Customs has been following the well-being of its employees by using an on-line tool since 2000. Regular
surveys make it possible to monitor the changes in the well-being and the results of the actions taken after
the previous survey. Today Customs is using the common tool (VMBaro) provided by the Ministry of Finance
to measure the well-being at work of its employees once a year.
The VMBaro Job Satisfaction Survey in an on-line tool to support the management and development of
public sector organisations1
. It is administered by the Ministry of Finance, Public Governance Department.
VMBaro has been in use since 2004 and the upgraded version since 2016.
VMBaro has in total 40 questions that are grouped into eight categories: (1) Management, (2) Content of
work and possibilities to influence, (3) Pay, (4) Skills and competences, learning and updating, (5) Operating
culture of the working community, (6) Working and operating environment, (7) Interaction and
communication and (8) Employer image and values. Organisations can also add their own specific questions
to the survey.
This tool makes it also possible to compare the situation inside one organisation, with the public sector and
Finnish working life in general.
Collecting feedback on distant work
In June 2020, Customs carried out an additional survey on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on its
employees who are working remotely. The objective was to find out how to support the employees in the
best possible ways. The survey was implemented with Webropol and it consisted of the following questions:
1. How have you succeeded in working remotely (in general) on the scale 1-5 (1=not well, 5=very
2. How are the following functioning when working remotely: technology, work processes, work
ergonomy, communication between colleagues, working time management and the balance
between work and private life (scale 1-5)?
3. Open question: Is there something else that you have found good or challenging when working
What results: what were the benefits of the solution, how does it work in practice, lessons learnt
The Well-being at Work Development Plan is prepared after every VMBaro survey (this practice started in
2005). The objectives are prioritised and plans are made to reach concrete results in the selected
development topics. Every working community makes their own plan. If no action is taken after the survey,
the motivation to answer to the next survey drops radically. The HR unit launches and follows the process
and collects the plans.
The advice and support provided to the employees on the intranet can be used whenever a person needs
to get more information or support. The material has turned out to be very useful, as can be illustrated by
the results of the Webropol questionnaire.
According to the feedback, the change to working remotely succeeded surprisingly well. The average of the
answers was 4.2 (5 being the highest). One reason for this may be that Customs had already introduced
distance working before the pandemic, although not on such a large scale. Very high scores were also given
to the questions concerning the functioning of the technology, work processes, communication with
The questionnaire is available here: https://www.vmbaro.fi/images/VMBaro_2020_english.pdf.
working community members, working time management and the balance between work and private life.
The only topic where lower scores were given was work ergonomy.
A lot of feedback was given in the open questions section. Some employees had problems with the IT
connections. Many mentioned missing colleagues and the feeling of working together. Some also had
problems in remembering to have breaks during the working hours. One additional challenge during spring
2020 was that school children had to study at home. Families had to organise new working and studying