Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on municipal sector work
The Kunta10 survey conducted by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health studied the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on work and well-being at work. The results show that the pandemic had an impact on the work of most respondents, both in a positive and a negative sense.
At the end of 2021, Statistics Finland reported on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on working conditions. At that time, the primary finding was that for a small number (14%), the pandemic had a mainly positive impact on their work, and for a fifth, it involved mainly negative changes. The majority of respondents (41%) said that the changes had been partly positive, partly negative. There were differences between women and men and between those who worked remotely and on-site during the crisis. The results also supported our own research results in the municipal sector, according to which different changes in work caused by the COVID-19 pandemic increased the polarization between people in different professions in terms of health and psychosocial well-being at work. There was reason to investigate the topic further, so we added a series of questions on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the respondent's work and well-being at work to the Kunta10 survey carried out in autumn 2022.
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Pandemia-ajan vaikutukset eri ammateissa
The results of the survey conducted in September to October 2022 (n=57 752, response rate 62%) showed that 58% of the respondents in the municipal sector felt that the pandemic had affected their work quite a bit or a lot and that the effects had mostly been negative. However, there were major differences between occupational groups: teachers, rescuers and social and health care professionals, such as nurses, practical nurses, doctors, social counsellors and advisors, reported negative effects more often than average. In office and customer service work and worker professions, the changes were more often seen as either neutral or positive.
The pandemic increased the stress or mental strain experienced especially by nurses, public health nurses, practical nurses and teachers, but also by doctors and other health care experts and managers. The pandemic also increased the general perception that infectious diseases are dangerous, especially among teachers and early childhood educators, but also among care workers.
On the other hand, the pandemic also changed how different professions are appreciated. The greatest increases in professional appreciation were reported by nurses, public health nurses (28%) and doctors (27%). This is well in line with the fact that the crisis was health-related. On the other hand, the pandemic affected society in general and 27% of those working in worker professions (sanitation, street cleaning, waste management) said that the pandemic increased the general appreciation towards their profession.
Of the respondents in the municipal sector, 14% felt that the pandemic and increased remote work made better work–life balance possible. This was particularly the case among those working in professions other than health care professionals, managers, office and customer service work and the social sector. Among upper secondary school teachers, 76% of whom had worked either fully or partly remotely during the pandemic, only 8% felt that the pandemic made it easier to balance work and family life. This finding is supported by our previous study, according to which switching to remote work mainly improved employee well-being, but this was not the case for teachers. Teaching work, therefore, probably has features that make remote work challenging.
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