Soft methods to extend working lives

Improving management practices and work engagement, as well as offering personnel training, significantly affect the stability and length of working lives. These soft methods are just as effective as preventing various threats and obstacles, as concluded in a new collection of studies titled Working conditions and working lives.

Much can be done at workplaces to extend working lives.

“Most elderly have a good ability to work. They can be motivated to continue working until their retirement age by improving work engagement,” explains researcher Riku Perhoniemi. With supportive superiors, an encouraging atmosphere and opportunities to learn at work, employees’ work engagement, that is, their drive and enthusiasm for their work, will improve.

If employees have a good work ability, their willingness to continue working will be improved more efficient by work engagement than by reducing stress. If the ability to work has already been reduced, work engagement does not appear to extend working lives. In that case, employers must focus on controlling the work load by, for example, redimensioning the work requirements and developing stress coping strategies.

Developing working conditions is an investment, both from the business and employee perspective. It increases job satisfaction which, in turn, improves productivity and profitability.

“Modern interactive management practices increase job satisfaction. Employees who are happy with their work are less likely to consider retirement. In fact, they retire later,” says Professor Petri Böckerman.

Training temporary workers pays off

The working lives of temporary workers can be stabilized considerably by offering them personnel training paid for by the employer. According to the results of Professor Jouko Nätti’s research team, the working lives of temporary employees who participate in personnel training are equally stable as those of permanent employees.

Training offered by the employer is of particular benefit to those temporary employees who have little training from before. In practice, however, the majority of temporary workers do not participate in personnel training. They also have shorter working lives.

Such comprehensive research data on the impact of working conditions on the length of working lives has not been available before. Working conditions and working lives was initiated by the Finnish Centre for Pensions and is a compilation of Finnish research on the significance of working conditions on the various stages of working life.


Working conditions and working lives – Research on the stability of working lives and retirement (Summary in English)

Finnish Centre for Pensions, Studies 8/2016


More information:

Noora Järnefelt (editor), Senior Researcher, Finnish Centre for Pensions, phone: +358 29 411 2152, e-mail: noora.jarnefelt (at)

Jouko Nätti, Professor, University of Tampere (temporary work and personnel training), phone: +358 40 74 66 519

Riku Perhoniemi, researcher and working life developer, (work engagement and mental stress), phone: +358 40 51 66 797

Petri Böckerman, Professor, Turku School of Economics, The Labour Institute for Economic Research, (link between working conditions and management to retirement intentions), phone: +358 400 913189