The most recent findings from the follow-up study reinforce the picture of how well-being at work has developed during the pandemic as of the beginning of summer 2021. As a whole, the exceptional period has pushed the limits of well-being of young adults at work.
From the end of 2019 to summer 2021, the rates of boredom at work and symptoms of job burnout have increased noticeably for employees under 36 years of age, whereas rates of boredom at work and symptoms of job burnout have increased only slightly for employees over 36 years of age. For the older group, work engagement and work ability have even improved in the same timespan.
Cynicism and boredom at work have increased
“For some, the amount of work and related rush may have increased, whereas for others, additional stress may have been a result of a narrowed job description and distancing from co-workers due to extended remote working. Both of these factors may increase negative experiences from work and negative attitudes towards the work. At the same time, there are still clearly more positive emotions and excitement related to work,” says Janne Kaltiainen, Specialist Researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
The most obvious and detrimental change related to well-being at work has been the increase in rates of boredom. The phenomenon should be taken seriously and reacted upon.
“For people who are doing a lot of remote work in particular, the work may have provided over-stimulation in the form of constant video conferences and under-stimulation in the form of repetitive working days and lack of genuinely meeting people. When making immediate post-COVID-19 work arrangements, the workplace should consider that an adequate amount of in-office work seems to be important for finding meaningfulness in the work,” says Jari Hakanen, Research Professor at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
Active communication is important for young employees
Young employees in particular need support during times when the work is divided between remote, in-office and partly hybrid work.
“Work community integration is important, especially for young people at the start of their working career and for employees entering a new workplace. Continuous and mandatory remote work has its own challenges in relation to this. In such cases, active communication and making visible the positive results from the work to the young employee, for example, through providing constructive feedback, becomes essential. Fewer young people felt that they could see the positive result from their work than did other groups,” Kaltiainen points out.
Hybrid work improves work engagement and trust in supervisors
According to the study, the differences in well-being between hybrid work and other work arrangements are small and statistically insignificant as of June 2021. The more comprehensive data from the ‘Miten voit?’ well-being at work study also supports the finding: employees feel a higher degree of work engagement and less boredom at work in hybrid work.
The study seems to indicate that there is a higher degree of trust in co-workers in hybrid work than in remote work. Management has also performed well, which is a credit to the entire personnel.
“The well-being of management personnel has remained at a good level during the pandemic. This may have been a factor in maintaining a high degree of trust towards management personnel and the workplace regardless of whether the work is in-office, remote or hybrid work. The possibilities in remote work management are revealed in that remote workers feel that they have received support from their supervisor more often than during in-office work,” Hakanen points out.
The findings from the ‘Miten Suomi voi?’ study presented here are based on statistical analysis from two survey data sets. Taloustutkimus, commissioned by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, conducted the surveys whose data was collected from employed Finnish people aged 18–65. The follow-up data collected responses, on average, every six months between December 2019 and June 2021. There were 542 respondents. The follow-up gave unique insights on the development of experiences spanning from the pre-COVID-19 period to the COVID-19 period. Two random samples were also collected from different respondents. There were 1567 respondents at the end of 2019 and 1418 respondents in the summer of 2021. This way, the study was able to collect a larger quantity of detailed information between the situation of different respondent groups, such as young people, during specific time periods.
Learn more about the research results on the project webpage Miten Suomi voi? – Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (ttl.fi)
In the slide series presenting the research results also provides tips and tools for workplaces, managers, supervisors and employees.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT
Janne Kaltiainen, Specialist Researcher, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, tel. +358 50 476 5980, janne.kaltiainen[at]ttl.fi
Jari Hakanen, Research Professor, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, tel. +358 40 562 5433, jari.hakanen[at]ttl.
Salla Toppinen-Tanner, Director, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, tel. +358 46 851 2517, salla.toppinen-tanner[at]ttl.fi