Is it worth employing in Finland?

Entrepreneurship has been and is facing demanding challenges. Especially in recent years, Europe has been shaken by several global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the attack of Russia on Ukraine, sudden price fluctuations in the energy and fear of energy sufficiency, difficulties in obtaining raw materials, materials and components, rapid inflation, a rising cost of money due to interest rate hikes by the European Central Bank and the euro area of recession. We live in a situation where companies are increasingly divided into winners and losers. What does this mean for the economic structures of Finland in the coming years?
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The traditional measure of success used in business research is the number of employees in the company. Other measures used are turnover and/or balance sheet growth. What is characteristic of these measures is that they are based on numerical data from statistics. We are talking about quantitative or quantitative research, which is based on describing and analysing the research subject using statistics and numbers. Statistics Finland maintains and publishes statistics based on the company's business in Finland.

Based on the development of the number of staff, companies can be roughly divided into three categories: companies where the number of staff increases, remains unchanged or decreases. The fourth measure used is to classify the company as a gazelle, where the company's staff growth has been strong for three consecutive years.

Based on statistics, we know that the number of employer companies in Finland has decreased in the past ten years. This is a very worrying trend. It means that companies employ less and less. As a researcher, I wonder about the possible reasons for the trend-like decline in the number of Finnish employer companies. The global crises mentioned at the beginning are certainly factors, but they do not alone explain the downward trend that has continued since 2013.

The ageing of entrepreneurs and the fact that there is no successor to the company can explain part of the downward trend. If the business transfer fails due to the lack of a buyer, it can lead to the exit of profitable companies from the market. This is especially harmful if the company operates and employs in a sparsely populated or rural area. This is of great importance, as Finland is largely sparsely populated. The global crises listed at the beginning and the resulting poor visibility of future new opportunities have increased the closure of companies and slowed down the growth of staff numbers.

Finland has long talked about the shortage of labour and skills. Recruitment difficulties of companies will certainly slow down the growth of staff numbers. On the other hand, there are indications that companies do not know how to exploit the experience of 50+ year old or do not pay attention to job seekers who do not speak Finnish as their mother tongue. One can wonder about this, as we know Finland is the fastest ageing country in Europe after Japan.

Could it be that corporate culture of Finland no longer produces enough new companies? What has happened and what follows if such a change is underway? On the other hand, we know that sole entrepreneurs do not easily hire their first employee. It is natural for them to increase the necessary capacity by operating in networks of companies.

These are big questions concerning the business field of Finland and entrepreneurship. Is it worth to employing in Finland is a question that needs to be answered?

Kai Hänninen, D.Sc. (Tech), Adjunct Professor, University Researcher, University of Oulu, Kerttu Saalasti Institute