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Heini Karjala: Happiness as center of gravity

Energy and Wellbeing Specialist Heini Karjala’s main task is to create positive working environments where individuals can thrive. “When people are well, they shine,” she says.

Heini Karjala is a real powerhouse of a person. She puts a lot of effort into making the workplace more empathic and caring and brings an aura of positivity to the team.

She’s clearly in the right job. As Energy and Wellbeing Specialist she fosters people’s happiness through mental and physical wellbeing at work.

“I have always had a passion to shake people to develop the best version of themselves. On the way, you can find happiness and calmness. Happy people are more productive, creative and successful at work,” Heini states.

She’s working with wellbeing-related trainings, developing tools for coping with stress at work and supporting people in time management. Heini is also the company’s safety chief and leads the occupational safety and health organization. You can even find her guiding weekly yoga sessions at the office.

Putting happiness into action

Heini joined Bilot, now part of Vincit, in 2016 as administrative coordinator. As the company and the people operations team grew, she was able to focus more on what motivated her the most - developing wellbeing at work.

Wellbeing has always been a natural part of Heini’s life. By the age of 18 she was leading group exercise classes and later studied to become a personal trainer. She has always enjoyed working with people and has experience in leading a team in fashion retail.

“The word ‘career’ doesn't resonate with me. I would rather talk about a path, where I have followed my heart. During my maternity leave, I started to ponder the question of what I would really love to do. My spouse was working at Bilot, so I was familiar with the company and the people and knew that culturally we were a good fit. When the right job opened up, I jumped at the opportunity,” she shares.

Alongside work, Heini has completed certificates in work ability management and development of work communities and wellbeing at work. She’s currently training to be a yoga teacher.

Wellness mentors lead by example

At her company employees’ wellbeing is supported by comprehensive occupational healthcare services and perks such as activity and lunch vouchers. The offices are designed to enjoy the social side of work. Her employer also provides flexible telecommuting possibilities and organizes social outings, sports clubs and team events.

Wellbeing at work is also developed by employees themselves. Heini was a project manager for a program, in which 15 employees were trained as their colleagues’ wellness mentors in 2021. She’s also one of the mentors. The network of mentors shares practical tools for enhancing work-life balance, coping in challenging life situations or making lifestyle changes, among others.

“Even small changes can increase wellbeing in everyday life. Based on pulse queries, wellness mentors were perceived as very important to the work community. There is definitely need for this kind of mentoring also in the future,” Heini says.

Letting go of perfectionism

As a mother of two, Heini praises her employer’s working time flexibility that provides the freedom to adapt working hours to meet personal needs. Another tool for facilitating work-life balance is the possibility to reduce working hours. Heini’s working hours have varied between 60% and 93%, depending on her life situation.

Employees hold leisure in high regards. The employee survey indicates that work doesn’t typically spill over to evenings or weekends.

“The biggest challenges in expert work are that there are a lot of meetings and the constant sense of urgency. Juggling with multiple projects and moving from one project to another also bring challenges to everyday life.”

Heini reminds that everyone is in control of their own time and energy. “It is important to find your own limits and ways to manage the use of your energy. All your energy should not be eaten up by work.”

She admits that this is not always as easy as it sounds. For herself it is sometimes a struggle to find balance between motherhood, work and taking some time for herself. “Letting go of a thought that you should be perfect in every aspect of life helps,” Heini reminds.

Letting all flowers bloom

Warm, relaxed, fun, open and spontaneous. This is how Heini describes the atmosphere at work. “People dare to be themselves. You don’t need to fit the mould, which is a big deal for your wellbeing,” she says.

Heini says the most motivating part of her job is cooperating with people and creating a common culture.

“Remote work is here to stay, and we need to find new ways to create a common culture and attract encounters. If we don’t, people feel isolated – solo entrepreneurs rather than part of the team. Especially during organizational changes and uncertainty, it is so important that someone is asking how you are doing.”

Digital solutions make everyday life easier and free our time for self-actualization. What they can’t replace is the warmth and humanity.

“I’m here for the people. I consider having succeeded in my work, if I make someone happy and smile.”