Finnish Institute of Occupational Health media release 23 May 2023
Workplace practices have to become environmentally sustainable in order to mitigate climate change. The Climate Change and Work questionnaire survey collected employees’ views on the occurrences of sustainability measures that promote green transition at their own workplace.
“Data collected from employees sheds light on changes that have already taken place in the daily activities at workplaces. Involving employees in decision-making related to the green transition increases acceptance of measures and improves efficiency,” says Researcher Fanni Moilanen from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
Less than a fifth of workplaces has taken sustainability measures
Only 10–20 percent of respondents identified existing sustainability measures carried out at their workplace. Sustainability measures were most common in manufacturing, construction, the energy and HVAC sector, as well as vehicle and property maintenance. Sustainability measures were less common in the social services and health care sectors, commerce, and HORECA sectors/hotel and restaurant sectors.
“The negative climate and environmental impact can be more significant in manufacturing and the energy sector compared with other areas. However, practices in all sectors must become more environmentally sustainable. This also applies to the social services and health care sector, where resourcing issues could slow down changes needed for the green transition. As such, further research on sector-specific sustainability challenges is needed,” says Tuomo Alasoini, Research Professor for the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
Guidelines on more sustainable operating methods have already been offered at workplaces. Three out of four respondents reported having received instruction on recycling, sorting and reusing. A third of respondents reported receiving energy-saving instructions.
Expectations and views vary between men and women
Women report sustainability measures at their workplace less frequently than men. This is the case even though a higher percentage of women expect their workplace to act in ways that mitigate climate change.
“More active measures for promoting the green transition in female-dominated sectors would align better with women’s expectations regarding workplace practices. Better communication about measures that have already been carried out is also needed, because not all respondents were aware of the sustainability measures they were asked about,” says Researcher Fanni Moilanen from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
Do supervisors have more information or a more positive view of the employer?
People in supervisory positions reported their workplace having guidelines related to sustainability more often than other respondents.
“Supervisors will often have more information than other employees regarding the goals and action plans of the workplace, which would seem to also apply to guidelines for sustainable operations. New instructions need to reach all employees in order to ensure that they are established as part of daily operations,” says Senior Specialist Arja Ala-Laurinaho from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
Supervisors also assess the attitudes of their employer more favourably compared to other respondents. More than one in five supervisors estimated that their employer would intervene in operating procedures that are harmful for the climate. Of all respondents, only one in six agreed with this assessment.
Research project: Climate Change and Work – systematic collection of data on the impact of climate change on work life
The project studies and develops indicators for assessing the impact of climate change on work life. The results provide a snapshot of the changes occurring in work life caused by climate change and the green transition.
The Climate Change and Work survey was carried out for the first time in spring 2022. The survey will be repeated in mid-2020s and there are plans to include it in the continuous data collection processes of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
A total of 1,917 employees from different sectors responded to the survey in spring 2022. The data was collected in co-operation with Statistics Finland.
The survey results are published in the Work-Life Knowledge service, where you can find the data in Finnish, Swedish and English
Researcher Fanni Moilanen, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, fanni.moilanen [at] ttl.fi (fanni[dot]moilanen[at]ttl[dot]fi), +358 50 576 1356
Research Professor Tuomo Alasoini, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, tuomo.alasoini [at] ttl.fi (tuomo[dot]alasoini[at]ttl[dot]fi), +358 50 564 6140
Senior Specialist Arja Ala-Laurinaho, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, arja.ala-laurinaho [at] ttl.fi (arja[dot]ala-laurinaho[at]ttl[dot]fi), +358 40 562 0906