05-12-2022 09:20

‘A little help can lead to a lot’ – how Nordea employees volunteered in 2022

More and more Nordea employees are choosing to contribute through volunteering. In 2022 over 1,750 colleagues participated in a community engagement programme, with over half of them supporting refugees. Those who participated say the experience is rewarding – and that even a little help can go far.
Joonas Niemi, financial advisor at Nordea.
Financial Advisor Joonas Niemi volunteered by helping to improve children’s financial skills.

A new wave of the pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rising inflation and higher interest rates. 2022 has been an eventful and unpredictable year.

2022 will also be remembered as a big year for community engagement at Nordea.

During the first ten months of the year approximately 1,750 Nordea colleagues stepped up to help those in need, using their 16 hours of volunteering leave per year. While previously seen primarily as an employee benefit, colleagues across all business areas and countries are now seizing the opportunity to contribute.

“I think the rise in community engagement is partly due to the fact that’s we’re finally able to meet up face-to-face again after the pandemic-related lockdowns – and partly due to the recent geopolitical events,” explains Anna Kosonen, who leads Nordea’s community engagement activities.

“After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, our refugee programmes in particular have seen a lot of activity this year, with over half of all volunteers choosing to help refugees.”

Through over 20 volunteering programmes and partnerships, there are three main ways that employees can volunteer at Nordea – through supporting refugees, fostering entrepreneurship, or teaching digital and financial skills.

Anna Kosonen (right), with Kristiina Oja and Andrzej Pyszyński, helped Ukrainian refugees in Poland.
Ewa Kamińska taught refugees English and Polish language skills.

Language skills for refugees

When details about a new refugee programme appeared on our internal news page, Expert IT Analyst Ewa Kamińska from Corporate Banking & International Units was quick to sign up.

“It was nothing new for me, as I already had experience teaching Polish to Ukrainians,” says Ewa Kamińska.

Upon joining the programme, she began supporting Ukrainian and Belarusian refugees in Sopot, where she helped improve their English and Polish language skills. Each class had a different topic – like Polish holidays, for example. Refugees could then choose to sign up depending on their interest. “The idea was to engage them on topics they could relate to,” she explains.

“I learned a lot from our conversations. I learned about their traditions, points of view, anecdotes and jokes. Sometimes they even knew Polish history better than I did! I wasn’t really aware of how interesting Polish traditions and holidays are – and when preparing for the classes, I realised just how interesting they truly are. How interesting my country is, actually. And how much we have to offer.”

She encourages all of her peers to try volunteering. “You only need a few hours to help someone get better at something, and it doesn’t require any special or advanced skills. People always wonder if what they give will matter. But every small bit matters.”

Josefine talking to one of the start-ups at Norrsken, Ponture, a company with a mission to drive financial inclusion.

Brainstorming with entrepreneurs

Josefine Lind Andersson is Editor-in-Chief at Nordea’s Group Marketing & Channels. During 2022 she volunteered twice with Norrsken, a non-profit foundation in Sweden that supports entrepreneurs.

Norrsken saw Josefine Lind Andersson as a good fit for their Elevate programme due to her expertise in social media marketing and digital content strategy. Entrepreneurs booked timeslots during an afternoon when they sat together in a room and bounced ideas related to their branding goals.

“I like Norrsken,” she says. “They have so many good business ideas that sometimes just need to be more visible. I learned more and more about my own area, too. About all the different ways you can use social media. It’s also very important to go out and see other businesses, especially for those of us who don’t have direct customer interaction.”

When asked if she would recommend the programme, she says yes.

“It’s really invigorating and energy-giving, and it feels like I’m contributing to their journey. There are tonnes of things we can do to help them, and it doesn’t always require much. A little help can lead to a lot.”

Antti Tolonen, facilitated 'money' workshops for fourth-grade students.

Teaching kids the value of money

Antti Tolonen, Head of Personal Banking Hyvinkää-Hämeenlinna, has been volunteering with Nordea since 2019. During the autumn of 2022 he volunteered straight from his desk at the Hämeenlinna office in Finland.

Over Teams, he and his colleagues remotely facilitated 45-minute workshops for fourth-grade students. Together they discussed the prices of everyday food items, and how taking the time to choose products carefully can make a big impact on your finances.

I have three children who are around the same age, so I find it really important that all children have the equal right to learn about basic everyday economics,” he says, and encourages his colleagues to volunteer:

“Nordea is quite a big company. If we decide to do something like educate children about household and everyday economics, we can really make a difference.”

Caring for our communities

Through the community engagement programmes and partnerships, Nordea employees engage in societies by training participants to build successful financial lives, use digital tools for daily banking and start and grow their own companies.

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