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UK job quality 'continues to fall short', says CIPD

Group of happy young employees discussing a project

Good pay and benefits are essential in attracting, motivating and retaining employees. But what about job quality?

If an individual feels as though their work is unsatisfying or detrimental to their physical or mental health, or if they have a poor relationship with their manager or lack job security, they are unlikely to be 100% happy and motivated in their role.

The flip-side to that, however, is that paying attention to these issues and improving job quality is likely to increase productivity and retention.

Job quality in the UK has been surprisingly unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic so far, but continues to fall short on a number of key measures, according to new research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Of the 6,257 workers who were surveyed in February 2021 for the CIPD's Good Work Index and gave an opinion:

  • One in four said work is bad for their physical or mental wellbeing (23% and 25% respectively). In 2020, 26% and 27% of workers said this.
  • Only half (52%) said work offers good opportunities for development, comparable with the 48% that said the same in 2020.
  • 30% report unmanageable workloads, similar to the 32% that said this in 2020.
  • One in four (24%) report poor work-life balance, finding it difficult to relax in their personal time because of work -- the same figure as in 2020.

This year's report showed that there are marked differences in job quality between occupations, with occupational status remaining a key factor in access to good work. For example, only a third of those in routine occupations who gave an answer said managers are good at seeking the views of employees or employee representatives (33%), compared with over half of those in higher managerial and professional occupations (55%).

Similarly, those in routine occupations were much less likely to report having access to skills development (27%), whereas 63% of those in higher managerial and professional roles said they do.

Another common thread identified in the Good Work Index is that most jobs come with trade-offs in different aspects of job quality. This can be seen clearly among home workers who have enjoyed greater autonomy than those going into work, but often report higher workloads. However, the report argues that such trade-offs need not be inevitable and employers should challenge such assumptions.

Other ways that employers can improve work include:

  • Keep wellbeing high on the agenda, even when the pandemic subsides.
  • Prioritise better skills development -- especially for those in routine and semi-routine roles and those who've been furloughed.
  • Monitor workloads and put enough resources in place to avoid overwork -- especially for remote workers and key workers.
  • Review flexible working options to address the work-life balance challenges your workforce faces. Look beyond remote working and give people a choice in flexible working arrangements.

"A strong economic recovery post-pandemic is not just about more jobs, but better jobs too," said Mel Green, research adviser at the CIPD. "It may not be realistic to make all jobs great in all ways, but there are several dimensions to job quality and by being more creative with job design and HR practices, employers can and should make work better for everyone."

Posted by Fidelius on June 14th 2021

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