Iisalmi — the world’s first rush free regional city in 2025 

Rush has a negative impact on our wellbeing. The more you pick up the pace, the worse you feel.  Rushing is not good for people, nor does it improve the quality of work. If we want people and businesses to thrive, it is essential to identify and eliminate unnecessary rush. In Iisalmi, we recognise these facts. We want to lead the way in creating a rush free zone, and aim to reduce our stress footprint to net zero by 2025.  

Studies [1] show that a growing number of Finns feel that they are constantly in a hurry and stressed at work. This phenomenon is not restricted to Finland; it is a global concern.  Being in a rush and under a lot of stress for long periods of time can eventually make us sick. In response to the growing pressures of working life, the City of Iisalmi together with its By Iisalmi business partners decided to declare its intention to be the world’s first rush free regional city by 2025.  

“Iisalmi is known not only for its successful businesses, but also for its laidback and relaxed lifestyle. Companies such as Olvi, Ponsse and Genelec have discovered that it is possible to pursue an international career while enjoying the natural beauty of the Ylä-Savo landscape and the warm and welcoming atmosphere of a regional city. Our goal is to make the zero rush mindset a visible part of our overall operating culture,” says Terho Savolainen, Director of Economic Development of Iisalmi.  

Joining forces to create miracles in working life  

Juhani Niiranen is a Cluster President at Hanza AB, a global company that modernizes and streamlines the manufacturing industry. His recipe for a rush free workplace consists of an atmosphere of trust, a good work-life balance, and the mentality of pulling together that is so embraced by the people of Iisalmi.   

“A good team spirit and an atmosphere of trust play an enormously important role in terms of coping at work. In Iisalmi, a good team spirit is not limited to individual workplaces; we have a great relationship with other companies operating here. We regard each other as partners rather than competitors,” Niiranen says. 

Flexibility and freedom of choice improve job satisfaction  

Flexibility and employee inclusion are excellent tools for making work feel more meaningful.  Ways to increase flexibility and inclusion include modifying tasks to better suit the employee’s current life situation, or providing additional training in the workplace. 

Giving employees an opportunity to have a say about their own work and influence decisions made in the workplace improves job satisfaction. Simply knowing that your own actions make a difference makes you much more committed to your work. At Hanza, we always try to offer flexible working hours when our employees’ personal circumstances require it, and in addition we want to provide both variety and training opportunities at work. Many of our employees started out working in production and have gradually worked their way up to managerial or specialist positions,” Niiranen explains.  

Nature helps to get your mind off work  

As a regional city set amidst unspoilt nature, Iisalmi offers a unique combination of international business and career opportunities with quiet relaxation in the great outdoors. It’s easy to switch off from work when you are always within easy access to parks and recreational facilities.  

In Iisalmi, you are always close to nature. For me, the most effective way to switch off and unwind is to jump on a snowmobile in winter, or go boating on Lake Paloisjärvi in the summer. You might think that being close to nature means you are really far away from everything, but that’s not the case. It takes me about an hour to get from home to the departure gate at the airport.  My favourite place for relaxation after work is the hot tub in my backyard,” says Niiranen. 
Iisalmi is an active and lively regional city with easy access to a range of sports and recreational activities, as evidenced by Iisalmi’s third place in its size category in the LIVCY Most Liveable Cities ranking (Ramboll 2022).  Iisalmi ranked highest in the sports services index: Nationally, the top three locations in this category were Helsinki, Espoonlahti and Mikkeli, followed by Iisalmi in fourth place. Sports services cover all local sports facilities, gyms, courts and fields for ball games, swimming pools and beaches where you can swim. In Iisalmi, easy access to sports services is one of the factors contributing to residents’ everyday work-life balance and overall wellbeing. Iisalmi offers a wide range of other leisure activities in addition to sports.  

Tips from locals on how to de-stress and unwind: 

  • There are many ways to de-stress during the work day. If I have a phone meeting, I go outside and take a walk in the fresh air while taking part in the meeting.  — Noora Lankinen, Manager, Global Spare Part Operations, Normet Oy 
  • As soon as I get off work, I go out in the woods for a bike ride or to go skiing. In Iisalmi, you can enjoy an instant change of scenery as there are numerous cycle routes and ski trails with starting points in the city centre. — Krisjanis Jurans, Technical Support Specialist, Ponsse Oyj 
  • A dip in the lake, preferably at your own beach. Doing something different in a different environment helps to get your mind off work. — Katri Savolainen, CEO, Engineering Company Savolainen Oy 

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