All the employees at Posti to see themselves as participants in the company’s story
Sari Jauhiainen and Veera Vaarnamo carried out a customized student business project for the postal services company Posti, a partner company of the School of Business. Frank Martela (PhD, DSS), a University Lecturer at the Aalto University School of Science, whose specialities include the study of the meaningfulness of work, directed the two in their project.
In early 2021 Posti introduced a new purpose, strategy, and values for its activities. With its new strategy, Posti is seeking growth in its distribution and logistics business activities at a time that the amount of paper mail continues to decrease. At Posti there was a need to understand how employees delivering morning newspapers have accepted the entirety of the new strategy, and how they have internalised it as part of their own work.
The project analysed the feelings, thoughts, and perceptions of employees about the new Posti strategy through individual interviews. The aim was to better understand if the employees experienced themselves as participants in the new phase of the Posti story and what reasons might lurk in the background of those experiences.
Based on an analysis of the interviews, the students produced recommendations for action aimed at the kind of leadership and communications that would support a sense of participation among early delivery personnel. The findings in the report showed that newspaper deliverers are a group of employees who like to work independently, and whose experience of participation can be promoted through measures such as open and well-targeted communications and by developing communications between the deliverers and their superiors.
‘Much has been achieved using scant material in a short time, as well as very concrete, practical, and certainly quite fitting recommendations. Much can be gleaned from this for a long time when we get a chance to really chew it over,’ says Head of Communications Timo Nurmi, who is responsible for strategic and responsibility communications at Posti.
Teaching students about the work of a consultant
Sari Jauhiainen, who studies information and service management, says that the project increased her understanding about how people's values, thoughts, and actions relate to each other in the context of work. ‘It was great to be given the chance to lead semi-structured deep interviews. The project gave me a better understanding of participation themes and, for example, how important good management work, open communications, and the possibility to wield influence really are. The project also taught what consultation for a big company and the drafting and arguing on behalf of recommendations for action can be,’ says Jauhiainen, who is interested in a career as a consultant.
Veera Vaarnamo, who majors in entrepreneurship and innovation management, agrees with Jauhiainen, adding that finding a suitable work partner is important for the success of a research project: ‘It was wonderful to experience working as the partner of a person with whom a common understanding of the goals of the work was established immediately. Sari and I are very different in the kinds of personae we are, and in terms of our skills and knowledge. However, in this project we are an excellent pair for seeking out and finding information for Posti on how participation is experienced among early deliverers.’
Frank Martela feels that the project was interesting because turning strategy and values into reality in a big organisation is always challenging. How can every employee be helped to experience themselves as participants in a bigger story? ‘An additional challenge for early deliverers is that they work quite independently and alone in the hours of night with little direct contact with the rest of the organisation.’
‘The students succeeded in their interviews in establishing a trusting connection with the early deliverers, and they expressed their current situation and challenges well. Sari and Veera also offered concrete methods for the company, with whose help Posti might strengthen the sense of participation among early deliverers,’ Martela says.
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