Senior Researcher Tarja Heponiemi is in charge of the analysis of multicultural social and health care workplaces. According to Heponiemi, as a result of larger migrant flows, the importance of workplace issues has become more pronounced.
“Language skills are always an issue in multicultural workplaces. However, with this study we expect to identify other factors as well. What we are trying to achieve, is to identify not only obstacles to employment but also solutions and enablers – skills and characteristics that can be further developed.”
Heponiemi expects the project to yield a viable tool. The focus is on workplace functions and client encounters.
“The new tool could be a mobile or web-based application. We need a tool that is easily accessible, because all organisations have tight schedules,” Heponiemi explains.
“As a people, we Finns often come across as somewhat uptight and inaccessible, and our personal space tends to be fairly large.” We therefore need cultural sensitivity training in order to interact with both colleagues and clients.
“Raising one’s voice doesn’t necessarily indicate disagreement, and people from other cultures may be used to standing closer than is considered appropriate in Finland. There is still much to learn! Happily, the younger generation appears to be better prepared for and willing to embrace differences.”
Heponiemi is a docent in health psychology, with academic training in both biology and psychology. Her dissertation was on psychophysiology.
Article written by Tarja Heponiemi & Sini Silvàn on 13th January 2017.