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Extensive survey reveals: Municipalities are recommendable employers, although coronavirus placed a burden on employees

The findings of the Kunta10 survey conducted in autumn 2020 demonstrate that work communities are regarded to be well functioning and municipal employers worthy of recommendation despite the coronavirus. Because of the coronavirus, people in professions where remote work was possible started to work from home. These people had the feeling of having better control over their work.

According to the Kunta10 survey, work communities are regarded to be well functioning in municipalities. They have a lot of social capital, in other words trust towards the community, support, reciprocity and well-functioning networks. Leadership has improved in municipalities. In addition, the employer image of municipalities has improved in a positive direction: In 2020, 77% of the respondents working in the municipal sector would recommend their employer to a friend. Compared to two years ago, this is an increase of 4 percentage points.

Coronavirus year burdened professions in various ways 

The coronavirus pandemic had an impact on working arrangements in the municipal sector. Out of the respondents, 27% reported that they had started to work remotely part time because of the virus, and 18% had started to work remotely full time. Eight per cent reported that they had switched to other duties, either within their sector or in another sector. Five per cent reported that their team/work group had been reorganised.  Out of those who responded, 42% did not start to work remotely.

Those who started to work remotely reported that they had better opportunities to impact their working hours and the changes in their work. They also reported improved after-work recovery and control over one’s work. However, there were some differences between professions: For example, the remote work of teachers and special needs assistants did not have a lot of impact on the flexibility of their working hours. The people who switched to remote work were able to hold on to the empowering factors of their work communities, such as social capital, to a large extent.

Nursing employees and those working within care and education having a hard time

Differences between professional groups and impacts of the coronavirus can be seen in the long-term monitoring of working conditions and well-being at work. On the other hand, people in many professional sectors had experienced work-related stress and suffered from the threat of violence or actual violence already before the coronavirus.

According to the survey of autumn 2020, work-related stress was experienced by 39% of registered nurses and practical nurses, 33% of child carers and 38% of home carers.

Work-related stress was experienced by 38% of home carers. The situation has clearly improved over the last couple of years.

According to the survey conducted in 2018, work-related stress was experienced by 41% of registered nurses and practical nurses, 36% of child carers and 45% of home carers.

The pressure brought about by the coronavirus is reflected in the increased work-related stress experienced by registered nurses and practical nurses. In the 2020 survey, 38% of the respondents in these professions reported that they experience work-related stress. In 2018, the corresponding figure was 35%.

The increased work load in the nursing sector is accentuated by the fact that the amount of work-related stress experienced in the municipal sector has even slightly decreased compared with 2018. In 2020, work-related stress was experienced by 23% of all respondents.

Even so, people in many professional sectors experience a fairly high amount of work-related stress. In addition to the aforementioned sectors, 43% of kitchen assistants, 38% of institutional cleaners and 30% of drivers reported experiencing work-related stress, to mention a few examples.

Threat of violence still present in nursing and care and education sectors

Out of registered nurses and practical nurses, 70.8% of those who responded reported encountering violent or threatening clients. Out of the respondents, threats or violence had been experienced by 72.9% of special needs assistants, 62.6% of early childhood education and care teachers, and 52.9% of social advisors and youth leaders.

A total of 58.4% of special needs assistants, 46.1% of registered nurses and practical nurses, and 44.5% of child carers reported being hit and kicked.

Well over half of special needs assistants reported that they had been hit or kicked at work.

Although experiences of threats of violence have been decreasing since 2018, the numbers are still high in the nursing and care and education sectors.

Well-being of young people a cause for concern

The situation of young municipal sector employees has many worrying characteristics. Those under 30 still had the highest amount of work-related stress (a lot of work pressure, not a lot of control over one’s work). Equally, those under 30 reported the largest number of violence and threat situations and sexual harassment situations.

A worrying trend can also be witnessed in the capacity for work of under 40-year-olds: 23% of them estimated that their capacity for work is decreasing / has decreased. Compared with 2018, there was an increase of 4 percentage points, the largest increase viewed by age group.

Work-Life Knowledge Service provides more information on coronavirus impact:

The Kunta10 results and trends from 2016, 2018 and 2020 can be viewed by profession, age group and gender in the Work-Life Knowledge Service of Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. Learn about the survey results (in Finnish).

In the Work-Life Knowledge Service, you can also view how the coronavirus has impacted working arrangements: Impacts of coronavirus (in Finnish).

The Kunta10 survey is Finland’s most long-term and comprehensive municipal sector monitoring survey. The municipalities involved in the survey are Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Turku, Tampere, Oulu, Raisio, Naantali, Nokia, Valkeakoski and Virrat. The Kunta10 survey is conducted every two years. The survey covers nearly a quarter of municipal sector employees. The Kunta10 survey of 2020 had 65,128 municipal sector employee respondents (response rate 72%).