Käytämme evästeitä tarjotaksemme paremman käyttökokemuksen ja henkilökohtaista palvelua. Suostumalla evästeiden käyttöön voimme kehittää entistä parempaa palvelua ja tarjota sinulle kiinnostavaa sisältöä. Sinulla on hallinta evästeasetuksistasi, ja voit muuttaa niitä milloin tahansa. Lue lisää evästeistämme.

Planning a person’s entire work career

In English


Kuvateksti: A head lamp is a familiar instrument for Kalle Leppämäki and co-workers. Under a vehicle one has to observe even the tiniest details

Helping to build a person’s work career requires skilful age management. In today’s turbulent work life structural change is continuous.

At the Veho Co. repair shop of utility vehicles, different generations cooperate to create employment arcs. Inspiring models are looked up to literally at Veho’s utility vehicle repair shop located at Vantaa. A pair of work overalls, ‘frozen’ like a sports memento, are hanging from the ceiling of the hall in memory of a successful work career. The overalls belonged to Seppo, who had worked for 50 years at Veho. His work career is an inspiring example for all the present employees of the repair shop.

– We are like the players of the Finnish national hockey league – our goal is to win the Finnish championship. We have to be the very best, so that our clients will buy a new vehicle from us and will want to make use of our services. And in order to be the best, we must have a motivated, healthy and strong team, says Henri Happonen, supervisor and occupational safety chief.

The employment arc of the repair shop workers is in focus right from their first day at work. When a new employee comes to the Vantaa branch of Veho, he is asked about his expectations and wishes regarding the work, and also where he thinks he will be in five years. Not many young mechanics are able to answer this last question, but according to Happonen, that isn’t even the point.

– The question simply motivates the individual to think about his own employment arc. In the yearly development discussions with the supervisor, the theme is brought up again and plans for the future are up-dated. At the same time we tell the employee what the employer expects from the worker, says Happonen.

Taking the employee’s views into consideration right from the beginning commits the employee to the workplace and creates positive expectations regarding the future. Veho, with a workforce of 2200, is a big and versatile enterprise, so a person’s work tasks may change during the course of his career. For instance, an electrical mechanic may at some stage become a technical advisor at the import unit.

– Our goal is to develop our employees and their expertise, because it benefits both the employer and the employee. The people stay longer in work life, master their work, and are healthy and motivated. This is reflected as successful employment arcs and also as a profitable enterprise, says Happonen.

According to Happonen, a long-term approach is of utmost importance. Human resource development is costly for the employer, if you look at it from the viewpoint of a year or two, but it becomes profitable when a recruited employee stays at Veho for a long time.


Henri Happonen knows that encountering the cultural differences of different-aged workers is also a management issue.

Different-aged partners complement each other

In the supervisor’s opinion, also occupational safety plays an important part in designing a good employment arc. Correct working habits and the use of protectors are necessary, because hazardous substances are handled in the repair shop, and large machine parts are heavy. The pressure inside modern motors is so great that even minute leaks can be dangerous and even fatal. When working with big machines, the worker needs to reach up and to stoop down in awkward positions. The work postures are often very strenuous due to the nature of the work.

– Our motto is that everyone is healthy when they go home in the evening, says Happonen.

The work of older workers cannot be as loading as that of younger ones. On the other hand, the old pros have picked up know-how and skills along the way that is worth sharing with young workers. The apprentice-master model in which different-aged employees form work pairs and teams is used at Veho.

– The older worker constantly advises and instructs the younger one, teaches the correct use of tools, correct working habits, and so on. The young worker follows the experienced one everywhere, except to the toilet, Happonen adds.

Young workers bring along their own skills, especially in the area of information technology. Maintenance chief Markku Rojo explains that even though some of the work tasks in the repair hall have remained the same for years, the importance of information technology has grown considerably in the search and diagnosing of defects. Many of the older mechanics are not familiar with using computers.

The work climate tells a great deal

According to Happonen and Rojo, the other big advantage of having different-aged partners in work pairs is that it creates a positive work culture. Working together and appreciating the partner’s strengths improves the spirit of the work community and increases mutual respect between different age groups. Also students from vocational universities participate in work training at Veho, and they need guidance from experienced workers.

– Encountering the cultural differences of different-aged people is also a management issue. Young employees have to be supervised in a different way than older ones, but both must be treated equally, says Happonen.

In a very male-dominated workplace respecting different-aged employees is not self-evident according to Happonen. He tells about his own experience in a summer job at a machine shop when he was young: there were strong cliques, young workers were growled at, and the use of protectors was considered to be just for sissies. That made going to work very unpleasant.

– Everything boils down to the fact that the work climate is good. In order to achieve a positive work climate, the working conditions must be in order, development opportunities have to be well planned, the team spirit must be good, and persons of different ages need to be respected. A positive work atmosphere manifests itself as the well-being of the personnel and as a profitable business, says maintenance chief Rojo.

– A good work climate ensures that the employee turnover is minimal, and this is an advantage for the employer. It is difficult to find persons who are already skilful and trained for a particular job, so they have to be trained for the task on the spot, he continues.

The ‘Employment arc model’ is a programme that has now been taken into use at the Veho repair shop. Henri Happonen believes that this new tool will make age management and the planning of work careers even better than before.


There isn’t much working space under a big vehicle at Veho’s repair shop. Ville Katajainen is checking a truck carefully.

The work career is seen as an arc, not a straight line

The management of Veho has realized that a work career of many decades forms an arc during which work tasks are developed and changed according to the employee’s abilities and needs. The chairman of the development team of the ‘Employment arc model’ tool, Dr. Jan Schugk, medical specialist at the Confederation of Finnish Industries, says it is important to understand that a person’s work career is essentially an arc.

– One problem of Finnish work life is that right up until retirement, an employee’s work career is seen to proceed linearly as a rising straight line, says Schugk.

– That is why the employment arc of many people breaks off too early. It is believed that lightening the work load and changing the nature of a person’s work near the end of his or her career is humiliating. Also being offered some kind of senior post may be seen as disrespectful. This way of thinking is influenced also by the present salary model, according to which a person’s salary should develop progressively right to the end, he continues.

Schugk defines a good employment arc as a career that serves the employee, the employer, as well as the society. It starts sufficiently early and grows into an arc-shaped, long-lasting work career, perceived as meaningful by the individual and the employer. The employment arc model aims to combine, as well as possible, the human resources that a person has achieved during his or her different ages and stages of life, as well as factors that impair the work career and create risks.

In the public discussion, attention has been focussed on the beginning and end of the employment arc at the expense of the middle part. Schugk feels that this is mostly because the employment level is highest during the middle part.

– Roughly after the age of 45 years, the differences in the physical and mental capacities of individuals begin to grow, and this should be taken into account in deciding work tasks and in career planning. Elderly employees nevertheless have a great deal of experience even if they are no longer as fast and strong, or agile in learning new things as young people, Schugk says.

– The frequently used terms – age programme and age management – are problematic because they remind of the oldest employees. There are many kinds of age, however. Often the professional age is decisive, not the chronological age.

Good age management takes into account the strengths as well as weaknesses of different age groups, and also weaknesses should be discussed openly. This does not mean the labelling of any group of employees; it is honesty, which benefits the whole work community.

Although there are differences between the age groups, there are also many similarities. According to questionnaire surveys, the wishes of different generations regarding their work career are quite similar: the majority want a stable and safe work career. Jan Schugk feels that the differences between the generations are often exaggerated.

Successful employment arcs benefit both individuals and the society. Creating a successful arc requires good employment arc management, and this is the responsibility of supervisors. But in addition, every employee carries responsibility for his or her own employment arc.


Planning work tasks in advance

Successful employment arcs benefit both individuals and the society. Creating a successful arc requires good employment arc management, and this is the responsibility of supervisors. But in addition, every employee carries responsibility for his or her own employment arc.

Schugk uses the work of a meat-cutter to demonstrate the idea. The work is physically exhausting, and many meat-cutters retire prematurely due to work disability caused by musculoskeletal disorders. Is there even any point in planning a work career that consists of meat-cutting or some other physically heavy work from beginning to end? Why not plan a career path which at some stage leads to another type of work within a reasonable time frame in line with the individual’s abilities and physical health?

Often the transfer from physically heavy work to lighter work involves awkward salary-related problems, in other words, less wages. This doesn’t motivate such a change, it rather prompts the employee to apply for work disability pension, if the pension is thought to be attractive enough.

– Many people start working in some job without thinking whether they still want or can even do it until they are 65. They just keep grinding away at it and see if an abrupt stop comes at some stage, says Schugk.

– If a sudden stop does come, it may be hard for the person to start thinking differently about work. For example, it is difficult for a paper factory worker who has done the same routine job for 30 years, to see himself as an entrepreneur when his work ends.

According to Schugk, successful age management means management from the part of the supervisor as well as the employee’s self-management. One has to predict what the future has in store and what it demands.


The field of work at the utility vehicle repair shop ranges from vans to trucks and heavy trailer lorries. The vehicles tailored for different purposes are individuals.

Passing on tacit knowledge to others

In management, creating a good employment arc requires long-term thinking, as at Veho. Continuous development of the personnel is a worthwhile long-term investment. The question of how to pass on tacit knowledge and expertise to others has to be answered near the end of the employment arc.

The guidebook ‘An expert retires – expertise does not!’ published in 2012 describes how to save and transfer tacit knowledge. The publication is based on the ELSA research project of Aalto University, which investigates the recognition, saving and passing on of experience-based tacit knowledge when specialists retire. Altogether 55 retirement cases in 18 different organizations were analysed for the research project.

The recording of knowledge and drawing up of instructions is a concrete way of sharing and passing on knowledge. The charting of knowledge and development discussions (between the supervisor and employee) are important routine tools for recognizing tacit knowledge. Researcher Eerikki Mäki, PhD, who participated in the project points out, however, that not all know-how needs to be transferred.

– The know-how may be out-dated, in which case the specialist’s retirement gives the organization an opportunity to renew its knowledge and expertise capital, says Mäki, who works at the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management of Aalto University.

– It is essential to recognize the know-how that must be saved and passed on. Regardless of the line of work, for instance relations with interest groups are based on knowing people personally and on trust, and creating this kind of relationship network from scratch is slow and laborious.

Mäki explains that the transfer of know-how was successful in those enterprises where the supervisor and the specialist who was about to retire together analysed the possible impact of the retirement on the organization. Sharing and saving the know-how sufficiently early pays itself back in any case. The benefit is evident especially in situations where an employee with special expertise moves over to another organization unexpectedly.

– People want to belong to some social group. That is why it is important for them to know the history of their own organization and to feel that they are a part of its historical continuum. Transferring expertise ensures that stories which are meaningful to the work community remain alive and are a constant source of pride and feeling of togetherness, says Mäki.


Nikolai Hämäläinen (left) and Kalle Leppämäki checking to see how a repair job is progressing. In teams people learn from each other.

Preparing for sudden unexpected changes

There is a danger that the sharing of knowledge remains only as a luxury of more prosperous times. If the organization is struggling with economic problems, or the branch is undergoing intense change, the saving of tacit knowledge and the careful planning of employment arcs may be overlooked.

Structural change is a part of modern work life, even though its effects and intensity vary greatly in different branches of the economy. All in all, the rate of change has accelerated, the changes are rapid and difficult to predict, and the labour market has expanded to a global scale. Professor Pertti Koistinen from the University of Tampere specializes in labour policy; he has found that the planning of employment arcs has become more difficult in unpredictable times for all parties concerned. This puts more pressure on the knowledge and skills of the employees, managers, specialists and political decision-makers.

– As the uncertainty grows, measures to reduce risks should be developed. This concerns political decisions and principles to develop work life in general, says Koistinen, whose book on changing labour markets ‘Työ, työvoima ja politiikka’ (Work, workforce and politics) was published in 2014.

– Tripartite negotiations are traditionally applied in Finland to solve nationwide work life issues, but are also other strategies needed? Are national actions enough for tackling global changes or are international agreements needed?

According to Koistinen, policies concerning work life and labour policy can be used also in the future to guide how Finnish work life develops. Professor Koistinen points out that research on social policy emphasizes the significance of traditional institutions and political guidance.

– We are now investigating the later careers of employees who had earlier been laid off. The results show that the capacity of the Finnish labour market to integrate and re-employ people is better than generally believed, says Koistinen.

– We were surprised to find that a large proportion of the laid-off people had later found relatively permanent employment. This demonstrates that solutions that support workers in the turmoil of change are probably the most effective way to control structural change.

Globalization and internationalization will remain central issues in Finnish work life also in the future.

Internationalization – a challenge also in future

Koistinen stresses the importance of education. A good basic education and continuous complementary training are still the best ways of ensuring job opportunities, and thus a central element of a successful employment arc.

– Education should be a long-term investment, and employers should provide equal economic and social opportunities for different employee groups to participate in training. Labour policy includes also the improvement of employees’ social rights, not merely the promotion of employment, although in an economic crisis it is often understood to be only the latter.

Koistinen believes that globalization and internationalization will remain central issues in Finnish work life also in the future. It will still be essential for us to develop nationally proactive methods and to analyse what kind of choices Finnish work life is ready for.

– Another big question is how to improve the situation of the most vulnerable population groups in order to ensure employment opportunities and social security, and some level of income. These groups include one-person enterprises, free-lancers, creative sector employees such as artists and musicians, and precarious workers. National solutions are significant for them, says Koistinen.