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Making good work the norm

Two supermarket workers putting products on shelves

A good working environment is important for staff to perform well and feel committed to their job.

Ahead of the UK general election, HR body the CIPD and trade union Prospect say that any new strategy to boost economic growth should be underpinned by a focus on improving job quality, working cultures and people management practices.

Strengthening relationships

The concept of 'good work' is not just about ensuring that jobs are safe and fairly paid. It is about organising work in a way that actually promotes employees' wellbeing and can lead to more successful businesses.

Too often the quality of both work relationships and workplaces is missing in discussions on expanding opportunities and growing the economy, according to a discussion paper from Prospect and the CIPD.

The joint report identifies the central challenges as improving labour market participation, innovation adoption and productivity across the economy. And it suggests the need for a new public policy emphasis on improving the quality of workplaces and jobs and strengthening relationships at all levels across workforces and organisations.

"The nature of the work and the support people get in their jobs is central to driving growth and productivity," said Peter Cheese, CIPD chief executive. "But more needs to be done to focus on policy that encourages all employers to invest in their people, to improve job quality, sustain positive working cultures and improve people management. These are critical to engaging people and improving labour market participation, as well as enhancing the wellbeing of the wider workforce."

Key recommendations

In their report, the CIPD and Prospect make a series of recommendations including:

  • Establishing a Workplace Commission to bring together labour market institutions, including employer bodies and trade unions, to support policy making across government and consensus on key workplace issues such as new regulation.
  • Developing a more progressive labour market enforcement system to support and improve employer compliance and help drive up overall employment standards.
  • Strengthening sector-based social partnership and collective employer representation to improve how skills are developed and used in workplaces at an industry sector level.
  • Improving business support services within the UK's nations and regions to boost the people management and development capability of small and medium-size enterprises at a local level.

The paper estimates the cost of these proposals to be in the region of £350m a year. Rather than requiring additional government spending, it suggests the changes could be funded through relatively minor changes to existing spending programmes on R&D tax relief which amount to nearly £9bn a year.

Everyone benefits

"The General Election and subsequent new government, whoever wins, provide an opportunity for us to reset the terms of discussion around economic prosperity," said Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect. "All parties say they want to grow the economy, what we have here is a costed blueprint which could be implemented almost immediately.

"For too long the fight for good work and working conditions has been seen as separate, and indeed counter to, the drive for economic growth.

"We have shown that when employers and workers come together and collaborate on the terms of their endeavour, it benefits everyone."

Posted by Fidelius on June 24th 2024

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