MyFondia VirtualLawyer
November 13, 2019

What kind of a mark do you want to leave on working life?

There is a lot of discussions these days about the ecological footprint of companies and consumers, and about what kind of a footprint their activities leave on the planet.

For several years now, it has been trendy to try to reduce the burden on the environment by making choices that support sustainable development. We no longer make these choices just because they are ‘in’, but because we want to.

Studies show that each adult spends more than 30 years of their life at work, making it a huge part of our lives. Still, you rarely hear people think about what kind of a mark they want to leave on working life. What if we all heard the uncensored feedback from our colleagues about what kind of person, colleague or manager we are perceived to be at the workplace. This could have a big impact on our future behaviour and allow us to internalize the fact that we are all responsible for the well-being of the workplace through our actions and behaviour.

An unwell employee becomes expensive

According to a study a few years ago by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, poor work-related well-being costs Finland 41 billion euros every year. Every company should be aware that an employee who feels well is more profitable than an unwell worker. A person’s well-being is not only reflected in their work, but also in their free time. At the same time, poor mental health is a burden on working life, and often problems are caused by misinterpretations and misunderstandings. Many problems can be improved through open discussion, including those at work.

The key to responsible working life is openness

We should all consider what kind of mark we want to leave in the workplace. Not many managers want to be remembered for shouting at their subordinates like a megalomaniac. Nor do I think anyone wants to be remembered as an unhappy person who never greeted their colleagues. Most people would probably like to be remembered as a friendly, transparent person who cares about other people. Still, in many workplaces, people are mean to each other or behave inappropriately towards one another on a daily basis. Usually, people’s bad behaviour at work is unintentional and not motivated by a conscious desire to hurt others. Poor well-being increases in these workplaces and so do various mental health and coping problems. Poor work-related well-being tends to be focused on certain individuals, be it your immediate supervisor, the management or your colleagues.

There is a fairly easy and inexpensive solution to workplace problems, as the keys are found in openness and talking. When management and supervisors set the example with their openness to talk about difficult issues, it is easy for others to follow suit. Then we can all be remembered at work as transparent and caring people, regardless of whether we are colleagues, supervisors or management. As an employment law expert, workplace mediator and supervisor, I believe that by doing so we will also leave a more positive mark on working life.