Managers as a Model for Defeating Stress
Suvi-Tuuli Helin wrote an award-winning Master's thesis on human resources, and at the same time, she created a framework for her company that combines well-being with human resource management.
Suvi-Tuuli Helin, 25, is a freshly minted Master of Science in Economics and Business Administration, who studied, in her thesis, how key persons in a company experience stress during the working day, and how the stress they experience is connected with work engagement. She studied the equation through physiological measurements, in addition to which the participants wrote a journal of their experiences during the working day.
“Physiologically, stress is an increase in activity level, and it shows in heartbeat when the heart reacts to stimuli both external and internal to the system.”
In her thesis, Helin studied key persons in the companies, because when the managers are aware of their own well-being, it also promotes well-being on the other levels of the organisation.
“It is very important to create a culture in the organisation where taking care of your own health and well-being is allowed. A small group has a great responsibility over how the others cope.”
Helin emphasises that stress is not always negative: there is also positive stress, which is a resource. In physiological measurements, Helin observed that positive stress is connected to the experience of work engagement.
“When people get excited, they are active. Experiencing work engagement is subjective, and everybody must learn to identify it themselves. Combining measurements and journal entries is intended to assist in this.”
The essential thing is how well you can recover from stress. Helin's method also helps with identifying the restorative moments in a day.
“It is not dangerous to expend a lot of resources in one day. But if you don't recover, you will become exhausted, and then the activity level is not so high after all. It becomes a rat race.”
Now Helin, too, is an entrepreneur. In her company, called the Wellness Factory, she conducts measurements based on the method created in her thesis.
“Practical conclusions transformed easily into business activity. In my work, it has been wonderful to see people reach big results even with small actions. Personally, I have been excited about every new person and measurement – this is the richness of entrepreneurship.”
Suvi-Tuuli Helin was rewarded for her Master’s thesis with the award of the HR thesis of the year in 2013 by the Finnish Association for Human Resources Management. The advisor for Suvi-Tuuli Helin's Master's thesis was Senior Research Fellow Timo Lainema.
Text: Taru Suhonen
Photograph: Hanna Oksanen