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Working Life Barometer 2019: Employee confidence in their ability to keep their jobs increased just before the coronavirus outbreak

Publication date 26.5.2020 9.10
Press release

Preliminary data on the Working Life Barometer reveals many positive developments in working life in 2019. Naturally, the results for 2019 do not reflect the coronavirus crisis.

The responses clearly reflected the positive signs seen in the economy last year. Compared to 2018, the number of employees in the workplace increased, the threat of dismissal diminished, and respondents felt more confident about their ability to keep their jobs.

The majority (83%) of wage and salary earners considered learning opportunities in the workplace to be good. Similarly, the majority (80%) felt that systematic efforts were being made in the workplace to promote skills and competence development. Although the results showed no major changes from 2018, the long-term trend has been very positive.

Participation in training, the number of training days, and studying at work decreased slightly from 2018. A notable development from the previous study was the clearly larger number of wage and salary earners that had developed their skills and competence to such an extent they would be able to take up a new job in the future.  

In 2019, as many as half of the wage and salary earners said the purpose of their upskilling was to expand job opportunities compared to 39 per cent in 2018.

“The fact that skills and competence development increased in all age and socio-economic groups is a very welcome change. It means employees are now better equipped to cope with the sudden transformation the coronavirus outbreak is causing in working life,” says Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen.

Remote work increasingly common year after year

Even though the coverage of flexible working time systems has not essentially increased from 2018, flexible work arrangements and remote work have become more common. In 2019, remote work was a regular arrangement for about one out of four (23%) wage and salary earners, and an occasional arrangement for less than one sixth (14%). 

The differences between socio-economic groups were more notable: remote work was clearly more common among higher-ranking salaried employees than for lower-ranking, or among manual workers.  Remote work was considerably more common among government employees than in other sectors.

“The results of the Working Life Barometer 2019 strongly highlight the differences in remote work arising from socio-economic status. In these current circumstances brought on by the coronavirus epidemic, we must bear in mind that there are a number of jobs in which remote work is impossible.  We must take steps to ensure that the coronavirus crisis will not fuel inequality in working life. Otherwise, the results of the following Working Life Barometers will be a sad reading,” Minister Haatainen concludes. 

What is the Working Life Barometer?

Conducted since 1992, the Working Life Barometer is a sample study that examines the development of the quality of working life from the viewpoint of Finnish employees. The data for 2019 are based on telephone interviews conducted by Statistics Finland in August and September in connection with the Labour Force Survey. 1,555 wage and salary earners responded to the barometer study in 2019 The data can reliably be generalised to apply to employees everywhere in Finland and in all sectors.

The results of the Working Life Barometer have traditionally been published in two parts: preliminary data in the spring, and the final report in the autumn.


Marianne Keyriläinen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 504 7009 or firstname.lastname(at)

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