced that the Finnish are onto something. Finland’s successes and practices can provided a scaled blueprint for changing the face of organisations.
Understandably many of the things that Finland does are not entirely replicable at an organisational level, yet the principles underlying these practices are the true gems. Let’s explore how we can take a page out of Finland’s “kirja”.
The Finnish have the support to explore – If he wants, he can leave his job for a brief hiatus and come back to a guaranteed position months later. Give your people the freedom to explore and they will come back satisfied, with a fresh perspective, and invaluable insights to problems your business is facing. Imagine the values you could gain by allowing your employees freedom to explore, helping them realize their personal goals. Building on this there is the belief that “everyone should get a slice of the cake so that they have what they need to realize their life projects.”
Maternity leave done properly Mandatory maternity leave… the Finnish state mandates four months of paid maternity leave, and on top of that, the mother and father can share an additional six-month “parental leave” period, with pay. The Finnish go one step further as well- and this is something every company could do, on various scales: Finland’s “baby boxes, ” a sort of baby shower the Finnish government throws every mom. A package sent to expecting women contains all the essentials for newborns — everything from diapers to a tiny sleeping bag. Look after your people and you will reap what you sow. Having a baby is a crazy time for new parents and giving both parents a chance to enjoy this experience is something your employees will be grateful for. As for the baby box – it’s nice, it shows you care, it shows humanity and heavens knows todays organisations need a healthy dose of it. These things show your people that you care about them and their families and they will reciprocate with dedication and commitment.
“The thinking was,…If people are happy, they’ll maximize their work ethic, and we can develop‘” I’m not sure that’s it is necessary for me to expound on this – happy people work harder.
“The national government provides local governments with the financial means, legal powers, and the expertise to perform well” This is entirely replicable in organisations of all shapes and sizes. All it requires is trust and empowerment (picking up common themes yet?). Fact: the people working in the factory know much more about the issues and challenges they face than the executive board who only have a perceived idea of challenge and realities. So if the people in the factories had the power to make decisions and purchases based on their actual realistic needs, everyone wins. This leads nicely into another key philosophy of the Finnish, specifically their education system which places responsibility and trust before accountability. I am by no means discounting the importance of accountability; it is vital, no doubt. However, I feel there is certainly merit in first giving your people responsibility and trusting them to get the job done and then holding them accountable for it. Trust comes first.
Combine all the awesome things that Finland does and you will find that you have created a“virtuous circle”. Remember, as I said before – you reap what you sow; sow a trusting, well-rounded and equal culture, and your organisation will soar.