COVID-19 business survey in Finland: 84% of companies estimate that their workplace safety is at a fairly good level

Re-opening the society after the COVID-19 lockdown is much debated in Finland. According to our survey, Finnish employer companies are relatively well prepared for the security practices required to enable employees to return from remote work back to the office and other physical work environment. However, there is a lot of uncertainty associated with the exit phase in general. A quarter of companies estimate that testing and tracing of the epidemic is not well enough under control in Finland.

The economic distress has not eased in Finland, but companies sense at least some light at the end of the tunnel, says Jyri Häkämies, Director General of the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK:

“The Finnish government’s first decisions to lift lock down restrictions have been an important signal. Companies dare to estimate that the peak of temporary layoffs may have passed, at least for now. The risk of bankruptcies is also expected to be reduced.”

Main results:

  • The situation of employer companies is still very severe. One third estimates that sales will be at least half lower than normal in May.
  • The layoff situation has remained unchanged. 45% of companies had made temporary lay-offs (44% in previous EK survey in April). 9% are preparing them in the coming weeks (15% estimate this in April).
  • 7% of companies have so far made redundancies (5% in April).
  • The future outlook has picked up slightly: 11% fear going bankrupt (16% in April).
  • Companies were asked to estimate how safe it is for employees to return back to the office or other physical work environment after the remote work phase:
    • Physical working conditions (own premises, disinfection, distances, customer contacts) are mostly considered safe. 31% rate them as very safe and 53% as reasonably safe. 9% felt that additional safety measures were still needed.
    • The biggest concern is how well the Finnish society can manage the epidemic (identify and trace those infected). 23% of the companies estimate that the situation in Finland is not yet under control due to e.g. insufficient testing.
    • 14% of all companies are concerned about the adequacy of masks and other protective equipment (only half of companies, however, need protective equipment in their daily operations).
    • One-fifth considers public transport to be a significant risk to staff safety.
    • The proportion of unaware respondents is quite high, indicating the need for companies to receive more guidance on safe practices.
  • Criticism of the Finnish government has increased: dissatisfaction was caused by the allocation of financial state support and the lack of a clear exit plan.

EK’s fourth COVID-19 business survey was answered by 1,639 Finnish entrepreneurs and business leaders, all of whom are employers. The response time to the survey was 11-12 May, 2020.

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