Project

Workload in the retail sector – from peak workloads to more fluent work

The research project provides an overview of workload in the retail sector. The project utilizes register data on working hours, occupational accidents and near misses provided by employers, survey and interview data concerning employees’ experiences of stress and measurements of heart rate variability and muscular load. Data on the mental and physical overall workload is a novelty in the retail sector. The project also examines recovery from work, peak workloads and preventive measures suitable for continuous use in workplaces.
Henkilö seisoo kylmävarastossa jugurttipurkkien ympärillä ja hymyilee.

Timetable

9/2023–12/2025

Objectives

The research part of the project has the overall objective of providing an overview of workload and recovery in the retail sector and examining which factors influence peak workloads.

The specific objective of the research is to:

  1. investigate workload and specifically peak workloads
  2. investigate recovery during the work shift and leisure time in stressful situations.
     

The development part of the project aims to promote the identification of such practical measures related to workload and recovery that are suitable for continuous use in daily work.

Objectives of the development part are to identify, together with the participating organizations:

  1. practical measures for managing daily workload
  2. practical measures for promoting recovery from work both during work and leisure time

Materials and techniques

Locations of Osuuskauppa Arina, Osuuskauppa Hämeenmaa, Kymen seudun osuuskauppa, Osuuskauppa PeeÄssä and Pirkanmaan osuuskauppa participate in the study.

Register data provided by the employer on working hours, occupational accidents and near misses will be collected for the participating locations of the ABC, Sale and Prisma chains of stores. Data is also collected by a survey conducted to all of the employees. We will carry out heart rate variability, muscular EMG measurements and interviews for a smaller subset of participants. The development part will include interviews and workshops for supervisors and employees. 

Results and effectiveness

We produce reliable data on workload in the retail sector. What is new in this project compared with previous research data, is the ability to combine data of more precise physical workload measurements to detailed day-to-day data about working hours, occupational accidents and near misses.

The research data will also be complemented with information obtained with surveys and interviews regarding the employees’ experiences of peak workloads and situations that are experienced as stressful. The survey will also produce information on employees’ experiences of psychosocial workload, recovery and solutions to enhance recovery.

This provides a comprehensive overview of overall workload and recovery, which provides a solid basis for workplaces to target their measures.

Effectiveness

The participating stores will use the results of the project to develop the support they provide for workload and recovery management. The retail sector constitutes service work, requires social skills and with the extension of opening hours the work is also carried out around the clock. All of this means that investigating stress factors and recovery in the retail sector both benefits the clients and boosts productivity in the sector.

Individual locations will receive feedback on their workload based on the results. Recommendations will also be provided on alternative working hours arrangements, organization of work, provision of social support and guidance at the workplace, taking into consideration the stressfulness of work.

Optimal working hours arrangements and work methods, that take into consideration workload, including peaks, can improve the well-being at work of retail sector employees, reduce the number of sickness absences and occupational accidents as well as improve the productivity of work. 

Research group

Annina Ropponen, Research Professor, researcher in charge of project and Project Manager

Senior Specialist Ilkka Asikainen

Specialist Researcher Eija Haukka

Chief Medical Officer Hanna Jantunen

Senior Specialist Maria Hirvonen

Nurse Nina Lapveteläinen

Researcher Joonas Poutanen

Senior Specialist Joonas Poutanen

Researcher Pihla Säynäjäkangas

Partners

Osuuskauppa Arina, Osuuskauppa Hämeenmaa, Kymen seudun osuuskauppa, Osuuskauppa PeeÄssä and Pirkanmaan osuuskauppa

Funded by

The Finnish Work Environment Fund, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Osuuskauppa Arina, Osuuskauppa Hämeenmaa, Kymen seudun osuuskauppa, Osuuskauppa PeeÄssä and Pirkanmaan osuuskauppa

Contact us

Annina Ropponen

Annina Ropponen

Email
Annina.Ropponen [at] ttl.fi
Phone
+358 30 474 2012