In 1975, three classmates, Seija Jaatinen, Pirjo Leirilaakso and Jorma Tukiainen, got their dream summer jobs in Sokos Joensuu. Seija had already been a student trainee in the cosmetics department before the summer.

Before long, department store director Raimo Luhanko asked to talk to her and offered her a permanent job as a cosmetics seller. Pirjo and Jorma also ended up in Sokos.

The trio has almost a 150-year career at Sokos between them. Jorma and Pirjo have recently retired, but as Seija is in good condition and motivated, she now wonders if she could continue beyond the soon approaching retirement age so that her career could last for 50 years.

“I guess working this long is already a rarity in modern Finland. But when you’ve had a really good team from the start, time has really flown. I remember how already in the early years we participated in various training courses, spent a lot of time together also on our free time and our team spirit was very strong.”

“We got to work very independently, but under our supervisor’s watchful and advisory eye. It seemed that even though a lot was done and good results were achieved, there was less hurry than today.”

The road led to a chief shop steward post

In 1996, Seija Jaatinen started as the chief shop steward of Sokos. Since then, she has become a full-time chief shop steward in PKO’s trade sector.

Seija boasts that she also met good spirit when dealing with matters as a shop steward.

“Conversation with management is very good. Discussions have taken place and all challenges have been solved within the workplace. I believe that an open and fair atmosphere is one of the most important factors that makes people feel comfortable working for the same employer for a long time.”

There are an exceptionally large number of long employment relationships in PKO. Seija thinks that they are an asset for the company. There is no substitute for the expertise and competence that come with long experience.

For the employee, a secure, permanent job is worth its weight in gold. Of course, there must be enough working hours to get by with the pay.

“The fact that we have a lot of long employment relationships shows that most employees are satisfied with their work and their employer”, Seija estimates.

Good life in North Karelia

Seija says she also understands young people who want to try different opportunities, change jobs and employer. At the same time, however, she hopes that retail won’t become too much of a transit point, but that as many experienced experts as possible would work in retail.

“If the employees are constantly changing, continuous orientation takes an unreasonable amount of time.”

In Seija’s opinion, long-term employment relationships are also important for the vitality of the entire region. Safe workplaces allow people to feel comfortable in their home region so that they don’t have to go to big cities in order to make their living.

“I think you can build a good life in North Karelia. There are successful companies here that are able to employ people and we have good training opportunities in many fields. Living is also cheaper than in the large population centres of the south.”

“And we at PKO should be happy about our great employee benefits. They are actually a big addition to our pay.”