Taking ownership to enhance the working environment
Together we’re stronger and achieve even more impressive results. And as the 185X campaign is winding down, we wanted to finish off the anniversary year by showcasing some of our awesome teams. This story is about one of them.
Imagine a warm summer day; the sunshine reaches you through the office window and you feel energised for the opportunities the day brings. Being a rather new face in the company, you are keen to learn and meet like-minded people – just not sure how and where this would happen.
This state-of-mind brought together a few Finnish trainees who – using their entrepreneurial hearts – kicked off a community that they were missing at work: a group that gathered together young Wärtsilians based in Finland. They felt motivated and empowered to start building this community on their own, and there was no need for any upper level approvals or commands. At first, the founding members of the community kicked off some informal afterwork activities which provided a place to get to know other Wärtsilians.
There are currently four members in the coordinating team of Young Wärtsilians (YW) group: Ella Teperi, Milla Kuutti, Markus Fant and Juho Kosola. “Our goal since we established the group in June 2018 has been to have fun, bring people together and support the professional growth in the network. Nowadays, we arrange both formal and informal events – as people are interested in both workshops and, let’s say, for example, yard games,” Markus tells.
In practice, Young Wärtsilians in Finland refers to an online community where like-minded Wärtsilä colleagues have joined together. It is noteworthy that the adjective ’young’ refers purely to people who are young at heart.
“This group has no age limits or rules about the topics we can discuss. We have now about 330 members in the online platform and everyone can choose whether they want to be actively involved or for example just get mental support by reading the discussions of others. I hope we’ve managed to build a trustworthy spirit where there is no fear of losing your face no matter what you’d ask or say,” Markus describes the group spirit.
Circle of trust
Besides gathering people together, this channel is the place for the coordinating team to announce upcoming events. Anyone else can also promote interesting events or webinars in the group or start a conversation – basically about anything. “For example, one new trainee joined the group and asked if anyone would join her for a lunch. It was her first day at Wärtsilä and there were immediately several eager volunteers joining the lunch. That was cool,” Milla tells.
Even if people in a global company are used to get connected virtually, there is still a need for local events. For this reason, the Young Wärtsilians’ programs in the cities of Helsinki, Vaasa and Turku are managed separately. “Of course, we often arrange opportunities to join our events online – but it also makes sense to have purely local events. When everyone is physically and mentally present, it creates unique meeting places to strengthen the local community. In Finland, we have multiple colleagues who have moved here from other countries, and especially they value meeting colleagues with whom to hang out both in the office and after office hours,” Ella describes the events arranged by the coordinating team. One of the most successful events, Wärtsilä Stories, took place in Helsinki early 2019 when experienced Wärtsilians told about their careers to the younger generations.
Arranging these events is of course an additional task for the coordinating team but it doesn’t feel burdening as the work load spreads evenly, there are local volunteers helping and the regular team meetings are efficient to keep the wheels running.
”All of us in the coordinating team are motivated and have a joint agenda. Even if our meetings are fun, we keep the focus,” Ella says, and Juho continues from there, “We have a strong trust on each other and dare to throw in any idea during our brainstorming sessions. And what we agree in the meetings, gets done.”
Feedback from the events has been positive, and the coordinating team is pleased that also other YW members are taking ownership by actively suggesting new events to the coordinating team and guiding how to enrich the existing community. In addition, the YW group is now widely recognised by various Wärtsilä teams in Finland, and there is a lot of collaboration and synergies.
“Colleagues use the online channel to provide our young experts public speaking opportunities, ask us to join events as well as ask for our help in organising them. We’ve for example hosted some Italian trainees who came to visit our Vaasa office – and that then grew into a bigger cultural training,” Markus tells.
“It’s strange but we’ve actually never met face-to-face with this YW coordinating team. Still, we’ve been able to build a strong sense of belonging,” Juho tells when asked about what he personally gets from the YW network. “Wärtsilä didn’t have this kind of organised community in Finland and we found establishing it important. The best part has been networking with colleagues – both getting to know them better and meeting completely new colleagues from other functions,” Milla adds.
Coming to work is indeed nicer when you have friends across the organisation. But what is it that pulls these people together, what makes one join Young Wärtsilians in Finland -group? “I believe the community attracts people who are innovative, social and willing to make a difference,” Juho describes. In addition, these people seem to feel positively towards the work culture transformation. ”Nowadays, we expect our jobs to provide us something more than work – we seek to find a like-minded community,” Markus describes.
Juho agrees with this thinking adding, “I believe we young Wärtsilians want our jobs to be meaningful and provide comradeship; work life is not anyhow isolated part of our lives. I think we have also seen how the YW community is feeding our creativity – giving us something we can benefit both at work but also elsewhere.”
In this regard, it sounds there are multiple opportunities to be grabbed thanks to the young-at-heart-generations. As the YW community is strengthening the culture of openness; where innovations and ideas have room to grow, the coordinators hope that the potential within young people got fully used. “The young generations bring with them a huge potential to drive transformation – it is up to the companies whether they utilise it in their endeavors towards continuous improvement,” Milla states.
Indeed, the YW team has shown their potential by taking ownership and proactively fixing things that have been incomplete. Still, there are some milestones that YW coordinators wish to reach.
“Our long-term plan is to join the Finland Young Professionals association where we’d be able to network with young talents working in other companies. Before that, we’re more than happy to give tips to our Wärtsilä counterparts elsewhere in the world, so they can kick off similar networks of their own,” Milla concludes.