Encountering Change: Job Satisfaction of Sign Language Interpreters in Finland

Liisa Martikainen
Humak, University of Applied Science

Petri Karkkola
University of Eastern Finland

Matti Kuittinen
University of Eastern Finland

All views or conclusions are those of the authors of the articles and not necessarily those of the editorial staff or the publisher.

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Abstract

The organizational system for providing Finnish sign language interpreter services has recently changed, and this change has influenced the whole interpretation service industry. It poses major challenges for the maintenance of job satisfaction among sign language professionals. The level of job satisfaction of sign language interpreters (in this study, N = 135) was surveyed by means of an online questionnaire. While examining this phenomenon, this study mainly addresses the systemic factors in employment conditions. According to the results, the level of job satisfaction among interpreters is quite high; however, it remains clearly lower than the average for Finnish workers. The key factors in job satisfaction are working conditions, changes in the amount of work and the way that it has been organized. Many of these problems are seen to be the result of the recently reformed Kela2-led interpreter booking system and the interpreting service’s bidding system. As a conclusion, we note that, in future, more attention should be paid to the working conditions and job satisfaction of Finnish sign language interpreters. If the level of job satisfaction continues to decrease, not only will interpreters’ health and well-being be at risk, but the quality of service provided to clients may also be impacted.

Keywords: Sign language interpreters, organizational change, job satisfaction, working conditions, job insecurity