Support to employees during
the COVID-19 pandemic
In Finnish Customs, both those employees who have to work from distance and
those who are working “in the field” in the ports, at the borders and at the
airports are facing new challenges.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, new tools are introduced to support the
Tailor-made information, on-line training and psychological support about
how to cope with the new situation are available on a special site on the
Employees can also suggest topics that they would like to discuss in one-hour
webinars “A Moment for Well-being” that are implemented together with
external experts once a month. After the events, videos of the experts’
presentations can be seen on the intranet. Events have been very popular,
around 100 employees participating in each.
A full-time well-being at work specialist is coordinating the activities in the
Role of managers in
well-being at work
Managing from distance is a new requirement for many managers.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, working from distance was already in use in
Finnish Customs. However, the amount of employees in distant work grew
sharply in March 2020.
Managers’ role is to support the employees’ in fulfilling their tasks, to secure the
overall performance of the organization and to maintain positive working
It is crucial to give full support also to the managers:
Management Board has set common and clear rules for distant working
in the whole organization
Training Unit is organising training in distant management and leadership
(on-line course on Distant Management available)
HR is providing coaching and other individual support to managers when
Checklist for managers on intranet
Make sure that all employees working from distance know their tasks
Agree on the ways of communication during the distance working
period. Organize common meetings and virtual gatherings to the
whole team – e.g. reporting on the current situation - once a week
(15-30 minutes) and more informal gatherings every week (virtual
Keep in contact regularly also with each employee individually – at
least once in every 1-2 weeks.
When people are working in isolation,
there is an increased need for dialogue and motivation!
Why is well-being at work important?
Well-being at work is a result of fair and motivating management and
leadership, of a safe working environment and of open and good
working athmosphere where employees have possibilities to develop
Well-being increases the employee’s commitment to the organization
Employee who feels well is more productive, satisfied and innovative
than an employee who is ill/feeling bad
Exhausted or frustrated employees might not be willing to utilize their
competences and know-how to the fullest to benefit the organization,
which eventually will be visible in customer service (inside and
outside the organization)
In labour competition situations, the significance of well-being at
Tools used for measuring the well-being
In Finland, Ministry of Finance is providing the public sector institutions with a
common tool to measure once a year the well-being at work of its employees. A
common tool VMBaro makes it also possible to compare the situation inside one
organisation, with the whole public sector and with the Finnish working life in
-> When the results of the VMBaro survey are published, a process is started
in Customs to make together with the employees a Well-being at Work
Development Plan. The objectives are prioritized and plans are made to
reach concrete results in the chosen development topics. Every working
community makes their own plan. HR unit launches and follows the process
and collects the plans.
In June 2020, an additional Webropol survey concerning the employees’
experiences about working from distance due to the COVID-19 pandemic was
carried out in Customs.
-> Based on the survey results, all supportive activities were evaluated.
Special Adviser in HR