Best working life in Europe is a joint effort

In Finland, there’s a strong tradition of reaching agreements, and this goes also for the labour market and pension system. The country has set itself a goal: to make Finnish working life the best in Europe by 2020.

The Finnish financial sector has taken the challenge seriously. Last time the sector negotiated its collective labour agreement, a new form of collaboration was added to the contract. Employees and employers would, together, begin to contemplate ways to improve productivity, competitiveness and employee wellbeing.

Just like other industries, the financial sector is facing challenges brought about by digitalisation and changes in customer behaviour. Services are wanted through digital channels regardless of time and location, but personal attendance is still appreciated. If the sector cannot meet these expectations, competitors will reach them first – and then run past. In the end, it’s a matter of saving jobs.

We got onto it hands-on. Sat around the same table, employers and employees have been discussing the changes needed in working life and the concerns these changes might raise. At the same time, we have collected (again, together) best practices from different workplaces to ease the workload for everyone. This includes different types of remote work, trial runs of working on Saturdays and talk about how to reduce the strain of using digital devices.

It’s crucial to genuinely listen to the needs of both parties; it’s not more complicated than that. Often the two sides listen to each other only when they’re negotiating – if even then – and, at worst, with threats of industrial action. Arguing hardly leads to development, but together we can reach all kinds of great things. Such as the best working life in Europe.

Originally published at Finpro’s Good News From Finland service