The well-being of workers in Finland has yet to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels, according to a study by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. The report, titled "How is Finland doing?" reveals that people experienced lower work ability and engagement in the summer of 2023 compared to late 2019. Although well-being no longer appears to be declining for those under 36, none of the measured aspects of well-being at work have improved. Occupational burnout and loneliness have both increased, posing significant societal challenges.
"None of the studied experiences of well-being at work have improved. At best, the decrease has leveled off over the last couple of years. The results do not provide much cause for joy. Decreasing the incidence of occupational burnout and loneliness, which has increased for many, will both pose significant societal challenges," says Jari Hakanen, Research Professor at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
The risk of occupational burnout has increased, especially for women, with approximately one in four employees belonging to a group at risk of burnout. This represents around 625,000 employees at an elevated risk of occupational burnout, with one in three experiencing severe symptoms.
The study also highlights diverging developments in well-being at work in hybrid and remote work settings. While hybrid work was initially seen as the best way to promote well-being, differences have evened out. Remote work can save time and resources but may lead to boredom and decreased meaningfulness.
Loneliness is more prevalent among young employees and is on the rise, particularly for men and in remote work settings. One in three remote workers now experiences loneliness.
The study emphasizes the importance of workplaces investing in employee well-being and developing working conditions through collaboration with employees. This includes increasing opportunities for on-the-job learning, fostering a sense of community, and avoiding unreasonable expectations or demands on employees.
"Workplaces can do a great deal to promote employee well-being. This is done by developing working conditions in co-operation with the employees. This could entail increasing the opportunities for learning on the job and maintaining a sense of community. We should also do our best to avoid posing unreasonable expectations or demands on employees," says Specialist Researcher Janne Kaltiainen.
In conclusion, the study underscores the need to address the challenges of occupational burnout and loneliness in the workforce and offers insights into improving the well-being of employees in different work environments.