Major changes in the job description and required competence of employees in the service sectors

According to a recent survey, the change in the service sectors requires the constant development of competence. The extensive dataset published today in the Work-Life Knowledge service provides an overview of private service sectors in the early 2020s. The data are available in Finnish, Swedish and English.

Finnish Institute of Occupational Health media release 27 April 2023

Work in the service sectors has changed significantly during the exceptional years of the early 2020s. The most considerable factors driving the changes are the changes in prices, demand and supply of services accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war of aggression along with earlier deregulation of opening hours. These pose challenges to well-being at work, competence and productivity as well as the promotion of changes through the means of work ability management. 

“Various service industry sectors have faced labour shortages. Securing workforce in the private service sector requires ensuring the well-being and competence of current employees as well as the recruitment and induction of new employees,” says Senior Specialist Jarno Turunen from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

It is estimated that private service sectors employ over 400,000 people in Finland. The data collected in 2022 provides an overview of well-being at work, competence, activities of work communities, leadership and perceived changes from the perspective of private service sector employees. The survey was taken by 3,662 members of the Service Union United PAM in the service industry.

Job descriptions and competence requirements have become more diverse, but the lack of respect is disappointing to many 

The diversification of work tasks concern almost three quarters of the respondents at least to some extent. In the commerce sector, more than one in ten feel that their job description has diversified significantly. Despite of the diversity of work tasks and depending on the industry, only half of the employees feel that their competence is valued at the workplace.

“The diversification of job descriptions has a positive effect on competence as well,” says Senior Researcher Sara Lindström from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

The competence and professionalism of those who carry out more diverse work tasks are valued more at the workplace than the competence and professionalism of those with less diverse tasks. They also feel that they master the skills required for the job better than those whose tasks have not diversified.

Digital skills are mastered, recovery skills need to be emphasized

Employees feel confident about their own digital skills. Up to 75% of the respondents feel relatively confident about their skills related to the use of digital tools. However, there is room for improvement in skills related to recovery: only about half of the respondents feel that they have adequate recovery skills.

The most common ways of learning at the workplace applied by employees are working together (40–53%), using the internet to solve problems (39–50%), participating in local training sessions (30–43%) and applying the instructions of the workplace (26–41%).

“The methods of developing competence are already used rather extensively at workplaces, but their use should be increased and the development of competence should be secured. In a labour market plagued by labour shortages, it is important to maintain, support and develop the work ability of the current workforce. Signals of reduced work ability need to be addressed at an early stage,” says Sara Lindström.

Research project: Well-being at work and competence in the service sectors

  • The study was carried out by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health as part of the Well-being at work and competence in the service sectors project.
  • The project was funded by the Finnish Work Environment Fund, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Service Union United PAM, Finnish Hospitality Association MaRa, Real Estate Employers and four companies involved in the study.  
  • The data published in the Work-Life Knowledge service was collected in May 2022.
  • A total of 3,662 members of the Service Union United PAM who work in commerce, tourism and catering, real estate services, security or other private service sectors responded to the survey. 

Browse the data

  • Data 
  • Analysis
  • The data and analysis are available in Finnish, Swedish and English.

Further information

  • Sara Lindström, Senior Researcher, Sara.Lindstrom@ttl.fi, +358 (0)30 474 2404




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Well-being through work

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) researches, develops and specializes in well-being at work. It promotes occupational health and safety and the well-being of workers. It is an independent institution under public law, working under the administrative sector of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. It has five regional offices, and its headquarters are in Helsinki. The number of personnel is about 500.

For the media | Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (ttl.fi)


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