What is Good Work?

Good Work - job design

Of course job creation and avoiding redundancies is important. But simply looking at the number of people in employment is not the whole story. In addition Good Work focuses on the quality of jobs.

You may have first heard of Good Work back in 2017. This is when the Taylor Review of modern working practices was published. This report was commissioned to review the UK job market. This has since resulted in the Government’s Good Work Plan and a number of legislative changes.  

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) argue that there are five key elements to good work:

1. It is fairly rewarded and secure

2. It is fulfilling, offers development and enables a good work-life balance

3. It happens in a supportive workplace with good relationships with colleagues

4. It allows employees to contribute their choices and voice in their workplace.

5. It is healthy

Why is Good Work important?

We spend an awful lot of our time at work, so for individuals it is important that jobs are good.

A good quality of work is important for businesses. As a result you may see low turnover and absenteeism, a healthy, motivated workforce and high productivity.  

Good work is also important for society as a whole. For example, The Government’s Good Work Plan aspires to reward people for hard work, celebrate good employers and boost productivity in the UK.  

Is work in the UK good?

The CIPD’s Good Work Index gives insights into the quality of work in the UK. They measure job quality by surveying more than 5,000 workers across different sectors and occupations. Each year, they ask them about key aspects of their working lives.

The most recent survey was published in June 2020. The data was collected just before the Covid-19 crisis hit, so it will be interesting to see next years’ results and the effect of the crisis on work. The summary headlines include:

  • 1 in 3 workers are dissatisfied with pay
  • As many as a third of employees find their workload too much
  • 2 in 5 workers report little or no autonomy in their roles
  • There is a mismatch in skills to roles – 11% report not having the skills needed for their role and 37% report having skills that are not used.
  • 73% report that their output is useful for the business that employs them
  • Around three-quarters of employees report good relationships with bosses and colleagues
  • 1 in 4 employees report that work has impacted their health

The risks highlighted by the CIPD in this survey are a decline in job autonomy and in employee voice at work. There is a risk here that employees will become dissatisfied, demotivated and even leave the business for a better job.

They also highlight a decline in work-related health and wellbeing. There is a risk here for employers of an unhealthy workforce.

What can I do to improve job quality?

Considering the data above, there are a number of actions you can take to improve job quality in your business:

  • Review your pay. Do your employees understand their pay? Do they think that it is fair? More transparency could improve employee satisfaction with pay.
  • Do your employees get along with each other? Perhaps consider some social events outside of the business environment to encourage bonding.
  • Are employees able to share their ideas, suggestions and concerns? Consider introducing a way for employees giving you feedback to encourage autonomy and employee voice.
  • Review roles and skills. Are your job descriptions up-to-date? Do your employees have skills that you are not using? Do any employees need development? A strong alignment between roles and the skills of your employees will result in greater productivity and job satisfaction. A clear link between individual job roles and the business strategy enables employees to see where their activities fit in and gives them purpose.

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