Customer stories
19 Jun 2024

Pioneering change leadership

Pioneering change leadership

Veikkaus has undergone significant changes in recent years as the company has strived to meet the challenges of digitalisation and develop its operations to be more responsible. The goal is clear: to be an internationally leading gaming company. This journey has required a renewal of strategy, setting of goals, and strengthening of change management.


Last autumn, the Finnish state-owned gambling company, Veikkaus, stood on the brink of a new era. Until now, the company has had a monopoly on gambling operations in Finland, but in the autumn, the government programme included a section on opening up the gambling market through a licensing system by the end of 2025. As a result, Veikkaus' 80-year-old gambling monopoly is coming to an end, and a significant part of Veikkaus' operations are transitioning to international and digital license markets.

As it steps into this new era, Veikkaus decided to reassess its organisation and corporate structure with fresh eyes and make choices based on that. “We realised that in this new competitive situation, we need to ensure that the entire company's operations are sustainable and, above all, profitable,” says Veikkaus' HR Director Heli Lallukka. This also meant personnel impacts, which is why Veikkaus had to start change negotiations at the beginning of September 2023, with Hanken & SSE selected as the change security partner.


“We realised that in this new competitive situation, we need to ensure that the entire company's operations are sustainable and, above all, profitable.”


Veikkaus' goal in the change has been to build a future where Veikkaus would still be Finland's most successful gambling company and a significant player in the international market. “Our goal is to be the primary choice for our customers and a common source of pride for all Finns, not just Veikkaus employees,” Heli explains. Veikkaus decided to focus its strategy on improving customer experience, diversifying its product range, and promoting responsibility. The aim is to create better gaming experiences for customers while the company strives to minimise gaming harms and promote responsible gaming. Change management was key to implementing the strategy as smoothly as possible. Veikkaus is therefore investing in strong change communication, employee involvement, and training to ensure that changes go as smoothly as possible.

Leading change

In situations of change, especially if they involve staff reductions, emotions are always strongly present. Changes challenge leaders and require them to manage in a way that is human-centric and clear. It is of utmost importance to lead change situations not only in compliance with the law but also in a manner that supports the company's values, culture, good practices, and consistency.

Veikkaus' values are courageously – inspired by the future, together – playing as a team, and caring – from person to person. “It is important to us that we also adhere to these values also in situations of change,” Heli emphasises. At Veikkaus, the culture of caring is reflected, among other things, in the emphasis on the importance of dialogue. “We genuinely listen to our staff, and they bring feedback to the employer's plans in change situations,” Heli says and continues, “We believe that by having a dialogue about plans with employees, we can develop even better solutions.”


“We believe that by having a dialogue about plans with employees, we can develop even better solutions.”


A well-managed change process is a key factor in improving plans and maintaining and restoring the operational capacity of the work community. “A well-managed change process ensures that plans are acid-tested and improved thanks to the development suggestions given by the staff. At the end of the process, change can be implemented quickly because dialogue has been had and readiness to proceed exists,” Heli emphasises and continues: “When the change process is well managed, the work community's operational capacity is relatively quickly restored. A strong change story and understanding of why things are done help in this.”

Veikkaus has received positive feedback on its ability to communicate clearly about the future direction. “We succeeded in creating a belief that the company will emerge from this situation as a winner. Such belief has a huge significance for future prospects. When you can link change to a larger story about what we are doing, it motivates to continue moving forward,” Heli highlights.

Support offered to the laid-off

With Veikkaus' reorganisation, a decision was made to close about 20 gaming halls, and although some staff were redirected to new positions, layoffs were unavoidable.

Legislation on change security stipulates that companies making collective redundancies must offer support, guaranteeing those with at least five years of employment the right to receive employment-promoting training or coaching funded by the company. However, Veikkaus did not limit support measures only to those legally entitled to change security but extended it to all laid-off employees. The support offered was also broader than the statutory change security and included, among other things, support for studying and entrepreneurship. “We have a lot of experience with changes, and each change situation is unique. In change situations, companies often optimise the costs incurred from layoffs, which is understandable in many situations. However, we have decided that we really want to support people in change situations, and that's why we have offered change security to everyone and also strengthened it,” Heli explains.

Hanken & SSE was selected as the change security partner through a public tender. The selection considered not only competitive pricing but also the partner's ability to genuinely tailor services and offer individual support to people. “We wanted a partner capable of providing quality change services, coordinating the whole cost-effectively, and operating nationally. The change partner was also required to deliver services in a way that respects the staff and considers each individual's situation and needs,” Heli summarises.

The collaboration between Veikkaus and Hanken & SSE has been close throughout the entire change process. Outi Moberg, who was responsible for coordinating the change security at Veikkaus, appreciated Hanken & SSE's ability to add value by consulting in practical implementation and their straightforward interaction: “everything could be discussed with a low threshold, almost as if we were one big team.” The feeling has been mutual. “It has been a real privilege to act as Veikkaus' partner in this change and a special joy to share this story, from which every organisation preparing for change can take an example!” thanks Emilia Sainisalo, Growth Area Director responsible for Career Lifecycle Solutions at Hanken & SSE.

Heli's best tips for change situations

Preparing for and managing change situations requires careful planning and open communication. Heli offers valuable advice to companies facing similar challenges.

Tip 1: Careful preparation

Heli emphasises the importance of preparing for change situations. She stresses that each change is unique, and preparation is key. “Always prepare carefully so that in change situations you can focus on supporting the well-being of the staff,” she notes.

Tip 2: Open communication

Open and continuous communication is essential throughout the process. Changes often affect the entire work community broadly, so it's important to keep all employees informed and support them through the change. Heli encourages taking care of the support and open communication of the work community throughout the process.

Tip 3: Respecting values

Returning to the company's values helps make even difficult decisions. Heli emphasises that decisions made in change situations should reflect the company's values. “When difficult decisions have to be made, they should always be evaluated from the perspective of the company's values to ensure actions are in accordance with them,” she stresses.

Tip 4: Occupational health support

Finally, Heli suggests stronger support from occupational health services in change situations. Clearly defined and elevated support through occupational health can provide valuable assistance to employees and supervisors. “It is often easier for people to talk about issues related to change situations with someone on the outside, and especially supervisors may need external support and sparring. In this situation, occupational health can be an excellent pillar of support,” Heli adds.

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Image for Emilia Sainisalo
Emilia Sainisalo
Growth Area Director, Career Lifecycle Solutions
+358 45 677 8557 emilia.sainisalo(a)
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