Fennovoima had to face significant change negotiations in the spring of 2022 when the contract with the nuclear power plant supplier had to be terminated. For this reason, the change negotiations concerned the entire staff. We talked with Eija Salo, Fennovoima's then HR director, about how the company handled the change negotiations responsibly, taking into account the personnel, the company and, of course, the legal aspects.
Choosing the right partner
To support the staff, we sourced a professional partner with experience and good references in supporting demanding change negotiations. Crucial to us was that the partner has as vast a network of change coaches and job search services and knowledge of the education market. We wanted a partner ready to start the transition coaching quickly, and since it was about supporting the entire staff, we needed to start coaching with competent coaches as soon as possible. With Fennovoima being an international company, it was important that the processes and coaching sessions could be conducted in English. Ultimately, we chose the HRM Partners career lifecycle solutions, part of Hanken & SSE Executive Education.
The partner supported our staff and the other parties who were part of the change negotiations throughout and after the negotiations. The change processes and alternatives were carefully reviewed and communicated to the staff. The partner also hosted information sessions for the staff, where they explained the different stages and options of the change coaching. We received comprehensive support for managing the situation, and the staff's job search started rapidly after the change negotiations. Employees were coached to find a new job and many participated in high-quality coaching programmes supporting the job search. The partner's extensive network helped many employees quickly find new jobs, also on the international market.
The importance of constant communication during the negotiations
Communication played a vital role throughout the change negotiation process, and we strived to communicate within the company as much as possible, as clearly as possible and through many channels.
The leaders regularly held meetings and information sessions for the entire staff, explaining why we were in this situation, what options we had, how the change negotiations were progressing, what would happen next and what kind of support we could offer the employees. In addition, all change negotiation documentation was visible on the intranet for the entire staff. In addition, the staff representatives held information sessions and were always available to the employees. The company and staff representatives, the parties of the change negotiations, had a continuous dialogue throughout the process.
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Supporting the dismissed personnel
At the beginning of the change negotiations, we agreed with the staff representatives that if, as a result of the change negotiations, we have to lay off employees, we will offer the highest possible level of professional change coaching to everyone who wants it. We had a shared vision that our highly educated personnel, a large part of whom were international experts, want and need a lot of information about the labour market and the job search process and want to learn more during the process to improve their career opportunities. And, of course, the overall goal was for our employees to find new jobs as quickly as possible.
We offered everyone the same package, with a wide selection of different forms of support tailored specifically for this target group. Each employee could decide which support package to choose from the options offered.
How did the well-managed process support the employees?
The change negotiations were an extensive and challenging process for all parties, and we wanted to handle them as well as possible. Throughout the company's existence, we have always taken good care of the well-being of the personnel, and the change negotiations were no exception.
During the change negotiations, the employees were worried about the future, so emotions were understandably on the surface. The further the process progressed, and when the employees began to settle into new jobs, we started to receive positive feedback from the staff. When the situation became apparent to everyone, the employees were better able to process the whole matter and consider how the situation was handled and what help and support each person received from the change coaching. The employees felt that they and their skills were taken into account, they got support in their job search and could participate in coaching sessions to promote their skills and job search. The coaches also received excellent feedback on their professionalism.
Prepare for the upcoming change negotiations