Trade Union News from Finland

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FROM FINLAND 1997-2013

MAAILMALTA 1999-2013














Summary - Working in Finland:
Changes in work and working conditions 1997–2009

Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (23.03.2010) There are many gateways to and from work. The economic structure and competitiveness of the trade cycle at any given time determine the type of work on offer. Workplace conditions and personal experiences influence the extent to which people want to work when they have a choice. The health care and social security system largely determines whether someone will return to work after a long absence due to illness or unemployment. This book examines the different aspects of work, health and work participation as well as their developments in recent years, mainly on the basis of the Work and Health Survey conducted by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

At the end of 2009, Finland’s population was around 5.3 million, of which approximately 150 000 – almost 3% were foreign citizens. The year 2008 saw an improvement in the economic situation and employment, with the employment rate among persons aged 15 to 64 rising to over 70%. However, the economic downturn in 2009 reduced employment. According to the Statistics Finland Labour Force Survey, 2.4 million were employed in September 2009 - a rate of 68%, about 3 percentage points lower than the previous year. Young people were mostly affected. Almost 200 000 people were unemployed in September 2009, which was 34 000 more than a year earlier. An unemployment rate of 9% was forecast for the end of the year. Although there are some signs of recovery, unemployment is predicted to increase further in 2010.

Each working person took an average of 10 sickness days per year (Statistics Finland, Labour Force Survey 2008). This amounts to 25 million sickness days a year, the equivalent to 120 000 person-work-years. By the end of 2009, just over 270 000 people were on a disability pension.

The national target of increased work participation showed good progress until 2008, when the recession halted the trend of lengthened careers. Those in the older age groups are under pressure to quit work life, and it is harder than ever to find work when people are unemployed during a recession. It is now more difficult for young people to access the labour market, which is something that may later affect their careers. However, as social security seems a more uncertain option, people want to stay at work longer; attitudes to staying at work have changed. According to the Work and Health Survey, 42% of those employed, and over the age of 45 said in 2006 that nothing would persuade them to continue working beyond the age of 63, whereas in 2009, the number of those with the same response had declined by 6%. Health and economic factors were still thought to be the main considerations for continuing in employment, but in the last three years, the content of work and its potential for flexibility has also become important.

The work environment

Still too many accidents

Accidents at work are still common, although the situation has slightly improved in the 2000s. When this document was being compiled, the registered data available covered the period until 2007. In 2007, insurance companies compensated approximately 56 000 employees for occupational accidents resulting in incapacity to work for over three days. The accident rate per thousand employees fell slightly between 2000 (28.0) and 2007 (26.7). Altogether, there were about 150 000 occupational accidents in Finland in 2007. Of these, some 19 000 occurred while commuting.

A total of 47 persons died in occupational accidents in 2007, 16 of these while commuting. Nearly three out of four occupational accidents happened to men, and the risk of occupational accidents was highest among young men aged 15-24. The most hazardous sectors in 2007 were construction, the food industry, carpentry, engineering works, construction metal work, agriculture, and animal husbandry. According to the Work and Health Survey, there was a decline in occupational accidents between 2006 and 2009. The main explanation for this is the economic downturn, which resulted in fewer people in work life in general. One in seven respondents felt they were at major risk of an accident at their workplace. This response was most common in the construction and service industries, and might well reflect a real increased risk of accidents due to pressure at work in these sectors.

It is important to look into the causes of occupational accidents, especially serious ones, and to try to prevent them. Apart from the human suffering they cause, they also result in productivity losses and huge costs to the country’s economy. In Finland, serious occupational accidents cause direct losses to society amounting to more than €100 million a year, when the average cost of one serious occupational accident is estimated at €10 000. Overall, occupational accidents result in direct costs to the country’s economy of some €600 million each year.

Violence and threat of violence on the increase

The Work and Health Survey revealed that physical violence and the threat of physical violence at the workplace increased between 2006 and 2009, among both men and women. Those aged between 45 and 54 are at greatest risk, with one in eight becoming a victim. Violence and the threat of violence mainly increased in the health and social services sector, and in public administration.

Slight fall in exposure to noise and vibration

Approximately 1.5 million employees are exposed to physical risks such as noise, vibration, exceptional temperature conditions, and radiation in their work environment. Nevertheless, the Work and Health Survey revealed that the number of those exposed to noise and vibration has fallen in recent years, although it still affects around half a million people. Agriculture and forestry, the wood industry, and construction were the main sectors in which people were exposed to noise and vibration, often at the same time. In a survey in 2009 one in four respondents claimed that sometimes the noise was so loud at their workplace that people could not be heard even when they shouted. Noise still seems to be a major risk factor in the work environment, though the nature of the problem is changing. In areas of work where communication and the processing of information are crucial, the disruption caused by noise strains and hampers the work process. As the workforce ages, the number of those with impaired hearing is rising, and it is hard for them to cope in an environment dependent on voice communication.

Around 300 000 employees were exposed to the cold in 2009, and 42% of respondents complained of cold and draughts.

The majority of the population are exposed to small electromagnetic fields at work, at home, and during leisure time activities. However, no occupational diseases or more serious conditions were found among those exposed to large electromagnetic fields in industry. Exposure to ionizing radiation is carefully monitored; this may be the reason why serious injuries or cases of exposure have stopped growing in recent years.

Nearly 3000 occupational diseases annually due to chemical agents and dust

About half of the economically active population, or just over a million employees, are exposed to chemical substances or indoor air impurities at work. The incidence of exposure to chemical agents has not fallen significantly in recent years: in fact it would seem to be at the same level as earlier in the 2000s. A total of 23% of the respondents of the 2009 Work and Health Survey claimed to work with substances that were harmful to health. As previously, dust occurred in almost one in two work environments. It was mainly a problem in construction, agriculture and industry. Certain former exposure agents, such as quartz and creosote, have once again emerged as risk factors in the work environment. Quartz dust can cause silicosis and lung cancer in smaller concentrations than was once thought. Exposure to creosote has further increased since the ban on the wood protection agent, CCA, which was previously in common use. Various chemical factors and dust have been responsible for just short of 3 000 cases, or suspected cases, of occupational diseases every year, the majority of which have been skin diseases and asthma.

Poor quality indoor air – common problem

The quality of indoor air is of fundamental significance to the health of employees. Poor quality indoor air has an adverse effect on job satisfaction and, in the worst case scenario, impurities can cause occupational diseases. Draughts, dry or stuffy air, and dust are the most common causes of indoor climate-related problems in office workplaces, as reported by four out of ten of those who responded to the survey. Indoor air impurities can cause cancer (radon, asbestos, tobacco smoke), allergies (animal epithelia, dust mites, mould) or irritation (volatile organic compounds, dust, microbes). One in five employees in the health and social services sector and the education sector reported the smell of mould indoors at work. The Finnish Tobacco Act has done much to reduce exposure to tobacco smoke at work, and the exposure of restaurant employees has also decreased.

No decrease in the amount of physically demanding work

As in previous years, about one in four respondents regarded their work tasks as physically strenuous, and the proportion of women who think this has risen in particular. The amount of repetitive lifting of heavy loads has also increased. The number of repeated identical hand movements at work has also risen, again, especially among women. One in four employees still works in an awkward position for at least one hour a day. When examined by sector, work in awkward positions increased after 2006 among men employed in industry, and women in hotels and catering. Employees who mostly worked in awkward positions in 2009 were those in construction (48%), agriculture and forestry (46%), hotel and catering (39%), and the health and social services sector (38%). In 2009, 25% of men and 27% of women saw their jobs as either fairly or very physically strenuous, which is 4% more than in 2006. The biggest change had taken place among women working in industry. A third of respondents use a computer for more than four hours a day. The amount of work done on a computer has increased among men, but has remained the same among women.

Work organizations

Almost one in two workplaces undergoing changes

The tempo of change in work life has clearly increased in the past two decades. This is the result of various phenomena: the rapid advance of technology, the huge increase in knowledge, the emphasis on social skills, and internationalization. Just under half (46%) of employees in 2009 said that there had been changes at their own workplace in the previous three years that had altered the nature of their work, the tasks themselves, or the workload. Clerical workers felt that there had been more changes than manual workers. Most changes had taken place with regard to work content, which also has an effect work deadlines and locations. Flexibility in these areas is needed.

Overtime, weekend work and irregular working hours often relied on to meet need for flexibility in production and customer services

Four out of ten employees, women as well as men, are flexible in their working hours on a regular monthly basis if the job or their supervisor requires it. However, men, especially manual workers, clearly receive less overtime payment or time off in lieu than previously. Women (24%) now work overtime almost as often as men (29%). Individual flexibility with regard to working hours, i.e. the scope for regulating the length of the working day personally (flexitime) or working certain hours on another day, is less common than flexibility to meet the needs of production if the job or supervisor requires it. Only a third of employees are permitted to be flexible on a regular basis to suit their own needs.

Rise in teleworking levels out

Teleworking is one approach to flexibility concerning the place where one works. It is a diversified method of organizing work, where, in addition to flexibility regarding the place of work, there is often flexibility in terms of when the work gets done. Teleworking of this kind increased between 2003 and 2006, but after this, its growth tailed off. In 2009, 15% of employees carried out telework at least occasionally, men twice as often as women. Those who telework are usually highly educated and tend more often to be senior clerical staff. One in three employees work in a number of different locations and their work is mobile, men more frequently than women.

Greater focus on well-being at work

Managers’ interest in the health and well-being of their employees seems to be growing, although the situation varies from sector to sector and workplace to workplace. Furthermore, workplaces have more actively conducted surveys on workplace atmosphere and carried out work organization development projects, although more often in clerical sectors such as finance, than in production or construction. The features of work organization and managerial work, and workplace atmosphere have remained fairly good, as the level of the 2000s. Work targets were mainly clear to employees (97%), the majority of workplaces discussed them adequately (81%), and the majority of employees felt that their line manager treated employees fairly and impartially (63%).

The results of last decade’s survey reveal hardly no changes in the perception of mental strain and pressure at work. Feelings of strength and energy at work and interest in one’s job suggest a positive attitude to work, associated with well-being at work. A total of 56% of employees felt strong and energetic every day, or at least a few times a week. The corresponding figure was 52% in 2006. Women felt energetic more often than men in both years of the survey. However, although the extent to which people feel bullied at the workplace has not increased significantly, it has not declined either. One result causing concern was that the difference regarding feelings of bullying between the state and the private sector is more obvious than previously, as is the large amount of perceived harassment in education and the health and social services sector.

Multiculturalism at the workplace more common

Workplaces have become more multicultural. Nearly a third (30%) of employed Finnish people reported working with employees of an immigrant background in 2009. The state, local authorities, and the private sector employed equal numbers of migrants. People are most likely to have migrant co-workers in education (42%) and industry (40%), mainly in Southern and Western Finland.

Opinions regarding the impartial treatment of migrants has moved in a more positive direction at Finnish workplaces. In 2009, a total of 69% of employed Finns whose co-workers had migrant backgrounds also thought that migrants were treated fairly. The corresponding figure in 2006 was 59%. Unfair treatment was observed most frequently in the hotel and catering sectors (5%). The major challenges for multicultural workplaces included inadequate language and professional skills, friction arising from cultural differences, and differing opinions on gender roles in work life.

A third of women in senior positions

Finnish work life remains strongly differentiated by gender: men and women work in different professions, and have different roles. Vertical differentiation means the genderization of job status, and horizontal differentiation means that men and women tend to work in different sectors and jobs. Vertical differentiation has become less of a problem, as can be seen in the increase in the number of women in the legislator, senior official and manager occupational groups (32% in 2009). However, management remains very male-dominated: there are no visible signs of improvement in horizontal differentiation. Male occupational groups still include building, repairs and manufacturing (93% men), and process industries and transport (78% men). Female-dominatedoccupational groups are services, sales andcare work/nursing (83% women), and office work and customer services (80% women). In 2009, 72% of men, and 51% of women believedthat we live in a time of gender equality.

Work/life balance

The reconciliation of work and home/family life faces fewer obstacles than before. the number of work-family conflicts has fallen in recent years, at all stages of the family lifecycle. A total of 65% of those employed in 2009 felt that their home affairs hardly ever disturbed their concentration at work. Men thought this more than women. Similarly, nearly half were of the view that being at work hardly ever resulted in feelings that they were neglecting their family affairs. Of the professional groups, managers and senior officials particularly felt they neglected their home life, as did entrepreneurs and those in supervisory positions. In the survey, 9% of men and 40% of women in employment, who were either married or co-habiting and had a family, thought that they themselves looked after their children more than their partner, played with them more and, for example, drove them more often to daycare or to hobbies. Furthermore, women did housework more than men. In the 2009 survey, 6% of men and 53% of women claimed to do more housework than their partner. Thus, women more often take responsibility for looking after children and doing the housework, and this tends to tax their strength, making contribution to work life sometimes difficult.

Health and work ability of the working-age population

Considerable occupational variations in sickness absence

The number of sickness absences rose in the 2000s, although the trend seems to have levelled out in recent years. According to a Statistics Finland Labour Force Survey, the average number of sickness absence days was 10 per employee in 2008. The corresponding figure for 2006 was 8.5. In 2008, the average number of sickness absence days among employees of companies that were members of the Confederation of Finnish Industries was 11 days per employee. In statistics compiled by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland the same year, 16.3 million days were taken off work as sick leaves lasting over nine days.

There are considerable occupational variations in the number of sickness absences. The fewest, according to the Statistics Finland Labour Force Survey, are in management, data processing, administration and teaching. Most sickness absences occurred in children’s daycare, forestry work, the postal service, dressmaking and tailoring, the chemical process and cleaning industries. A working hour survey conducted by the Confederation of Finnish Industries showed that manual workers in industry took an average of 15 sick days a year, clerical staff just under 5 days, and manual workers and clerical staff in the service industries just under 11 days in 2008. According to a municipal sector follow-up study by the Institute of Occupational Health ("Kunta10" study), most who fall ill in the municipal sector are home helps and cleaners. Those off sick the least are doctors, specialists/experts, managers and heads of department, and special subject teachers. Sickness absences among municipal workers are no longer on the increase. Women are more frequently absent than men; a difference which has only increased in recent years.

The most common reasons for long periods of absence through illness are mental and musculoskeletal disorders. The Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has encouraged workplaces to establish clear practices for controlling sickness absences and the return to work. Nevertheless, there is little data on the number of workplaces with viable practices in place for controlling this.

Increase in number of disability pensions granted due to mental disorders, especially depression

A total of 272 000 Finnish citizens were already on a disability pension in 2007, and 28 200 were granted one. Those suffering from musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 29% of new disability pensions. The number of these pensions granted due to mental disorders has grown since the end of the 1990s, especially those for depression. In 2008, 34% of disability pensions were granted due to musculoskeletal disorders, and 30% were granted because of mental disorders. A total of 38% of all those receiving a disability pension did so because of a mental disorders. Although depression would not appear to be on the increase among the population in general, the extent to which depression symptoms affect contemporary work life has grown.

Majority of employees believe they will remain fit for work until retirement

The Work and Health Survey showed that around three-quarters of the working-age population were of the opinion that they would be fit for work in their present occupation until retirement. These opinions remained more or less unaltered over the period of 1997–2009. Those who carry out physically more strenuous work are less likely to believe they will be able to continue working until retirement than those who perform office-type work. A good half of those of working age have at least sometimes thought about taking early retirement.

More than half of those employed at the age of 45 or over, would consider staying on at work beyond the age of 63 if their health remains good (24%), they continue to be paid sufficiently well (23%), the work is interesting and challenging, they have a say in what goes on at work, they receive recognition for their work, and their job makes their life meaningful (20 %). A good third would not continue for any reason. Compared to 2006, more people were prepared to consider staying on at work.

One in seven employees with long-term illness impeding work ability

In 2009, over a third (38%) of those employed suffered from a long-term illness or lingering effects of an injury diagnosed by a doctor. One in seven long-term illnesses (36%) caused employees some inconvenience at work. These figures have remained almost the same since 1997. Managers and senior officials and the transport, telecommunications, and business to business service sectors had fewer employees with a long-term illness that caused problems at work, when compared to other groups.

The most common work-impeding long-term illnesses were musculoskeletal diseases. Around two-thirds of those employed said that they had suffered from long-term or recurrent musculoskeletal symptoms in the previous month. The most common complaints are to do with the neck and shoulders. Musculoskeletal symptoms are most common among women, those in the service industry, sales and care work, agriculture, forestry, and the health and social services sector.

Half of those employed had frequently suffered form a psychological problem; women more often than men. Exhaustion was the most (34%), and depression the least common (11%) of the psychological problems elicited. Depression was more common than other problems in office work, customer services and the financial sector. There was a decline in the incidence of psychological problems in the 2000s, though there was no change after 2006.

6 000 new occupational disease cases confirmed each year

Around 6 000 cases of occupational or suspected occupational disease are confirmed each year. The most common are noise injuries, skin diseases, and musculoskeletal disorders caused by strain. The highest proportion of occupational diseases is found among employees in the food industry.

Obesity, excessive alcohol consumption and insufficient sleep all pose risk to work ability

According to the Work and Health Survey, the percentage of the workforce who are overweight rose between 2006 and 2009. Obesity was most common among men in the construction, agricultural, transport and telecommunications sectors. The survey showed that 18% of women and 40% of men in employment were in the risk group as regards alcohol consumption. One in six employed people slept no more than six hours on working days: for men the figure was actually one in five, and for women one in seven. Approximately half of the Finnish workforce exercised at least three times a week, a number which has risen since 1997. One in four smoked, and a half had neversmoked.

Health risk management and promotion of workplace health

Slow progress in occupational safety and health

The Finnish Occupational Safety and Health Act is relatively well-known at the workplace, but the way in which many of its basic aspects have been implemented is still unsatisfactory. Managers, and others representing the employer, still lack the competence to implement the requirements of the Act in a practical way. Risk assessment has become a permanent feature of the development of occupational safety and health at the workplace, but its visibility and influence on management are still lacking.

Hardly any progress was made nationally in occupational safety and health in the 2000s, when measured against trends in occupational accidents and sickness absences. On the other hand, good examples of the impact of improved occupational safety and health have also been set. Separate studies suggest that workplaces are polarized as far as occupational safety and health are concerned. While the best organizations are actively developing this area, the weaker ones are at risk of a decline in standards.

Maintenance and promotion of work ability establish position in workplace development

According to the results of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health’s 2008 Barometer of Maintenance of Work Ability, people were aware of the efforts made to maintain and promote work ability, and these efforts were reasonable in terms of their quantity. According to the employers, more than 70% of those employed at workplaces with at least two members of staff had taken part in at least some maintenance of work actitivities. The development of workplaces seemed diverse, and comprehensively covered all the target areas for maintenance and promotion.

Respondents said that they firmly believed in the economic benefits to the workplace of maintenance of work ability activities and that they were very satisfied with the cost-relatedness of maintaining work ability. There was also a desire and intention to invest resources in these activities in the near future.

Most of the respondents were of the opinion that the amount of maintenance of work ability activities had become established. Larger workplaces were more active. Maintenance of work ability at workplaces with fewer staff had developed positively in many ways, but the respondents wanted to see far more in the way of specialised development and support.

More private clinics involved in occupational health care

A key phenomenon in the development of occupational health care at the present time is the structural change in the service system. Services and resources have been transferred to private medical centres, from which almost half the population receive services. At the same time, the municipal (local authority) system is working on its own changes. Municipal enterprises are big, well-resourced units, enabling provision of good quality services.

The number of occupational health care units has fallen since the start of the millennium, from around 1000 to 650; at the same time, the number of private medical centres has increased by 11%. These centres have seen an increase in the number of clients they cater for – a rise of 200 000 between 2004 and 2008. Municipal occupational health care (occupational health care offered by the local authorities) remains the sole service provider in 91 local authorities. Twenty-sevenlocal authorities have outsourced their services to the private sector, while 16 municipal enterprises have been set up. A total of 600 000 clients receive services from local authority occupational health care units, and these are the most common provider of occupational health services for small companies.

The Work and Health Survey suggests that the overall coverage of occupational health services has remained at its former level (92% of employees). The coverage for small organizations (1–9 staff) was also still at the same level as in the early 2000s (63%).

Structural change has not had a great effect on the functions produced. A total of 93% of employees with occupational health care cover are also able to receive medical treatment as part of their occupational health care. Patients consulted an occupational health care physician approximately twice a year. The working conditions of one in two employees were examined closely, and in two-thirds of cases, a health check had been carried out within the context of occupational health care in the past three years. Nurses and physiotherapists tend to visit the workplace whilst doctors are more likely to focus on medical treatment at the surgery/hospital.

Occupational health care has not succeeded in becoming more preventive in nature, and its effectiveness is still not adequately monitored.

Occupational safety and health administration and surveillance

In 2008, in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health’s Department for Occupational Safety and Health had 81 posts, and the occupational safety and health inspectorates employed 498 staff. Every year, surveillance is carried out at some 13 000 workplaces, about 5% of the total. Some 20 000 occupational health and safety inspections were carried out. Approximately 97% of the sites monitored employed fewer than 50 members of staff, and 85% of the inspections were carried out at such companies. In 2008, 64% of occupational safety and health inspectorate resources were used on surveillance on the initiative of the authorities, and 15% on the initiative of clients. A total of 18% were used on administration and support measures. Industry and construction were the main sectors inspected. As a result of regional governmental reforms, from the start of 2010, five areas of responsibility of occupational safety under Regional State Administrative Agencies will become regional occupational safety and health authorities (formerly the Occupational Health and Safety Inspectorate Office).

Varying trends among sectors

The nature of work and the distribution of the workforce are changing in Finland, along with increased employment in the service industry and the decline in traditional jobs in industry, agriculture and forestry. When comparing the size of the workforce in the main sectors, health care and social services overtook industry in 2009. Over half of the production of Finnish forestry companies now takes place outside Finland. Furthermore, mass production in ICT sectors, and the manufacture of its equipment and programming are all continually being shifted to countries where labour is cheaper. Finland now tends to focus more on research, product development and new product design.

The recession in 2008 and 2009 affected the volume of production in many branches of industry. Production in the forest industry clearly fell in 2008. Jobs in the metal industry have increased in number in recent years, but 2009 saw a downward trend in the turnover of companies, the number of new orders, and the number of staff employed. The growth in production in the chemical industry also came to a halt at the end of 2008. The number of those employed in the construction industry has grown in recent years, despite the economic downturn in 2009 leading to a fall in production and employment. The recession and the structural change in industry also affected transportation adversely and led to uncertainty about the future of the transport sector.

The number of jobs in the health and social services sector, on the other hand, is rising steadily the whole time. The industry now employs 15% of the Finnish workforce. Although it is mainly a public sector operation, the number of private service providers grew in the 2000s. Now 28% of employed women in Finland work in the health and social services sector, to which major structural and functional changes have been introduced. These are linked to reforms in the municipal structure.

Jobs in the public sector were typically temporary. One third of employees in education and one quarter of those in the health and social services sector was on a temporary contract of employment. Furthermore, atypical working hours were common in the health ser-vice sector, but the number of those who did shift work, for example, varied enormously from one area of the industry to another. Around 80% of employees in homes for the elderly and in health centre wards worked shifts.

According to the 2009 Work and Health Survey, there were still a great many of the old type of occupational safety and health risks in industrial work, and many factors posing danger were often simultaneous. For example, in the food industry, noise, the cold, heavy lifting operations, repeated identical movements, pressure and draughts were all considered a problem. In branches of the metal industry, noise and different types of dust were the major risk factors. Workers in the metal industry also continued to be exposed to agents that posed a risk of cancer, most commonly chromium(VI) and nickel compounds. Work in the metal industry often calls for muscular strength and involves repeated movements and awkward working positions. On the other hand, information technology wisas being increasingly used in the industry, and almost everyone uses IT equipment such as microcomputers and data terminal equipment in their job. Branches of industry prone to the risk of occupational diseases included the manufacture of leather products, pulp and paper production, vehicle manufacture, food and drink production, the manufacture of metal products, and mechanical wood processing. In 2007, there were 35 occupational accidents per 1000 employees that resulted in absences from work lasting more than three days.

The corresponding accident rate in construction was 74. Construction work is prone to all sorts of problems and is physically exhausting. Typical negative factors included working above shoulder level, strenuous manual work, and repeated movements. Builders also complained more often about dust, the cold, draughts, noise and inadequate lighting. Occupational health care was available to only 76% of workers, but this extended to medical treatment in only 67% of cases.

Remarks were made about the challenges facing occupational safety and health in road transport. These included irregular working hours, night work and long work commitments. The main health risks to drivers were irregular and unhealthy eating habits and meal times, heavy smoking habits, obesity, and insufficient physical exercise, which is linked to problems of remaining alert whilst working, sleeping problems, and stress. They felt that they required the ability to work alone and make decisions independently. Looking after valuable loads and being aware of work and traffic safety meant that they had responsibilities. The physical strain of driving in traffic abroad was aggravated by the threat of violence. Road transport has no systematic health inspections, and driving ability is only generally assessed by means of age checks under the EU Driving Licence Directive.

The survey revealed that pressure in the ICT industry adversely affected nearly half of employees, and more than 60% reported that they experienced continual interruptions at work. Over 30% felt that their job was either fairly or very mentally stressful. The atmosphere at work in this sector, however, was mainly motivating and stimulating. Multinational projects in which teams are made up of people working in different countries influence working methods. Work mobility and independence in terms of time and place were very common.

According to the survey, jobs in the health and social services sector involved a great deal of mental and physical stress factors. Pressure put a strain on employees and work was considered mentally stressful. Satisfaction with the way in which work was managed and organized had declined. It seemed that there were also fewer opportunities to influence how things were done. Opportunities for having a say in working hours or the length of the working day were few. Jobs often involved difficult or uncomfortable working positions, heavy lifting and repeated identical movements. Fear of violence was rising, and violent situations at work were more common than in other sectors. Despite the stress factors associated with the work however, health and social services personnel were generally satisfied with their jobs. This was largely due to the rewards and sense of satisfaction they gained from working with their clients. The sector offers people the opportunity to enjoy success, and working with clients and patients is experienced as pleasurable.

The survey showed that education was a more stressful sector than any other. Situations that gave rise to negative feelings were more common than elsewhere, which was also true of psychological violence and harassment, which had doubled compared to 2006. Psychological violence and bullying mostly came from co-workers, both superiors and subordinates (60%), but also from pupils or their parents (40%). Many studies have found that there is scope for improvement in the maintenance of school buildings and the ventilation of teaching areas, to acoustics, teaching aids and furnishings. In addition, teachers often lacked a personal workpace and classrooms were cramped.

The future

The post-war baby boom generation has reached the age of retirement. Because younger age groups approaching working age are considerably smaller, the total working-age population will clearly fall in the decades to come, and the population dependency ratio will become far more unfavourable. The recession hits Finland at an awkward time, because the employment rate should now be raised as high as possible.

According to the data and studies presented in this book, work is still an important value for Finns. Finnish people like working, providing that they are physically able to. There is a more positive attitude to continuing in employment beyond the age of 63, especially if the work is perceived as meaningful, and age-related matters are taken into consideration at the workplace. What matters most to Finns in their work is that the job is interesting, that they can work independently, that they have good relationships with their co-workers, and that the workplace atmosphere is generally good. Finns do not like to be treated unfairly or to be humiliated. Nor do they like to be put under undue pressure to meet targets or suffer inferior working conditions.

Experiences of efforts to develop work life in the 2000s show that work ability and well-being at work can be improved in such a way that the measures involved can be measured against tangible results: fewer accidents in companies, investment in well-being at work to reduce absences and improve productivity, and higher rates of employment for the economy. Neglecting the work ability and well-being of employees is a short-sighted way to save money even during a recession, as social security costs the economy dearly. Such neglect only serves to make it harder for companies to recover when demand increases, as a skilled workforce has been lost and collaboration is hampered by floundering work organizations. Occupational safety and occupational health care are excellent forums for controlling risks and developing well-being at work, and these should be exploited actively at the workplace at this moment in time.