Case YTK – How we responded to the coronavirus crisis and almost doubled our personnel in exceptional circumstances

It dawned to us early this year that we will soon need a large number of new employees to clear the backlog of applications for daily allowance caused by the coronavirus outbreak. During the past month we have already received some 30,000 applications, while normally we receive around 45,000 applications per year. To respond to that workload we have hired 100 new employees in the midst of exceptional circumstances and remote working. That’s quite a number!

The YTK staff of some 150 people is of very permanent nature – the longest employments have lasted for around thirty years – so only 5–10 new employees are recruited per year. Preparing for the growing number of applications began in February with unprecedented recruitment plans. Gradually we managed to hire from April to May 94 people to work in advisory services and processing of applications. Reinforcements were also added to support functions, such as legal affairs, HR and financial administration.

Exceptional circumstances call for exceptional measures

The most surprising challenges related to recruitment are quite unique these days. All of our personnel is doing remote work, so induction was also implemented through a remote connection. When our new employees came to pick up equipment from Loimaa, the groups needed to be scheduled precisely, to be able to maintain safe distances. Luckily we started acting so early that we managed to acquire proper equipment for everyone, as it was not so easy to find.

The new employees are employed for a fixed-period and work either as unemployment security guides in the customer service, answering messages and calls, or familiarise themselves with the processing of certain types of applications. Normally, YTK’s induction for new employees lasts several months, because the unemployment issues are fairly complicated. Now we are completing the induction in weeks, which requires rethinking of the ways of working as well as efficient training and support from colleagues. Learning on the job and support for that lie at the centre of successful induction.

We will make this work

There is a lot of work to do, but each application processed and each member who gets help is a step forward. The new employees are trained to serve our members and process the benefit matters with the same meticulous approach we are used to. The results are supervised internally to ensure correct and lawful working.

We also have a fast-moving local partner company called Åma Oy that runs the job application process with us. Efficient co-operation is based on the active approach and attitude of both parties. Sari-Anne Poikkijoki from Åma Oy and I are both happy to be able to do such meaningful work at these challenging times. We make a huge effort with a smile on our face and with a positive approach.

The same positivity shone through in the job applications, the number of which totalled around 1,000 through different channels. The applicants included skilled students and experienced professionals who wanted to do their share and at the same time get to work at one of the most inspiring workplaces in Finland. We had to make tight decisions, and unfortunately could not recruit everyone. Video and telephone interviews proved to work fine.

At YTK we work together with incredible team spirit and energy, which will help us to succeed and get through the coronavirus situation together with our members – and because of them. The reputation of a work community that makes an effort for the common good and great colleagues has spread far. We are happy about each new colleague.

Anne Pihlava, HR Manager of YTK.

Anne Pihlava, HR Manager