Stability and Change of the Quality of Working Life in Restructuring Municipalities
Heiskanen, Tuula; Jokinen, Esa (2014)
Social Indicators Research 118 2
Yhteiskunta- ja kulttuuritieteiden yksikkö
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Local government in Finland has undergone considerable restructuring since 2005 as a number of new larger municipalities (mergers) and partnership areas between social and health sector service producers have been formed. Employees and the quality of their working life have not been among the main issues in this government-driven restructuring process. The article focuses on the observed changes in the quality of working life in Finnish municipalities. The data consist of two comprehensive surveys carried out in 2009 (N=3,710) and 2011 (N=4,618) for employees in the social and health sector and the education sector, and in 2011 also for employees in the administration sector, and of comparison data from the years 1995, 1999 and 2003. Quality of working life (QWL) consists of five sum variables: open ways to solve work conflicts, work influence, supervisory work, social openness at workplace, and intrinsic rewards of work. The measures proved to reflect in context-specific ways situations and conditions of work. The results imply that QWL is quite a slowly changing phenomenon, which is revealed here through a long-term research period and statistical comparisons. On the level of daily work, the widescale reform seemed more incremental than radical. As a positive sign, it is noteworthy that the intrinsic rewards of work have remained on a relatively high level through the years. There are some cases in which QWL has changed more radically. It is obvious that the reform context has increased awareness of human resource issues in these cases, which is visible in the improved QWL. It is also possible that the improvement in the supervisory role as reflected in increased satisfaction with supervisors and the relatively high level of social capital in most of the municipalities have played a buffering role against the confusion and strains related to the reform.
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