How to survive work

"The nature of work has changed. More and more, people feel that the pressure of time harms one's work and that insecurity is growing."

These words are from an editorial in the national daily, Helsingin Sanomat (8 March 2001). The paper comments on the government's four-year project to enhance welfare in workplaces. The project is now one year old and the first report was handed this week to the Prime Minister.

Helsingin Sanomat writes that being able to cope with one's work is an important national question.

"During the next twenty years or so, the number of working-age Finns will be reduced by 160,000 persons and the number of people over 65 will grow by half a million. The age for state pension is 65, but only every tenth employee retires at that age. If nothing is done, the equation is impossible; an ever smaller number of working-age citizens carries the burden of an ever growing number of pensioners.

"But being able to cope with work is an important question for other reasons as well. Enjoying work and coping with it are also central questions for employers; they are a factor of productivity. Also for individuals and families being able to cope with work is an important matter."

Helsingin Sanomat observes that work stress is worst in the public sector, and especially among council workers.

"This is the result of budget cuts which have been going on for years. The need for the services of the public sector have not diminished, but they have to be produced with ever shrinking resources, at least if one looks at their share in the growth of the gross national product."

The paper considers it understandable that much of the money available for the project has been channeled to the public sector. This should not lead, however, to the neglect of the private sector, the editorial says.

"Coping with work is essentially connected with general economic development: the state of the public economy, the profitability of private enterprises. Consequently, it would be good if the project looked into more general questions. For instance, it would be interesting to monitor what effects the shortening of working hours has had in France. Similarly, it would be interesting to follow the debate about job safety legislation in the United States. From the shop-floor, there is a direct link to legislation and the hard laws of macro-economy."

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