Hannu Pursio: Work ability and recovery from workload – job requirements and resources in changing forestry work
Changes in society and working life affect the definition of work ability as a social and organizational construct. Work ability takes on meaning in the social, economic, technological and cultural context in which the work is done. The norms and conditions of doing work change as the norms and values of society change.
The dissertation consists of three papers. In the first paper, both the relationship between job requirements and the resources for psychological recovery from the workload and the relationship between recovery, work ability and sick leave are examined. The second paper examines the relationship between job requirements and work capacity, and the third paper examines the relationship between work resources and work capacity. All three papers are cross-sectional studies.
The research material was collected in 2018 by a nationwide electronic survey that forest machine entrepreneurs and forest machine operators responded to anonymously. The questionnaire was sent to 960 entrepreneurs, whose contact information was obtained from the member register of the Trade Association of Finnish Forestry and Earth Moving Contractors (TAFFEC), and 890 drivers whose contact information was obtained from the member register of the Finnish Industrial union.
The questionnaire was sent to all the entrepreneurs and drivers in the member registers. The study involves 322 timber harvesting professionals, of whom 87 are forest machine entrepreneurs (entrepreneurs) and 235 are forest machine operators (drivers). The response rate for entrepreneurs was 9,1 % and for drivers it was 26.4 %. The overall response rate was 17 %. All the respondents were included in the research sample. In the same proportion, the sample represents the regional quantitative priorities for industrial wood felling in 2018 and provides an overall picture of the characteristics of the timber harvesting industry.
The technological development of timber harvesting, the globalization of the industry and changes in the competitive environment that have led to the restructuring of the forest industry have changed the content, knowledge and skills requirements of timber harvesting work, as well as the forms of work organization. Timber harvesting work as part of the forest industry value chain has been reorganized to respond to changes in the competitive environment. The new, broad-based operating model of timber harvesting companies has transformed harvesting into a service business.
The study examined the relationship between job requirements and resources for work ability and recovery from the workload. The job requirement variables were time pressure at work, work organization, the suitability of working time arrangements, the mental strain of work, and information systems management. Work resource variables included job security and continuity, job relevance, social support, empowerment, personal resources for work, and experience of equity at work.
The Mann-Whitney U-test and logistic regression analysis as well as exploratory factor analyses were used as methods. Statistical analyzes were performed using the Mann- Whitney U test to examine the statistical significance of the differences in work ability scores between forest entrepreneurs and forest operators.
Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the relationship between job requirements and resource variables and work ability variables. In addition, logistic regression analysis was also used to assess both the relationship between recovery and work ability variables and the relationship between job requirements and resources and the recovery experience. With the help of exploratory factor analysis, latent sum variables were formed from the job requirement factors, which complemented the analysis of the job requirements and the work ability variables. The sum variables were job insecurity and workload, and the third sum variable was information systems skills.
The study showed that more than a third of the participants had experienced a change in work tasks and workload (both mental and physical), as well as an increase in workload and uncertainty, in the last three years before the study. Increased work efficiency requirements and responsibilities have increased future uncertainty.
About half of the participants estimated that their recovery from their daily workload was insufficient. In particular, the management of job requirements (well-organized work, low time pressures, good management of information systems, reduced mental workload and appropriate working time arrangements) and good work resources (job security, the relevance of daily work, strong social support at work, good impact on work, good personal resources and strong experience of equity at work) supported adequate recovery from the workload.
Well-organized work is a key resource that supports sufficient recovery from workload for both entrepreneurs and forest machine operators, and it is linked to good work ability.
The doctoral dissertation of Master of Health Sciences Hannu Pursio in the field of occupational health titled Työkyky ja työkuormituksesta palautuminen – Työn vaatimukset ja voimavarat muuttuneessa metsänhakkuutyössä will be publicly examined at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Tampere University at 12 o'clock on Friday 3 December, 2021. The venue is Arvo building auditorium F115, address: Arvo Ylpön katu 34. Professor emerita Marja-Liisa Manka will be the opponent while Professor emeritus Clas-Håkan Nygård will act as the custos.
The event can befollowed via remote connection
The dissertation is available online at