Solita as an employer: How do we support work-life balance?

Terhi Jaakonsaari HR Director, Finland, Solita

Published 18 Nov 2022

Reading time 4 min

Work-life balance at Solita means that every employee can truly trust, that whatever comes across, there is flexibility at work. Change is constant in working life, and often we face situations where we need to rearrange meetings, ways of working or even project teams when employee’s needs change. There is nothing strange about that. When the atmosphere at the work community is open, and employees are seen as whole persons, it’s easier to talk openly about challenges and stress factors without fear or bad conscience.

We all construct our days from different pieces, and the way we experience stress or busyness can variate daily. The entity that our days form in the long run creates our experience of balance. It would be important that people would find the kind of state that suits them the best. A state, where they feel well, and different aspects of their lives are in somewhat harmony.

Finding work-life balance and supporting employee’s wellbeing is easier when the company culture is human-centred, and work is only seen as one part of life. A holistic approach to people and life begins from the leadership principles at Solita. “Know your people” is one of these principles. It means that team leaders’ job is to know their team members well enough so that it’s possible to consider their needs and life situation at work. When we see people as individuals, and we don’t try to put them all into the same box, the prerequisites for wellbeing are better.

Practices that support holistic wellbeing at Solita

We have built several practices and processes around wellbeing and work-life balance at Solita. One important starting point is self-knowledge. When we understand ourselves and our needs, it becomes easier to set boundaries. Self-knowledge often also increases the ability to understand others. We have sought to increase this skill by self-management training that we have offered for several years already. In addition, we have an in-house coach who is available for people in any kind of challenging situation.

Solitans can also use a wide selection of psychology and mental well-being services. People can, for example, participate in online training, that cover any wellbeing topic from sleeping problems to stress or crisis at home. During the corona pandemic, our people have used these services a lot, and we have received good feedback about them.

Flexibility related to time and location has been part of our culture for years already. People can perform their tasks when it best suits them – as long as team-work runs smoothly. People can plan their days, for example, in a way that they work four hours in the morning and four hours in the evening. Since corona, the flexibility at Solita has increased even more, and people could basically work from anywhere.

For families with small kids, we provide an opportunity to get a nanny if the kid gets sick. We also have family mentors, who support our employees before, during and after the family leave. Several people are doing part-time work, and there is no specific reason required for that. Right now, around 70-80 solitans are working shorter weeks, some of them because of kids, some for other reasons.

Culture creates the foundation for balance, but everyone needs to know their boundaries

Wellbeing and setting boundaries are also individual responsibilities, but as a workplace, we can do a lot to make it easier for everybody. That’s why we talk a lot about wellbeing, and we try to make it transparent for everyone that people don’t need to be alone with their worries or tiredness.

Since the pandemic started, we have increased practicalities that support health and balance: everything from short information sessions to training. By information and openness, we want to build a culture, where wellbeing is a value. People need to feel safe to speak up if the stress levels are too high or if they are tired. When we can spot the stress factors early, it’s easier to turn the direction.

Sometimes small things matter. We have discussed that leaders shouldn’t send emails in the evenings. Or if they for some reason have to, then they should clarify that no one expects answers in the evening. Of course, people are allowed to work longer days, if it suits their situation and feels good.

There are many variables when building a workplace that supports wellbeing and balance. Leadership and culture create a foundation where everything starts. Then we can develop practices and measures that make it possible for us as a company to foster employees’ wellbeing and work-life balance. Finally, it’s everyone’s responsibility to speak up and communicate about their feelings and needs. When you know yourself and your boundaries, and when you feel that the surrounding culture is safe; the set-up for building balanced (work)life should be pretty good.

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