We have spent considerable time thinking about what we could do to improve the satisfaction of foreign employees and their families in Finland. One such way is to organize events to meet other people in the same situation and provide the opportunity to form social networks. Last December we organized a trip to Fazer’s brand new visitor’s center, which did exactly that in a new and interesting environment with families. Sharing experiences with people in a similar situation is of the utmost importance, and at best even therapeutic to many.
Fazer is one of the most well-known Finnish brands, and during the tour we got to know their history, story, and of course products. One of the many things we learned was that the father of the Fazer corporation Karl Fazer and the recipe of their famed Fazer chocolate are of Swiss origin. Karl Fazer studied the art of making sweets and pastries in Europe’s leading confectionaries in St. Petersburg, Berlin, and Paris before founding his factory of sweets in Punavuori in 1897. There he employed around two dozen people, many of whom came from Russia. Thus Fazer is a fine example of successfully utilizing international talent and experience in business.
The trip found particular interest amongst Asians, and in particular our Japanese customers attended in large numbers. The exhibit surprised many with its abstract presentation, and the production lines can nowadays only be seen through VR-goggles. One of the themes was clearly corporate social responsibility, which was highlighted throughout the presentation. Fazer has taken CSR to heart, and implemented it as a key part of their corporate philosophy. How is the social responsibility aspect taken care of in your company? How about multi-culturalism? We could all consider our responsibilities towards our foreign employees and their families feeling at home in Finland together.
The guided tour ended with a tasting, which made especially the children break out in broad smiles. Afterwards all of us shared a meal in the cafeteria – at least those of us who could eat anything after partaking in all of the sweets. The abundant buffet familiarized our guests with many Finnish Christmas foods, such as Christmas tarts, breads and cheeses. Various Christmasy tastes were present, though there were also some notable absences. Nobody left the trip hungry that’s for certain, and in fact we believe that our guests left with very sweet memories.
In our last article we discussed the importance of the spouse for international assignments and employment. What we saw and heard on the trip provided empirical evidence to support the findings of the study that article was based on. On the trip and in particular afterwards our customers expressed their gratitude for the chance of socializing with people in the same situation. Spouses especially felt the experience was energizing. Based on this positive experience we will organize similar events for our customers in the future!