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Finland's OP finance group looks to cut 250 jobs

The OP Financial Group will begin co-determination talks with 3,000 employees at the end of August.

Osuuspankin pääkonttori Teollisuuskadulla Helsingissä.
OP bank's headquarters in Vallila, Helsinki. Image: Derrick Frilund / Yle

OP Financial Group announced on Tuesday that it would slash its headcount by up to 250 due to planned changes in its operating model.

Co-determination talks are due to begin on 26 August and will affect 3,000 employees altogether. According to initial information from the company, the introduction of the new operating model will also lead to the creation of new roles within the company, which are to be offered to current members of staff facing redundancy.

OP's plans include an expansion into corporate banking and insurance, which will bring about changes in the structure of the company as well as the redefinition of certain roles. OP Financial Group's member banks will not be affected by the negotiations.

"We noticed during the spring how big the change in the operating model will be. Our goal is to reduce bureaucracy, lighten the organisation and and delegate decision-making power to self-directed teams," says Hannakaisa Länsisalmi, the OP Group's Vice President of Human Resources.

The new model has fewer levels of hierarchy, meaning that there will be less middle management, according to Länsisalmi.

"Operations will be based on a team structure, where each team has a team leader, and there are development officers and coaches for a particular product or service, who will help teams learn flexible practices and continually improve their operations," she explains.

Employee representative wary

The OP Financial Group also conducted co-determination talks in October last year, amid a full corporate restructuring that aimed to cut costs by 100 million euros. At that time, the restructuring led to 700 roles within the organisation being cut, while 1,000 new ones were created.

At the time, workers' representatives were delighted with the result of the restructure.

"I was calmer last autumn than I am now", says chief shop steward Eija Laurila. "That's because now we cannot estimate how many new work responsibilities will be created. The fact that we are doing well financially makes me calmer, however."

Laurila added that she is also concerned by the challenges some personnel may face adjusting to the new roles.

"The biggest challenge is how well the skills of the staff will meet the demands of the new tasks, or how to get the balance right. That's what's uppermost in my mind right now. But I'm trying to approach things with an open mind," she said.

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