Solita Culture – Part 6: Humane working culture and healthy business – do they go hand in hand?

Outi Sivonen Chief Human Resources Officer, Solita

Published 01 Nov 2022

Reading time 4 min

The topics of the blog series will be diving into diversity, autonomy and professionalism, freedom of opinions and courage, experiments and learning, an easy-going atmosphere, and putting life and people first in modern work culture.

Putting life and people first sounds obvious – what else would you then put first? At least in business where the only asset is the people. Making sure employees feel well, have a decent work life balance, and are willing to speak up is an underlying prerequisite, if you want your business results.

But still, at least I get these questions like “well how about the profitability targets then – don´t they overrule the people wellbeing?”

It’s both business and people – not either or

I argue that all the following actions both increase the employees’ experience of putting life and people first – and the profitability of the company.

Having discussions on expectations and outcomes, setting understandable and shared KPI´s and following these together – creates clarity of expectations which is said to be one of the most important measures of work wellbeing.

Starting only the things/projects that make sense – things and projects that are both relevant and profitable. Of course – something might be relevant and profitable either in the long or short term– but at some point, it should be.

Stopping the things/projects that don´t make sense – who would want to do something that does not make sense, is not relevant and is not profitable? Not in the short or especially in the long term?

Having joint discussions on business, market outlook, current situation, and future scenarios – Having adult-adult discussions together is professional, creates feeling of safety and makes different choices more understandable.

Talking about money – plain and simple. How much do we want to invest, why, what is the value, and what other aspects there are? We all need to think of these things also at home, so why not at work?

On human behavior – and humane aspect

I don´t think that hiding the money talks and discussions on profitability increases the employee wellbeing – quite the opposite. At Solita we emphasise the people aspect in our leadership principles. One of them states “When I make a decision, I consider its impact systematically from the perspective of 1) customer 2) our business and 3) people, 4) now and 5) in the future.” This means that there are many aspects – which are not fighting with each other.

However, it is typical that we tend to think that profitability overrules the humane aspect if we see a company culture which

  • cherishes and rewards people who work 80 hours a week
  • gives bonuses based solely on individual performance at the expense of others (or any common work, helping others etc.)
  • promotes badly behaving individuals based only on their business performance
  • leaves people to cope alone with their wellbeing

We can all see where this kind of sub-optimisation leads to. It ruins the culture and thus the profitable business (and people´s lives).

We need to be able to talk about also these cultural topics – be it easy or hard – and that in turn requires psychological safety at work. Who wouldn’t think that feeling safe at work is good for people and business?

For me, it means that everything can be discussed and there are no topics we should avoid. Be it easy or difficult. These reflections, like the one of my colleague’s Senior Service Designer Sanna Laitinmäki are the essence of humane working culture.

“Psychological safety means to me; I can be who I am. People care about me – they are asking how you are and how you feel.”

Making it discussable

These reflections don´t mean that all the topics and discussions are always easy. They mean that in a workplace, where people are the priority, we all share the right to be seen and heard. We all share the responsibility of listening and making responsible choices from a human perspective. What those decisions then are for different people – that is what needs to be discussed and decided together.

At Solita we want to make things discussable, which requires the above-mentioned psychological safety, and a joint context.

One example of making complex things discussable are our open-to-all “Leading Customer Work” sessions, where we bring in the joint context (customer example, different each time), the people working in it – and then share what it means for different people, how project leads and customer leads work together, what is easy, what is hard. How do people feel about the customer’s work setting, what are the experiences and how are they shared. We make the intangible discussable, to be able to improve it and help people be seen and heard. That is what having a humane aspect means.

We are constantly looking for new colleagues to join our caring community! Take a look at our open positions!

Read all parts of Outi’s culture blog series

Part 1: Come as you are

Part 2: Autonomy and professionalism

Part 3: Freedom of opinions and power of words in the organisation

Part 4: Learning is a skill – and it can be learned

Part 5: An easy-going cultural atmosphere embraces love over fear  

Part 6: Humane working culture and healthy business – do they go hand in hand?