Vaasa University of Applied Sciences was involved in an international training in which public sector management skills were developed. As a result, a lot of new know-how and a well-being at work game were created.

When Sanna Saikkonen and Suvi Kallio encountered Brits, Cypriots and Belgians involved in an EU project, they noticed pretty soon that there are differences in the countries' work cultures.

In Finland, well-being at work, as well as mental health as part of working life is discussed quite a lot.

– However, many people noticed during the training that the core issues and challenges are the same in every country. By meeting others, we gained a new perspective on them, says Sanna Saikkonen.

Saikkonen and Kallio lecturers in social and health care, and they represented Vaasa University of Applied Sciences in the international project. In the Erasmus project participated by four countries, the gaming perspective was also tried, and during the training, the Mindful Managers game was developed.

– The intention is that our work also benefits others. That is why the game application is available to everyone in the Google Play store and App Store, hints Suvi Kallio.

The guidebook compiled in the project is also freely available to public sector work communities.

Mindful management

Mindful Managers, in keeping with its name, aims to develop management in the public sector towards a more considerate and mindful direction.

At the same time, the project has striven to dispel prejudices and eliminate shame associated with mental health issues.

The project that has now completed started in 2017. The participants have met four times, and meetings have also been held via a video connection.

In the beginning, research and national analysis were carried out in Finland, Belgium, Cyprus and Great Britain. In this way, project partners gained information from public sector managers about the challenges in their work and about what kind of training they would most need.

– Group dynamics, the impact of employees' values, temperament and learning style on the functioning of the team, as well as leading a work community in a changing environment, were common concerns, says Sanna Saikkonen.

Further development in groups

The training programme was developed on the basis of the analyses carried out and tested with a hundred public sector managers in the partner countries.

– We continued to work in small groups in which we were able to discuss well-being at work in more depth. In section called Reflection Rounds, the participants were able to reflect on their own goals and the means to achieving them, says Sanna Saikkonen.

In total, 131 people from the partner countries participated in the project's training sessions, of which 39 in Vaasa.

– All in all, it was interesting to be involved in a project participated by so many different actors, including consultancy companies and game firms, says Suvi Kallio.

In addition to VAMK, the Mindful Managers project was participated by consultancy company Inova Consultancy, research and development centre Cardet and training and coaching company Obelisk.

Posted on 10/19/2020.