Research activities

The change in working life also affects work ability. At Varma we want to understand how work is changing and the challenges it places on work ability so that we can produce timely and reliable research-based information on work ability for our clients. On this page you will find information about current projects and the latest research findings.

Our key objectives

Our objectives are

  • to identify and describe work ability risk factors in changing working life, and
  • to produce information on how the management of disability risks can be influenced.

We carry out research and studies as part of our own activities and in collaboration with research institutes and universities. In our studies we draw on register information from Varma’s application data and pension decisions, as well as information collected on research subjects, for instance from surveys and interviews. We also participate in developing Varma’s work ability services.

Managing ethical strain is a matter that concerns the entire work community!​

Ethical strain refers to a conflict between work values and opportunities. It may occur in any type of work. If prolonged, ethical strain may reduce a person’s work ability. The workplace has the solution, however! A joint discussion is a good place to start managing stressful situations.

Our publication series ‘Information about work ability’

In our ‘Information about work ability’ publication series we address manifestations of work ability and disability, workload and resource factors in different industries and professions, as well as effective ways of managing disability risks. The ‘Solutions for work’ fact sheets offer workplaces concrete solutions for promoting work ability and managing the workload. The fact sheets are also available in Finnish and Swedish. ​

There are many ways to strengthen and support the mental health of employees in the workplace

‘Mental health’ fact sheet

Construction sector – there are means for managing

‘Construction sector and work ability’ fact sheet

Small enterprises – manage work ability in everyday work

‘Small enterprises and work ability’ fact sheet

Social and health-care sector – concerns about the work ability of employees in the social and health-care sector, working conditions must be systematically developed

‘Social and health-care sector and work ability’ fact sheet

Industry and work ability – there are many ways of managing the workload in industrial workplaces

‘Industry and work ability’ fact sheet

The transport industry and work ability – an essential aspect of promoting work ability is to identify workload factors and resources

‘Transport industry and work ability’ fact sheet

The service sector and work ability – researched information and methods for managing work stress in the retail sector and hotel and food service sector

‘Service sector and work ability’ fact sheet

Knowledge work and work ability – ground rules for managing the cognitive workload must be created in knowledge work

‘Knowledge work and work ability’ fact sheet

Data-driven work ability management – situation overview and development needs from the perspective of companies

‘Data-driven work ability management’ fact sheet

Work ability and the transformation of work – perspectives and tools to support work ability management

‘Work ability and the transformation of work’ fact sheet

Our current research

Employment and rehabilitation of mental health rehabilitants through individual training at work

In collaboration with the career coaching company Spring House, Varma is piloting an Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model as a means of rehabilitating and finding employment for mental health rehabilitants. The effectiveness of the IPS model is backed by solid research findings. Based on the pilot, Varma is implementing a comparative study to determine the IPS model’s effects on the work engagement of mental health rehabilitants, as well as the work ability and functional capacity of the rehabilitants. In addition, the study will create a model of and evaluate which mechanisms make the model effective.

More information on the Individual Placement and Support model on the project’s website

Individual Placement and Support (IPS) study

In collaboration with Spring House, Varma is piloting an Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model with mental health rehabilitants. We compare the impacts of the IPS model and those of the traditional vocational rehabilitation model on the work engagement of mental health rehabilitants and on their work ability and functional capacity.

Reasons for and the many paths of disability

In our longitudinal study, we look into the reasons for and paths to disability. The study draws on register information from the disability pension applications that Varma receives and from pension decisions. The study provides new information that supports disability risk management and contributes to identifying groups at risk of disability.

Young researchers tracking work ability​

In the study, we look into the state of young people’s work ability and disability and the related factors. The study draws on Varma’s register data and data collected from the study subjects (surveys, interviews).  The study increases understanding of young people’s disability and key ways to support work ability. 

Research collaboration

We engage in research collaboration with research institutes and universities in projects related to various disability aspects, such as identifying and managing disability risks in changing working life. ​

Examples of research collaboration 

Examples of recent research collaboration incude the following studies conducted by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health: ”Kimmoisat työntekijät muuttuvassa työelämässä", ”Onnistuneesti työuralle” and ”Työn uudet muodot ja työkyvystä huolehtiminen”.

Our research team

Auli Airila

Research Manager

Minna Savinainen

Research Manager

Help with using our services

Take care of your work ability matters online

In our online service, you can, for instance

  • survey your organisation’s disability risks
  • examine data and analyses related to work ability
  • devise a work ability management plan of action

Log in to Varma Online Service