Saara Tikkanen

Work wellbeing is built everyday

Saara Tikkanen – Edenred’s Head of People and Culture

How many times have I heard that it is difficult for an employer to really influence the wellbeing of an employee. That wellbeing is much more than just a sport voucher. In creating employee experience hygiene factors are a bit like a zero-level stuff compared to more valuable employee motivating factors such as meaningfulness, effectiveness, or self-realization.

In this black-and-white way I also thought some time ago until I started to see the situation more comprehensively – just as modern welfare is luckily seen today. After all, the best result can be accomplished if you at first get the basics right. Could the same be referred to the wellbeing support at work? These basic things include: good management work, clear goals and feedback, as well as everyday choices for exercise, nutrition, recovery and social wellbeing.

What kind of break culture do you have?

Why is it so often thought that we recover only during our free time and weekends? We should pay more attention to recovering on workdays as we frequently spend at least 8 hours at the work place. Even the shortest breaks support the wellbeing. Researcher Marjaana Sianoja argued about the benefit of breaks and was able to demonstrate the following criteria for good and recovering break:

  • breaks are held every working day
  • the duration is long enough
  • breaks are separated from work
  • employee leaves work place during the lunch break
  • employee is free to decide where to spend breaks
  • break includes both exercising and relaxation

A study by the University of Tampere found that having a lunch break 4-5 times a week contributes to wellbeing and has a significant impact on coping with work and work efficiency. As I have noticed, that is exactly how we spend lunch breaks in Edenred – we enjoy the healthy lunch outside the office every day in different groups of people, and on these breaks we usually laugh and don’t talk about work. A small walk to the restaurant and back enhances the whole body’s metabolism and improves the blood circulation.

Our office also supports having breaks: Our own supplement at office brings the wellbeing to it: Fitwood’s wallbars and sticks help to energize our bodies, an electric desk gives us an alternative to sit or stand and also we can take a detour on stairway from our office on 8th floor and back. All the employers should start thinking what kind of break culture the company has; are employees encouraged to take recovering breaks and eat outside the office during workdays?

Fitwood puolapuut

Corner for recovering break at Edenred’s office

How to activate the employees that don’t exercise?

We all know that exercising relieves stress, improves concentration and creativity and affects positively both short and long term memory. However, there is always an issue to activate the people that are most passive in sport and exercising. Those that are most active will do sports anyway. But how an employer can influence to what extent do workers engage in physical activity? Well, by supporting the sport and physical activity by offering sport benefit, organizing joint workouts and physical training for different categories of working groups, keeping the walking sessions and setting the common goals or incentives. It is about creating stabile structures rather than conjuring up sessions every once in a while.

Peuramaa Ski - Edenred Finland talviurheilupaiva

The office attended the ski resort on a Friday afternoon. As a result, the entire team felt refreshed before the weekend started.


Recovery and wellbeing on free time

Employer can support employee’s mental and social wellbeing by providing the recreational benefit. Concerts, art exhibitions, cinema and hockey matches… All of these contribute to the recovery from work, reduce stress hormone levels and positively affect blood pressure. Brain researcher, professor Minna Huotilainen, points out that the employer can also support the workers wellbeing by respecting their free time. Work is not done late in the evenings or on weekends.

There are also other ways to support the recovery. At Edenred we found out that first of all the staff needed help with sleep and recovery. That’s why in addition to our  lunch, sport and culture benefit and sports club events, we started Hintsa Performance Welfare Training. The aim of the training is to create permanent habits with small changes through lectures, personal coaching and digital application. It is exciting to see what we have achieved next spring.

Edenred henkilöstö salilla

The sport team organized a training at Optimal Performance.

What does the future look like?

I was reading Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2018 top 10 trends report and results of Accountor’s HR2020 report which suggested what will be the priorities for HR-professionals in future. Can you guess what appeared in both tops? (Working) wellbeing, development and wellbeing in future jobs. Wellbeing is at the heart of culture and strategy. So, could it be possible that the personnel benefits offered by the employer, such as lunch, sport and culture, could be seen as more strategic wellbeing decisions, corporate culture and value choices, that allow the wellbeing in everyday life.

The employer can’t tell how employees should eat, exercise and sleep. Instead, they can provide the right tools for the workers to make good choices and create wellbeing structures and everyday life processes.


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Read more about sport and culture benefit

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