Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health Online-first -article    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.4033 | Published online: 12 May 2022

Changes in occupational well-being during COVID-19: the impact of age, gender, education, living alone, and telework in a Finnish four-wave population sample

by Kaltiainen J, Hakanen J

Objectives This study investigated how occupational well-being evolved across different phases, before and during the COVID-19 outbreak in the Finnish population. Whereas studies have suggested that certain demographic groups (eg, young, female) are more at risk during COVID-19, less is known whether the effects of such demographic factors may vary (i) across different phases of the unfolding viral outbreak and (ii) on different dimensions of occupational well-being. As they are predictors of changes in burnout, job boredom, and work engagement, we examined age, gender, education, living alone, and teleworking. This is the first study to provide such detailed knowledge regarding the changes in various occupational well-being dimensions before and during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Methods We collected randomized population panel data at the end of 2019 and conducted three follow-up surveys with 6-month intervals (N=532). The data were analyzed with latent change score models.

Results Whereas during spring 2020, occupational well-being slightly improved, in autumn 2020 well-being decreased back to pre-COVID-19 levels. There was an indication of slight increases in job boredom between before COVID-19 and summer 2021. Well-being deteriorated more for the young and those who lived alone. There was also some indication of females, those with lower education, and non-teleworkers experiencing less favorable changes in occupational well-being. Teleworking appeared to have more beneficial effects on well-being for those with lower education.

Conclusions The study suggests that only relatively minor changes in well-being took place among the employed population. A particular focus in workplaces should be targeted at younger employees.

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