I’m a CEO in Finland, the happiest country in the world: 3 phrases we use at work every day

For the seventh consecutive year, Finland has been crowned the happiest country in the world, as per the findings of the most recent World Happiness Report. The secrets behind the contentment of Finnish workers are multifaceted, with a considerable emphasis placed on trust and work-life harmony. Miika Makitalo, the CEO of HappyOrNot, a company renowned for its smiley-faced feedback buttons found in airports and shops globally, sheds light on this phenomenon. Operating out of Finland with a diverse team and additional employees in the U.S. and U.K., HappyOrNot embodies the Finnish ethos in its organizational culture.

Makitalo highlights three Finnish sayings that encapsulate the country's approach to workplace satisfaction and effectiveness:

1. **Embrace Continuous Learning: "No one is born a smith."**

    This proverb highlights the Finnish belief in continuous personal and professional development. It encourages individuals to pursue their dreams and apply for roles that align with their aspirations, emphasizing the importance of learning on the job. Adopting a growth mindset, wherein skills are honed through practice, is highly valued. Furthermore, this saying reassures that making mistakes is a part of the learning curve, advocating for self-compassion and the constructive use of feedback to improve.

2. **Foster Independence and Responsibility: "Serious business matters are taken care of; otherwise, we’ll be like Mary’s chickens on the loose."**

    Originating from the Finnish classic novel *The Unknown Soldier*, this phrase underpins the balance between responsibility and autonomy. It stresses that crucial tasks will always be addressed promptly, after which employees are free to manage their own time. This reflects Finnish workplaces' tendency towards flat hierarchies, where direct communication and feedback are encouraged, and everyone is seen as an equal contributor. This culture minimizes micromanagement and bolsters individual ownership over work.

3. **Adopt a Positive Outlook: "Forward," said the granny in the snow.**

    This saying is a metaphor for resilience and the determination to overcome obstacles. It promotes a forward-thinking attitude and the importance of not dwelling on problems. Instead, it encourages taking action and dealing with challenges as they arise. This pragmatic and optimistic mindset is instrumental in navigating through difficulties, emphasizing execution and progress.

These insights from Makitalo illustrate the fundamental principles that contribute to the high levels of happiness among Finnish workers: a commitment to lifelong learning, the empowerment of individuals to act independently, and a resilient, forward-oriented mindset. Such principles not only foster a content and productive workforce but also reflect the broader values of Finnish society.  

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