Wood – the green gold of Finland. Trees grow in Finland faster than they are cut down. As a renewable natural resource, timber is a cornerstone of Finnish exports. There is no doubt that the wood industry will retain its value also in future, but will it still appeal to the workforce of the future? At least Koskisen believes it will.
More than 100 years of operations and more than 1,000 employees, more than half of whom have worked for the company for more than ten years. The long employment relationships are a testament to Koskisen’s status as a good and enjoyable place to work.
Koskisen Oy is a family-run wood products company that processes wood into plywood, sawn timber, chipboard and wood-framed houses. With customers in nearly 70 countries, the company’s products are shipped around the world.
According to Koskisen’s HR assistant, Sari Tissari, great efforts are made to ensure that people see the company as an enjoyable and appealing place to work. Even small things make a big difference.
“We always aim for permanent employment contracts. Our wages are also at a reasonably good level. We offer our employees a lot of training and the opportunity for self-development. We also place great importance on their well-being at work and resilience. Staff can go to the local swimming hall for free, and we have our own gym, which they can use whenever they want. We also pay 50 per cent of their exercise and cultural vouchers,” says Tissari.
The Kärkölä mill area has approximately 750 Koskisen employees working in a range of tasks. The average age of the employees is 40.5. Roughly 11 per cent are aged between 55 and 59, which means many will be heading towards retirement in the near future.
When it comes to hiring new employees to replace those about to retire, great care is taken in advance to save, for example, in unnecessary recruitment costs. The aim is for fruitful recruitment to lead to new, long-term employment relationships, and more applications from young people would be a welcome sight.
Koskisen sparks the interest of young people, for example, by engaging with them at various educational and recruitment events. Apprenticeships are also a possibility and can often lead to employment at Koskisen.
“One great thing is that we hire some 30 fire-watch employees every summer during renovation shutdowns. Fire watchers can be as young as 15, which gives young people a great opportunity to learn about the mill environment already when planning their career. Naturally, we hope that they will remember the scent of wood when they make their future study decisions!” says Tissari.
The best marketing is also happy employees who are eager to tell others about their workplace.
“Applicants will often tell us that they know someone or several people in production who recommended that they apply for work at Koskisen,” says Tissari.
One recent applicant and new Koskisen employee is Christa-Carina Asikainen, who has been working at Koskisen’s plywood mill for three months. Asikainen was already familiar with the wood industry, and when the time came to return to the field, she decided to apply for a job at Koskisen, where friends of hers and family members had worked before.
“I have really enjoyed working at Koskisen. The best thing about being here is the training opportunities and the flexibility. For example, work shifts can be easily changed if need be. Also, on the drying machine, where I work, you can really see the versatility of wood: no two pieces of veneer are the same,” says Asikainen.
Tissari says there continues to be a nice inflow of applicants, and there is no big concern about a drop in the number of applicants. The number of new employment contracts signed in 2017 was 160, approximately 60 of which were summer employment contracts. Foreign workforce is considered a good option, but for safety reasons, Finnish language skills are a must in production.
“In the early 1990s, many Ingrian remigrants came to work at Koskisen, and we still consider them an important resource. Foreign workforce is also a major opportunity, and we intend to keep our doors open to all interested candidates, also going forward,” stresses Tissari.
Text: Jasmina Kauta