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Do your people have ‘good’ jobs?

Quality of work. It’s a big factor in employee satisfaction and engagement and in turn, an influence on your business’s performance.

For the second year running, the CIPD UK Working Lives Survey offers a snapshot of job quality in the UK. With responses from over 5,000 employees, covering areas from job design to reward and remuneration to health and wellbeing, this year’s report highlights the falling work-life balance for

“Our survey shows…”

The headlines are less than positive, illustrating workplace cultures of long hours, presenteeism and stress:

  • 60 per cent work longer hours than they want to.
  • 24 per cent work 10+ hours a week on top of their contracted hours.
  • 24 per cent said it was difficult to relax outside the office due to thinking about work.
  • 26 per cent said their job affected their personal commitments.
  • 22 per cent said they often or always felt exhausted at work.
  • 22 per cent felt they were under excessive pressure.

The ‘good news’ is that over half of respondents had some kind of flexible working arrangement, such as flexi-time with control over start and finish times. The majority of these ‘flexible workers’ felt a positive impact from such arrangements. That said, over two-thirds were interested in a flexible working arrangement not currently on offer from their employer.

So what’s the solution?

The CIPD report offers an eight-fold definition of “good work”, seeking to summarise what employees are either looking for or will respond positively to. According to the CIPD, good work…

  • …is fairly rewarded.
  • …gives people the means to securely make a living.
  • …gives opportunities to develop skills and a career and ideally gives a sense of fulfilment.
  • …provides a supportive environment with constructive relationships.
  • …allows for work–life balance.
  • …is physically and mentally healthy.
  • …gives employees the voice and choice they need to shape their working lives.
  • …should be accessible to all.

Nothing overly controversial there. Maybe a little utopian given the current state of affairs outlined in the report but there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to a better future (in fact, sometimes it’s essential). With a view to providing “good work” to all, the report’s headline recommendations are:

  1. Clear career progression paths.
  2. Increased access to flexible working.
  3. Better line management and HR capability.
  4. Review your organisational culture and the design of individual jobs to better manage workload and stress.
  5. Champion mental health and overall wellbeing.

The CIPD’s report is a mixed bag. Yes, the stats above carry a warning about stressed and unhappy employees, and the percentages are large enough that no business can just assume they don’t have a problem. However, the high rate of flexible working arrangements (and just maybe another survey – from job site Indeed – in which 74 per cent said they could do their job in four days instead of five, and to the same standard) suggest that the UK workplace is heading in the right direction. Just don’t stop now.

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