Leadership and workplace culture: Increasingly good management

Management was not easy during the exceptional conditions, but regardless of this our leadership has improved, according to two surveys. Similarly, positive developments have taken place in occupational well-being. 

The staff experience with management has improved notably. We assessed our staff members’ feelings regarding the City’s reformation and occupational well-being through two surveys, the Pulse of Renewal and Kunta10.

Although the year was an exceptionally challenging one for our management, the staff experience of the quality of the leadership and the supervisors’ work improved notably. In particular in the Kunta10 survey, the coaching leadership index rose significantly from the previous survey level (68.8 → 73). 

It should be noted, in particular, that the results of all divisions and municipal enterprises – even those most affected by the coronavirus crisis – improved.  

This was because of the work we have tenaciously been carrying out for the past few years throughout the city organisation. At the same time, we can be proud of the passion and motivation with which our supervisors safeguarded our staff members’ well-being and ability to cope during the pandemic year. This will form a solid foundation for our future success.  

Occupational well-being improved clearly  

In addition to the leadership indicator, all the other renewal and occupational well-being ones improved in the staff surveys. Our employees are more engaged than before, they feel that their work is more meaningful and would increasingly recommend the City as an employer. 

This positive trend is built on the fact that our work has meaning and is based on values: we work every day of the year so that Helsinki’s residents can feel good.  

The number of sick leave days increased somewhat. However, recovery from work is better than before, there are fewer experiences with harassment and discrimination, and an increasing number of people believe that they will be able to continue working until they reach the pension age.

What is particularly positive is that despite the difficult pandemic year, the results remained good even amongst those employees who were transferred to new roles. Furthermore, remote work increased work satisfaction significantly. 

One discussion, big impact 

Despite the positive results, we still have plenty of work to do. The cross-organisational collaboration needs to be developed further, and this is something we can all influence. 

When it comes to occupational well-being, special attention must be paid to the stress experienced by employees under 30 and their ability to recover from work. We must also remember that the success discussions have a notable, positive effect on how well people understand our strategy and are able to enjoy their work, and, ultimately, how meaningful our employees think their work is.  

One of the key elements of success management is staff induction and competence. Therefore, we have reformed our induction processes and implemented new induction tools as part of the Onni system. 

Together with our divisions, we have identified the areas in which we still need to improve our skills. We chose digital competence and customer-centred service competence for piloting our new processes. The pilot will continue until the beginning of February 2021.  

Ethical principles as a basis for our workplace culture 

The reformations in the divisions have slowly become a normal part of life, and we were able to focus better on things that bring coherence to leadership and the work culture in the entire city organisation. 

In particular, we wanted to promote a uniform staff experience and, ultimately, customer experience. However, we kept in mind that work and management can take different forms in various parts of our organisation.  

At the heart of our workplace culture was the City’s ethical principles and the related workplace community discussions. In order to discuss our ethical principles, we developed a tool called Helvi, which helped work communities discuss a theme and create a household code on things that matter to them specifically. 

Ultimately, these ethical principles will form the foundation for the entire City’s workplace culture, and even just the act of talking generates a culture revolving around ethics.  

The cornerstones of leadership are vision, enthusiasm, consistency and implementation ability.

Shared cornerstones of leadership  

Several divisions have determined the type of leadership that is required in order for them to be successful. We began to gather these division-specific themes to identify similarities in the ways in which the City is being run.   

The City employs approximately 2,000 supervisors, and management methods vary widely. However, certain basic elements of leadership are found in different organisations. 

The four cornerstones of the City’s management are vision, enthusiasm, consistency and implementation ability. These cornerstones are based on a strategy, best practices, staff expectations and the latest research. 

In other words, they mean that elements such as building a future Helsinki, a willingness and enthusiasm to lead others, openness and consistency, and, ultimately, decision-making and assessment of the outcomes from the city’s residents’ perspective, are highlighted in the management.   

We published these cornerstones at the City’s first joint Johdossa! supervisor event in November. Over the coming years, they will serve as the spearhead elements of the supervisors’ success management, training and communications.

Development discussions transformed into success discussions

The goal and development discussions that were in use for a long time are now history in our organisation. They have been replaced by success discussions between supervisors and employees about the individuals’ objectives, development and support that they need to do their jobs.

The success discussions are complemented by regular 15-minute discussions, the purpose of which is to support employees and encourage them to achieve their goals.   

The success discussions are an important part of success management. The aim is to enhance the culture of talking in the organisation and promote a proactive approach instead of a reactive one. 

Furthermore, the aim of success discussions is to steer the work in the right direction and ensure suitable conditions for the work in a correctly timed fashion.  

The Onni system that was implemented at the start of the year helps document these discussions. Report templates are available for different types of discussions, which makes it easy to record them and find the reports at a later date, all in one place. 

The Onni system is used by the whole staff body.