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The No. 1 benefit that keeps people happy at work, says exec in Finland

In Business
June 09, 2024

Finland is the happiest country in the world, and at one Finnish company, worker happiness comes down to one major benefit: flexibility.

That’s the case at Framery, a manufacturing company that makes soundproof pods for office spaces. Every year, the company surveys its roughly 400 employees about the most important things that keep them happy and engaged at work.

The concept of work-life balance is always No. 1 or No. 2, says Anni Hallila, Framery’s head of people and culture.

And in order to provide that balance, she says company leaders actively support flexibility in their employees’ work schedules and break times.

“It’s completely normal that you can mix your personal life and work life” in how you structure your workday and workweek, Hallila says. “If you need to take your kids to day care in the morning, you can start your day earlier, or you can come later if you need to go home for them in the middle of the day.”

The Framery office doesn’t have set hours, she says, but people generally arrive between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and are gone by late afternoon. “It’s normal to leave work at 4 o’clock,” she says.

By law, Finland’s standard workweek is 37.5 hours, but as Framery leaders see it, employees can work with their managers to figure out how that breaks down each day.

On the rare occasion that someone’s schedule is negatively impacting their team’s work, Hallila says it becomes a conversation with their manager to make adjustments.

Otherwise, “you can do six hours today, eight hours tomorrow, and that’s completely fine,” Hallila says. “We give a lot of freedom for people to balance their overall work hours. We trust that they will do the work. That’s the most important thing, that they will get things done. It’s not about the hours — it’s about the results.”

Leaders also support regular breaks throughout the day. For example, Hallila says staffers are encouraged to take an hour-long break once a week for exercise, whether it’s for a walk or to use the company’s onsite gym.

“If someone goes out for a walk during the workday, we don’t think ‘oh they’re slacking off or being lazy,'” Hallila says. “It’s really that they’re taking care of their focus and being smart about how they balance their mental health.”

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