Health & wellbeing

A recent study conducted by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health reveals a concerning trend in workplace stress factors. According to the occupational safety and health panel survey conducted in November 2023, a significant increase in stress due to constant work interruptions, excessive workload, and the need for constant availability has been reported among Finnish employees. The survey, which revisited the theme of psychosocial factors and their management from a 2016 study, indicates a growing psychosocial burden on workers.

The findings show that one in three employees now report constant interruptions at their workplace, up from one in four in 2016. Moreover, the pressure from an overwhelming amount of information and the demands of being always reachable have contributed to the stress levels experienced by employees.

Despite workplaces having effective measures for identifying stress factors, with 59% of respondents stating that a psychosocial stress factor risk assessment has been conducted, managing these stressors remains a significant challenge. Seventy-six percent of respondents found managing psychosocial workload to be very or fairly challenging, underscoring the complexity of addressing these issues in the workplace.

Senior Specialist Minna Toivanen from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health suggests focusing on the essentials as a strategy for mitigating workload stress. By clarifying priorities and discussing workload organization collectively, workplaces can aim to create a more manageable environment for employees.

The study also highlighted positive developments, such as a decrease in stress caused by constant changes at work, with only one in five respondents reporting it as a constant source of psychosocial workload, an improvement from 31 percent in 2016. Additionally, the social functionality of work communities in relation to stress factors has seen some improvement.

However, the challenge of managing stress factors persists, with different stressors requiring varied management methods. Hanna Uusitalo, another Senior Specialist at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, emphasizes the importance of fostering an open and confidential discussion atmosphere as a primary method for managing workload stress.

The survey underscores the importance of ongoing efforts to identify and manage workplace stressors effectively, highlighting the need for a concerted approach to addressing the psychosocial health of employees.