Well-being and health

For an increasing number of people, eating healthy food and investing in one's well-being are a lifestyle. We want to help our customers to make healthier choices, and we also want to take care of the well-being of our employees.

The key objectives of the Well-being and health theme of our Best Place to Live programme include employee satisfaction and customers' healthier choices. The success in meeting these objectives is measured by, in particular, monitoring the development of the job satisfaction index and the increase in the sales of vegetables.


S Group´s job satisfaction index, (a scale of 0-100)

Our employees are clearly more satisfied with their jobs than the average in Finland. Our annual target is a result that is at least five points over the general norm in Finland. In 2017, we exceeded the norm by 6.6 points.

Cumulative increase in the sales of vegetables, million kg

We make it even more convenient for customers to consume vegetables by preparing visible displays of seasonal produce in our stores and by lowering the prices of vegetables. The sale of vegetables has increased by approximately 23 million kg in S Group's grocery stores in the past three years.

Well-being at work

Taking care of people and teams

Few are the companies that succeed without employees who are satisfied with their jobs and feel good at work. The keys to improved well-being at work can be simple and easily available in daily work. The most important thing is to anticipate changes and their impacts on personnel and to genuinely involve employees on developing better work practices.

Within S Group, the most significant recurring annual indicator is the work community survey, in which all employees are invited to participate. The survey maps factors related to one's own work and performance as well as those related to one's work unit and company. The survey consists of several indices, which are used to measure various aspects of job satisfaction.

"Compared to the general norm in Finland, our strengths lie in management and performance, in particular. At the end of last year, the majority of our cooperatives introduced the management promises of ‘I dare, I appreciate and I do'.  They provide a framework for the work of supervisors', says Susa Nikula, S Group's Executive Vice President, Human Resources.

Supervisors play a key role in improving job satisfaction. Poor supervisory work should not be tolerated, but supervisors should also be supported so that they can succeed. A motivating and skilled supervisor makes their employees shine and consequently perform even better in their duties.

S Group employees also feel they are doing the right things at work, since the new ethics index in the survey was high. In addition, compliance with the company's principles and values in daily work is higher than the average in Finland.

In 2017, S Group also implemented a new shared measuring tool for well-being at work, which consists of indicators for job satisfaction, quality of supervisory work, working ability experienced by respondents, and disability. The indicators can be used to monitor how various factors affecting job satisfaction develop throughout the retail group and to set targets for measures to improve well-being at work.

The measuring tool helps us reach mutual understanding of factors that affect well-being at work and of disability-related costs as well as to develop the management of operations on the basis of the right indicators.

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New colleagues at Delicatessens

We received a few hundred new colleagues, as the Stockmann Delicatessen stores, acquired by the cooperatives at the turn of the year, opened under the new owners. The employees of the stores were the same as before. Niina Saari, who has worked at the Delicatessen store in Tampere for nearly 20 years, reflects on the new situation.

"It was a relaxing summer day when I received the message: S Group will acquire the Delicatessen stores. The news felt good, and I figured the new situation offered lots of new opportunities.

Daily work with the new owner has started to flow nicely. We have received orientation to the new systems and how things are done in S Group. It has all been made very easy for us, and we have received plenty of support from employees of SOK's other units.

I think the new winds blowing have boosted personnel morale and increased motivation. The new employer is interested in our well-being and coping. It feels really nice." 

Quality of employment relationships: Flexible work

Our intention is to enable all employees to earn their primary income by working for the Group, if they so wish. Although the majority of employees still value full-time work, part-time work is popular among young people under 25 years of age and those in the last years of their work career, in particular.

Full-time and part-time employees, %
Permanent and fixed-term employees, %

15.7 %

Employee turnover, permanent employees

A stress injury slowed down active daily life

The daily life changed for Virva Kaipainen, 55, a cashier at Pickala ABC, when her ankle gave out. The solution to her situation was adapted work duties.

"I started feeling pain in my ankle in autumn 2016. I thought the culprit was my new work shoes. I stopped wearing them, but the symptoms persisted. I did not say a word to my boss, but figured I could just grin and and bear it. Eventually, the pain was so severe that I hobbled on one leg at work, and the incorrect body position started to cause pain in my back, too. After handling the situation in this manner for six months, I went to see a doctor. They diagnosed a stress fracture and put me on sick leave right away.

I tolerated being on sick leave for two weeks. Not being allowed to move was awful. Finally I realised I wouldn't burden my foot if I cleaned the house on all fours. I had always liked being on the move, and usually my pedometer showed 10,000–15,000 steps at the end of the workday. I had been working in customer service for 30 years and had very rarely been ill.

I love my job, and as an extroverted individual, I need contacts with other people. After two weeks, I wanted to go back to work to see if I could return to my job at the checkout. The pain in my foot returned.

However, I did not want to mope around at home so I suggested to my boss Susanne that I could maybe take on lighter duties. This arrangement was possible, and I transferred to work three-day weeks at the office. For six months, I handled magazine returns, worked on shoplifting cases and handled funds transactions. Previously, my husband and I had worked as service station entrepreneurs, so I had prior experience in similar duties. Still, I learned a lot. I think one should be open to accepting new tasks.

I give a lot of praise to my boss Susanne for taking my situation seriously and organising everything. For me, returning to working life was easier, since I was still a member of the working community and stayed up-to-date on new products and menus."

Virva Kaipainen,

ABC Pickala

Safe work

A safe working and service environment is a fundamental right of our personnel and customers. S Group ensures safety through accident prevention as well as identification and avoidance of various hazardous and near miss situations. Continuous improvement of the personnel's safety awareness and the regular reviewing of work-related risks are important means of prevention. 

Amount of accidents at work
Accident site
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Young minds at work

Retail as a bridge to working life

Young people value different things in working life than the previous generations and have completely new skills and views. S Group's three-year Nuori Mieli Työssä (‘Young minds at work') project is a programme for developing working life and it targets young people under 25 years of age. The idea of the programme is to listen to the young and provide employers with more information on their expectations and, on the other hand, to help young people understand the employer's objectives better.

The number of young people S Group employs is among the highest in Finland, and we help a significant group of young people gain their very first working life experiences by hiring them in summer job or trainee positions. On the other hand, young people who work evenings and weekends are vital to the operations of many of our outlets.

The first project in the programme is an extensive study concerning the expectations young people have of working life. For the study, all 10,000 S Group employees under 25 years of age will be invited to respond to a survey about the purpose of work, skills and preparedness in working life as well as well-being at work and maintaining one's working ability. The study reflects the core of the programme, namely, listening to young people.

Another way to ensure young people are heard in all stages of the programme is to involve four young sponsor employees in the Nuori Mieli Työssä steering group that leads the programme.

"Young people can look at the operating methods in the workplace in a new, bold way and also bring IT skills to the table, whereas the seasoned old-timers offer wisdom gained though experience. The young are often those who question old ways and are enthusiastic about learning new," says Jonna Eerola, one of the young members of the steering group.

The realisation that the retail sector functions acts a bridge to working life has increased willingness in S Group to participate in the discussion about phenomena that currently affect the working ability of young people. In all of Finland, mental health issues are a growing cause of disability pensions, even among young people. Thus, both mental and physical aspects are taken into consideration in the measures taken to support the coping of young people at work.

A young person between the ages of 19 and 25 on the verge of adulthood undergoes a number of significant life changes. Young people going through this critical stage in life should be supported so they are able to enter working life early on. This will help prevent many challenges, such as marginalisation. Providing a young person with orientation to their first job offers them guidance and skills needed in the working life in general.

The programme is sponsored in S Group by the management team of the Osuuskauppa Hämeenmaa cooperative. The partners include Elo Mutual Pension Insurance Company, LocalTapiola, Opteam, PAM, SAKU ry, the Finnish Association for Mental Health, Terveystalo, the Working Life 2020 project and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

For a healthier daily life 

We help our customers make healthier choices


Interest in healthy food

Currently, eating healthy food is one of the largest food trends around the world. We want everyone to be able to eat well. 

S Group has addressed the demand for healthy food by lowering the prices of Finnish vegetables, in particular, and by offering a diverse range of plant-based products. The sale of vegetables is growing rapidly: compared to 2015, it has increased by approximately 23 million kg.

This is a positive trend, since there is still room for increasing the consumption of vegetables. Only about 10 per cent of people eat the recommended five portions of vegetables per day.

Unfortunately, this is not always due to one's eating habits but also price. In S Group's customer panel about a year ago, more than half of the participants said they would buy more vegetables if they were cheaper.

We lowered the prices of vegetables, because everyone should be able to afford to eat well. Our customers have also discovered the seasonal produce. Every month, we highlight the seasonal and most affordable vegetables by means of eye-catching displays in stores. 

S Group's other business operations also encourage people to make healthy choices. For example, the assortment of the completely revamped salad buffet at the ABC restaurants appeals to the palates of truck drivers and health enthusiasts alike.


Healthier food for children

"In Autumn 2017, we announced a series of initiatives with the aim to help families with children to make healthy choices and boost new kinds of product and communication innovations throughout the food supply chain.  As a retailer, we want to contribute to highlighting the benefits of a varied diet.

One aspect of doing this is to design product packaging that is appealing and motivating to children. We are also launching store visits of primary school pupils. The idea is to offer insights into foods that are healthy."


Ässäkokki cooking classes

"To honour the 100 years of Finnish independence, our cooperatives organised more than 100 Ässäkokki cooking classes jointly with the Martha home economics and well-being organisation. The classes let children get creative in the kitchen. They prepared the food themselves and grown-ups lent a hand, if needed. The variety of dishes prepared in the classes was wide. One of the classes prepared, for example, pizza with kale, dipping vegetables, rolls and an apple pastry. More classes are scheduled for this year.

Children are the future of the Finnish culinary culture. The basic skills in cooking smarter learned at a young age are a good foundation for healthy eating habits for many years to come." 

Katja Tapio,

Vice President, Assortments and Pricing, SOK 

Outi Hohti,

Communications Manager, SOK

Researchers take a look at the eating habits of S Group's customers

What do Finns eat and what are the factors that affect food consumption? Researchers at the Universities of Helsinki and Tampere thought information about what S Group's co-op members purchase might provide answers to this question, and co-op members were asked for their permission to use their purchasing data.

More than 14,000 S Group co-op members consented to the use of their purchasing data in the study, which surveys the purchasing habits of Finns.

"The advantage of the co-op member registry data is that it is objective: using it eliminates the need to ask customers to think about and report what they buy or eat. On the other hand, this approach also has challenges: the customer cards usually provide information on families instead of individuals, and food purchases are not always centralised to the stores of the same chain," says Mikael Fogelholm, professor at the Department of Food and Nutrition of the University of Helsinki. 

The main objective of the study, launched in 2017, is to produce information on whether the data on co-op members' purchases describes the food consumption habits of the population as well. In addition, S Group's goal is to use the purchasing data to develop services that support customers' healthier lifestyles.

The Cosmethics application helps customers to interpret the contents of cosmetics at Sokos

The list of ingredients of cosmetics products is often so cryptic that using an interpreter would be in order. For example, what is polyethylene? The Cosmethics application in use at the Sokos and Emotion stores helps customers find that out. By scanning the product bar code, the application checks whether the product contains ingredients that you might want to avoid, such as allergens or animal ingredients. The application will be available at all units by the end of 2018. 

A hot topic in the recent discussion has been microplastics in cosmetics. Plastic substances go by a number of different names in the ingredient list, but the most common name is polyethylene. Cosmethics helps identify whether there are microplastics or other ingredients of concern in products. The We Care Icon product line of the Sokos and Emotion stores does not contain microplastics. 

The cosmetics line also works in cooperation with WWF. A portion of the proceeds of each make-up product supports the conservation work of WWF.  

S Group does not sell cosmetics that are tested on animals or contain prohibited substances.

Ässäkenttä fields

Children and young people need places where they can play sports without advance planning, near their homes and without fees. Therefore, S Group and the Football Association of Finland jointly run the Ässäkenttä field programme. 

The objective is to build 100 multi-purpose fields in the yards of Finnish primary schools. At the end of 2017, 80 fields had been completed, and the 100th field will be finalised this year. 

The Ässäkenttä fields are free of charge and open for everyone, and can be used for a variety of ball games and sports or to just play. For S Group, building the fields is very important, since exercising is an integral part of the daily life and well-being of children and young people. 

The initiatives to build fields come from municipalities, which make the decisions concerning the construction of local sports facilities. The cooperatives' share of the costs of building the fields is approximately 40 per cent. 

The Ässäkenttä fields offer opportunities to play and have fun to approximately


children and young people