Constant pressure at work grinding Finns down
Excessive haste nudges people into early retirement, a fresh study reveals
In the working life of the Finns, one sentiment seems to be shared by everybody: the sense of haste.
But addressing the issue of constant haste and urgency for example by making changes to working conditions is still very rare, reveals a newly-published study by the Finnish Centre for Pensions (ETK).
According to the study, employers take notice of the employees’ coping with work better than before. Still, a third of the interviewed workers felt that nothing had been done in their working environment to address the situation.
The psychological burdening of work has increased steadily since the 1980s in every sector, but most of all among the municipal and government employees, the report reveals.
Physically, however, today’s jobs are perceived as less demanding.
“The sense of constant haste and the number of workers in relation to the tasks to be performed have an effect on mental coping with work. The incessant hurry has become a problem, especially in the municipal sector”, says one of the compilers of the report, research and development director Pauli Forma of the Local Government Pensions Institution.
The most hectic are the health care and social fields, in which around 60 per cent of the workers say they have overstrained themselves because of the rush. These fields also have the most problems with finding workers for the open vacancies.
“For some reason nothing is done in the workplaces to alleviate the haste. The thinking through of various solutions ends once it is established that there are no resources to hire more staff”, Forma says.
“More should be done in terms of coming up with alternative solutions, such as restructuring tasks and rationalising work processes. The haste can be eased and productivity increased when work processes become more fluent.”
The ETK study looked into the retirement plans and the view on working conditions of 45-64-year-old wage earners. Excessive hurry and uncertainty, such as the threat of being made redundant, increased people’s desire to take early retirement.
Retiring before the age of 63, however, interested the participants less and less. When in 2003 every second person envisioned retiring before the age of 63, in 2008 only one in three had such aspirations.
This development was uniform in all different wage-earner groups.
The limit of old-age pension was changed five years ago from 65 to 63-68. At the same time the limit for early old age retirement was lifted from 60 to 62.
“The change in people’s plans speaks of the fact that the information regarding the amendments to retirement legislation has been well perceived. Extensive campaigns talking about people staying in employment for longer have had an effect on attitudes”, ETK research director Eila Tuominen interprets.
Presently Finns enter into old-age retirement in the average age of 63.4 years. When those retired early or on disability pension are included, the average age of entering into retirement drops down to 59.8 years of age.
The government aspires to add three years to this figure by the year 2025.
According to ETK this figure is likely to increase, for the studied retirement visions reflect also the actual behaviour.
A slightly larger pension later on does not attract Finnish people to hang on to employment that little bit longer, the study establishes. Most people plan to retire at the latest at the age of 63, even if continuing to work would earn them a larger pension later on.
“Economic incentives alone are not enough. What is important is that people feel that their work is meaningful and appreciated and that there is not undue haste and pressure, which might increase the attractiveness of early retirement”, Tuominen concludes.
Previously in HS International Edition:
More than half of young people fear future at work and have doubts about coping (19.3.2009)
Poll: rise in retirement age sparks anger, but is no surprise (6.3.2009)
Vanhanen heavily criticised in Parliament over retirement age (6.3.2009)