20.6. 2011 Kuukauden kasvo

Sinikka Leino: Discussion connects generations in a working community

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Sinikka Leino started her career in the early 1970s in the financing sector. Working in a bank, first at the Turun Suomalainen Säästöpankki savings bank and finally at a "bad bank", Arsenal, taught her, among other things, that when changing the strategy the company should always consider whether the working community has the expertise required by the new strategy. As we all know, the liberalisation and internationalisation of financial markets did not go quite as planned at least in savings banks at the end of the 1980s.

Ms Leino was employed by Arsenal for five years as the head of training.

"After the recession in early 1990s Arsenal faced challenges in terms of the employees' commitment to the temporary organisation as they did not hesitate to move on to new jobs. Training provided a good way to enhance their commitment back then, as it certainly does even today", Ms Leino says.

She returned to Turku in 1999 to start as a training coordinator at the then Turku Polytechnic.

"Moving back to Turku felt like winning the lottery. I did not feel comfortable in the Helsinki metropolitan area, the distances were long and in relation to the standard of living the salary was not the best possible. Turku is just the right size for me."

At TUAS Ms Leino has since February concentrated on activities connected with research, development and innovations in the Life Sciences and Business unit.

"I support teachers and look for business co-operation projects. Issues relating to workplace well-being, business development and the combining of entrepreneurship and working life as well as teaching are key challenges in my job."

Discussions transfer knowledge

According to Ms Leino, issues concerning workplace well-being have in recent years taken a positive direction. The approach to the issue is now more holistic. Working communities have a longer-term perspective on the future and understand that the company will not survive without investments in the job satisfaction and well-being of its employees. At the same time leadership and managerial skills have been accompanied by organisational citizenship behavior which we need to improve individually.

"The atmosphere and well-being depend on all of us, not just the managers and supervisors. A lot depends on your attitude as you come to work in the morning", Ms Leino reminds.

Ms Leino is worried about the transfer of knowledge from the more experienced employees to the younger employees only just beginning their careers.

"We need to realise that the young people graduating from vocational and higher education institutions bring fresh theoretical knowledge to the workplace. The challenge is to combine their knowledge with the long experience of the older staff."

"Joint forums where juniors and seniors can share ideas are crucially important. Haste and efficiency have in many workplaces reduced discussion, and development days, even if loosely structured, are not enough to ensure sufficient communication which would guarantee the creation of joint understanding between generations."

To prove her point, Sinikka Leino describes how a maintenance organisation decided to give up the common coffee room and place the coffee vending machine in the corridor. As a result, they lost the discussion forum created by the coffee breaks which the employees shared together. They soon discovered that reduced discussion also had a weakening effect on customer satisfaction.

"Companies have realised that workplace well-being is linked to the company's success. Certain sectors still suffer from labour shortage after the recession. It is therefore important to support well-being at work and create a good working atmosphere. Neglecting soft values may also cause potential employees to lose interest in applying for a job in the company."

Rest for the brain

With the summer holiday season underway, many production plants and offices are quietening down. However, unlike in the previous decades, many offices no longer close their doors after Midsummer. The peak of the holiday season has shifted towards the end of the summer like in most European countries, and fewer and fewer offices close their doors completely. Combining the European August and Finnish July has forced many to divide their holiday into shorter periods and to read e-mails and make work-related phone calls even during the holiday. Yet it would be important to be able to stop thinking about work-related issues on holiday.

"Brain researchers are worried about the widespread habit to leave the brain without rest. Latest research results have shown how important it is for the brain to rest, especially if the person's work requires innovative thinking."

In her own work Sinikka Leino tries to practise what she preaches: to avoid excessively long working days, although she is easily absorbed by the rewarding job. Outdoor activities and walks along the River Aura help her relax after work. Sinikka Leino plans to spend her holiday at a summer cottage on the island of Iniö and sailing in the Turku and Åland archipelago.

"By the sea you can forget about work, but on sailing trips you also get to meet new people", says Ms Leino, an active member in voluntary associations.

Sinikka Leino

- Born in Huittinen in 1955

- Vocational Qualification in Business and Administration, Etelä-Satakunnan Kauppaoppilaitos business college, 1975. Specialist Qualification in Management in 2008.

- Moved to Turku in 1975 where she worked in the banking and financing sector until 1993. Then as the head of training at Omaisuudenhoitoyhtiö Arsenal until she was appointed training coordinator at the Turku Polytechnic in 1999. In 2002 she was appointed project manager at the Turku Polytechnic and engaged herself in the development of companies and organisations, and since 1 February 2011 her duties have included RDI operations and the development of working life co-operation.

- Lives in the Martti district in Turku; family includes her partner Pekka.

- Hobbies: sailing, spending time at the summer cottage and taking part in voluntary associations

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