Working life, quality and change

The development of employment and the productivity of work has taken a positive turn after a long recession. The employment rate is already close to the level preceding the most recent economic crisis. The share of low-income workers has been decreasing in recent years and is currently at lower level than ever in the 1990s and 2000s. By contrast, the share of underemployed has been clearly increasing. There are no major changes in the numbers of employees who find their work emotionally or physically draining.

While employees’ possibilities for influencing their work have remained somewhat unchanged, an increasing number of employees feel able to learn new things in their work. The gender pay gap has only shrunk by four percentage points in the previous 20 years. Large and medium-sized enterprises take global responsibility into account in their activities better than previously.

Indicators selected by a network of experts

  1. The global responsibility of the working life
  2. Employment rate (Statistics Finland, Labour Force Survey)
  3. Good working life
  4. Women's average earnings compared to men's

Linkage to the objectives of Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development

Equal prospects for well-being
Sustainable employment
A carbon-neutral society
A resource-wise economy

Working life, quality and change 2021
The quality of working life remained stable despite the coronavirus pandemic; employment rate dropped and working hours decreased

5.1.2022 14.33
Kuvituskuva artikkeliin. Kuvassa naiset retkeilemässä ja istuvat kalliolla tietokone sylissä.
In 2020, the employment rate dropped, and the number of lay-offs rose to a record high due to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting restrictions. Employment recovered rapidly from the crisis, but the number of working hours remained low, which manifested itself as an increase in underemployment. Labour productivity has continued to develop poorly. The quality of working life remained stable when examining employees on average, but the workload of, for example, young people, people living alone and workers in the care sector has increased. There are significant differences in the quality of working life between different employee groups, which, if the pandemic continues, may increase further.

Working life, quality and change 2020
The state of working life was relatively good before the coronavirus crisis, the future is now uncertain

12.4.2021 10.32
In 2019, employment had increased to 74.1%, underemployment had declined and on-the-job learning had become more common. However, long-lasting poor labour productivity weakens the long-term sustainability of Finnish working life, and the mental burden on employees has increased. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic also poses a major threat to the quality and sustainability of working life.

Working life, quality and change 2019
Finland’s employment rate continues to grow, but the labour productivity is declining – experiences of overloading from work remain unchanged

6.3.2020 15.22
Employment has experienced very strong growth in Finland starting from 2016. Compared to the beginning of the 2000s, the share of underemployed workers of all employed people has increased considerably, whereas the share of low-income earners has shrunk. Physical and mental strain of work remains the same.

Working life, quality and change 2017
Employment, productivity and corporate responsibility are improving, but mental and physical work load remain at the same level

19.6.2018 14.31
The sustainability of working life and work can be examined from the viewpoints of the environment and the economy and from a social and a human perspective. Working life and work are on a sustainable basis when all these dimensions have been taken into account. Nature sets the limits for economic growth. Economic sustainability, in turn, ensures the availability of the welfare services and a good working life. This also works in the opposite direction: working conditions that support health, wellbeing and innovations also contribute to the success of the workplace. Social sustainability means that workers' rights, sufficient income and equality are ensured.