In the summer of 2017, the labour market parties made a unanimous decision to merge the Education Fund and the Unemployment Insurance Fund. The goal was to set up a strong and efficient fund.
When the merger project’s implementation phase kicked off in January 2018, one of the endeavours was to highlight the personnel’s views in strategy work from the very beginning.
“The intention was to involve the entire personnel in strategy planning, and to elicit their views regarding a feasible fusion, thus helping us put our strategy successfully into practice”, says Maria-Theresia Westerback, the fund merger project manager.
The two funds had been collaborating extensively for a long time before the merger, e.g. in the field of information management. One of the entities contained in the strategy is, in fact, the capacity to develop systems and processes based on the customers’ needs, in a way that will result in seamless and profitable cooperation in business activities, development and basic ICT service provision. Digitalisation is a change that gives the funds the keys to open new doors to increasingly effective services.
Gaining a better understanding through dialogue
It was a demanding job to involve some 150 people in a strategy building effort for almost a year. The decision was to use a versatile tool kit to accomplish the task. The virtual discussion platform LOGE provided the required tools for building five dialogue entities for the personnel.
In addition to LOGE, several contact workshops were arranged in order to commit the entire personnel to the strategy planning. Furthermore, monthly information meetings were held for the entire personnel to interactively discuss the merger, the progress achieved thus far, and any currently open questions.
As Ms Westerback points out, it was extremely important to advance the merger through dialogue, instead of unidirectional communication.
“People started understanding what a strategy means and what effects it has on everyone’s own work. An increasingly committed group of people emerged and started heading in the same direction.”
Launching a cultural change
Virtual LOGE dialogues conducted in small groups were a new thing for most participants. In general, the personnel had little experience of discussing the development of entire organisation, taking a stand on matters which were not directly connected to their own work.
Dialogue clearly took on momentum following the first group discussions.
“Our personnel found that group discussions are a fun and informative thing, and that personal development ideas really deserve to be expressed”, says Ms Westerback.
What she considers especially important is that the prevailing culture was changed to a permanent degree.
“Change became a shared issue. More than before, people started discussing things when walking along corridors and had more courage to ask questions in meetings held for the entire personnel. An example of this was the wish to use the word WE when expressing the values of the Employment Fund. This is an indication of profound commitment.”
Prepare the basics thoroughly
Appropriate planning is of decisive importance for the success of virtual discussions. The first thing the management must identify are the objectives of change, and the personnel’s digital capabilities.
“It is important to design the strategy process in such a way that the right themes of discussion are processed at the right time. Talent Vectia played a major role when this was planned”, says Ms Westerback.
Secondly, it is important to reserve ample time for the entire personnel to perform the strategy work. It needs be pointed out to the supervisors that daily work must not prevent participation. Similarly, it is necessary to encourage participation of the whole personnel.
“Being uninformed, many people may think that personal participation is meaningless”, Ms Westerback reminds us.
Preparing the ground for new things
The entire personnel participated in planning the merger and producing a new strategy, which has turned the uncertainty of the previous year into a positive and forward-looking attitude.
“People no longer think that organisation-wide matters are somebody else’s business. This is fertile ground for new action”, Maria-Theresia Westerback sums up.
Three tips for using LOGE in strategy work
- Identify your organization’s maturity for dialogue and plan the strategy process accordingly.
- Encourage people to participate and reserve time for discussions.
- Demonstrate that there are genuine opportunities for the personnel to influence strategy work.
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This is the Employment Fund
- In the summer of 2017, the labour market parties made a unanimous decision to merge the Education Fund and the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
- The President of Finland confirmed the amendments required for merging the funds on 27th June 2018.
- The new Employment Fund started its work on 1st January 2019.
- The Employment Fund works to safeguard people’s interests in changing working life situations by funding unemployment benefits and providing education and training support to adults.
- The Employment Fund is an important part of the Finnish social security system with a clientele consisting of all active employers and salary earners in Finland aged 16 to 64 years.