Sunborn Group

Close cooperation with Pihlajalinna lays the foundation for Sunborn employees’ well-being

Sunborn is a conglomerate focused on accommodation, restaurant and event services, operating mainly in Turku. Sunborn employs approximately 600 people in multiple companies in Finland. Sunborn’s occupational health partnership with Pihlajalinna began in spring 2023. Sunborn and Pihlajalinna share similar values and the aspiration to improve employees’ well-being at work.

Sunborn employs specialists in the hotel, event and restaurant sector as well as in health care and beauty care. Many of the Group’s employees work evenings and nights, and the work is often physically demanding.

“We were looking for an occupational health partner that understands the special needs of our business. Our employees face musculoskeletal problems and challenges related to ergonomics. In high season, the work can be hectic and stressful. Especially those working in customer service experience mental stress,” says Anne Horila, Sunborn Oy’s HR Manager.

Sunborn Group

·       Sunborn is a 50-year-old family business based in Turku. It specialises in accommodation and restaurant services as well as real property and event business.

·       The Group consists of 13 companies that employ approximately a total of 600 permanent or temporary employees and extra workers. For the summer season, Sunborn hires approximately 100 seasonal workers every year.

·       The largest businesses in the Sunborn Group include Naantali Spa & Hotel, Ruissalo Spa & Hotel, Logomo, the restaurant and catering services of Turku Castle and Savoy Theatre, and various festivals. The company also has yacht hotels in London and Gibraltar.

·       Sunborn’s values are commitment, openness, courage and the joy of working together.

·       Sunborn’s occupational health partnership with Pihlajalinna began in March 2023.



Pihlajalinna’s trump card is its wide range of services

Sunborn launched a competitive tendering for its occupational health services in autumn 2022 when its contract with the previous service provider was ending. The company’s main criterium for the new occupational health partner was service versatility. Sunborn was also convinced by Pihlajalinna’s occupational health promise – “We provide impactful care”.

“Like Sunborn, Pihlajalinna is deep down a family business. Commitment, openness and the joy of working together are our key values, and Pihlajalinna’s values emphasise ethicality, energy and open-mindedness. When it comes to occupational health services, it is of primary importance that the cooperation is seamless and our chemistries agree,” says Riikka Kuusniemi, CEO of Sunborn Oy.

Pihlajalinna provides Sunborn with expanded occupational health services, which include standard occupational health physician and nurse services, mental health services, physiotherapy, laboratory and vaccination services, and magnetic resonance imaging.

“The vaccination services were a great plus. We want to protect our gardeners against tick-borne diseases, for example. The service package also includes nice benefits, such as free dental examinations in the first year of contract, accident and emergency services, a sports benefit with Forever fitness centres and well-being packages for different target groups. We have already held a psychologist’s training day and ergonomics training for cleaners. Next, we will launch a well-being group for employees over 50,” Horila explains.


Clear service models and seamless communication ensure smooth cooperation

Pihlajalinna and Sunborn’s occupational health agreement entered into force on 1 March 2023. However, the cooperation began already in early 2023 with the establishment of various working groups at Pihlajalinna and with Sunborn’s personnel. The aim was to ensure that all contractual and operational guidelines, records and information were ready at the start of March.

“It always takes some time to coordinate different IT systems, which is why we want to start the background work early on. Sunborn was provided with a machine-coded interface, in which all employee and absence information of supervisor-permitted absences are updated automatically. Additionally, Sunborn supervisors have access to our work ability support application, which serves as a practical tool for implementing Sunborn’s early support model. The application contains all materials related to work ability and enables the real-time monitoring and reporting of individual employees’ work ability,” describes Maija Sirén, Account Manager at Pihlajalinna.

Horila is happy that the technology has worked well, and the work ability support application used by the supervisors and HR is easy to use. The personnel has also been satisfied with the Pihlajalinna Health App, through which they can easily book an appointment.

“Doctor’s appointments and upcoming appointments are easy to find in the app. Our employees have also praised the Worry in Mind service. The service offers low-threshold support for coping at work and other everyday crises,” says Horila.


Seamless and reliable support in work ability challenges

Pihlajalinna and Sunborn’s first year of collaboration has gone smoothly. Communication has been seamless and regular. Any problems have been solved quickly through cooperation.

“Pihlajalinna understands that for an organisation whose operations are concentrated so locally, it is important that the communication and meetings between occupational health and employees is coordinated well,” Horila says.

Horila also commends that Pihlajalinna nurses and physicians are easy to reach by phone and that they call Sunborn supervisors whenever necessary. Well-coordinated cooperation leads to smooth and fast care pathways.

“We do not yet have clear data on the partnership’s impact on the number of sickness absences, but it seems to me that Pihlajalinna has plenty of solutions to address the work ability challenges of our personnel. For example, we engage in active discussion to help high-risk employees with Pihlajalinna’s physicians,” Horila says.


Common goals and plans support occupational health cooperation

In addition to the cooperation between Pihlajalinna and Sunborn, it is important that the needs and goals of Sunborn’s pension insurance partner are taken into account. Sunborn’s pension insurance company is Elo, and it is now involved in the tripartite cooperation.

“Information obtained through the pension insurance company’s employee surveys can be utilised in Pihlajalinna’s future well-being and workplace surveys. The tripartite cooperation is valuable in work ability management as well,” Kuusniemi and Horila discuss.

It is also important that the parties can rely on privacy protection when discussing sensitive occupational health matters.

“Working together is at the heart of occupational health cooperation. There must be clear goals and shared plans to reach them. Active dialogue and genuine interest and ability to respond to difficult situations lay the foundation for long-term occupational health cooperation,” Kuusniemi sums up.


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