Office workers in Helsinki. LEHTIKUVA


A recent study from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health has highlighted a paradox in the Finnish workforce: individuals over 55 report higher work engagement and well-being compared to their younger counterparts, yet face significant obstacles due to age-related biases. The Institute urges workplaces to take active steps in supporting the careers of their more seasoned staff.

According to the "How is Finland doing?" study presented at the Työpuntari event, workers aged 55 and above experience more autonomy and less physical strain, contributing to less monotony and higher overall job satisfaction. These findings contradict the prevalent assumption that older workers struggle more with work demands. Research Professor Mikko Härmä of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health noted that senior employees usually report fewer work-related stress factors and possess more robust resources than younger workers.

Despite these positive aspects, Mervi Ruokolainen, Specialist Researcher at the Institute, points out the irony that individuals over 55 find it particularly challenging to regain employment after job loss. Prevalent negative attitudes and stereotypes about age in the workplace are major barriers preventing these experienced workers from continuing their professional journeys.

The Institute's research also sheds light on the importance of balancing work with caregiving duties, especially as the population ages. Flexibility in working hours and the ability to influence one’s schedule are crucial for employees juggling job responsibilities and caregiving for elderly relatives.

In response to these findings, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health recommends several strategies to better integrate older employees into the workforce and extend their working careers. These include:

  1. Adapting job roles and responsibilities to leverage the skills and strengths of experienced employees.
  2. Implementing work shift planning that emphasizes proper recovery times.
  3. Encouraging the transfer of knowledge from seasoned workers to younger colleagues, potentially through mentoring roles.
  4. Training supervisors in age management to shift attitudes and language around aging in the workplace.
  5. Supporting older workers in setting their career goals and offering work-life balance solutions that accommodate caregiving responsibilities.
  6. Reforming recruitment practices to eliminate age discrimination.

This comprehensive approach aims not only to enhance the work life of older employees but also to harness their valuable skills and experiences for organizational development. The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health emphasizes that these measures are not just beneficial for the workers themselves, but for the health of the Finnish workforce and economy at large.