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Job Quality

Selected recent projects

Monitoring convergence in the dimension of working conditions/job quality hyperlink

In collaboration with a team led by Professor Rafael Muñoz de Bustillo at the University of Salamanca, Professor Chris Warhurst, Sally Wright and Dr Sudipa Sarkar are currently undertaking research commissioned by the European Foundation for Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) to analyse long-term trends in working conditions in EU Member States; to understand and contextualise the dynamics behind these trends; and to review appropriate EU-level policy instruments to help develop an approach to addressing disparities and promote upward convergence in working conditions.

Delivering upward convergence in job quality is a policy priority for the European Commission. Pursuing the idea of more and better jobs is central to the European Pillar of Social Rights, which sets out a set of 20 key principles and rights to support fair and well-functioning labour markets and welfare systems and it is designed as a compass for a renewed process of upward convergence towards better working and living conditions in Europe (European Commission 2017).

The evidence base is intended to provide a base to enable a more targeted policy approach to improving job quality in the EU. Given that over the past decade EU countries’ trajectories have diverged (Eurofound 2017a), emphasis is placed on what will help avoid continuing divergence in the future.

Quality of jobs and innovation generated employment outcomes (QuInnE)

From 2014 to 2018, Professor Warhurst led the UK team for the Quality of Jobs and Innovation Generated Employment Outcomes (QuInnE) project, a pan-European research project investigating the linkages between job quality, innovation and the creation of more and better jobs. A key aim of the European Commission’s Europe 2020 strategy is to stimulate growth of high innovation, high job quality firms that create more and better jobs, which in turn tackle social inclusion and inequality. The QuInnE project was funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 Work Programme and brought together a multi-discliplinary team of experts from across seven European countries: Sweden, Germany, France, Spain, Hungary, the Netherlands and the UK. A mixed methods research design was used to examine the mutually-reinforcing relationship between innovation and job quality and its impact on employment outcomes. The research project involved three main strands: EU and country-level policy analysis; quantitative analysis undertaken at the EU-level by country and industry and firm-level; and comparative case study research to examine firm-level behaviour in order to explain and understand the causal mechanisms behind the innovation-job quality-employment nexus.QuInnE generated new scientific understanding of the innovation-job quality-employment dynamic (see www.quinne.eu) and new diagnostic and development tools for practitioners and policy makers see (http://tools.quinne.eu/quinnemap/).

Measuring job quality research for CIPD

Over 2017, Professors Chris Warhurst and Clare Lyonette, and Sally Wright and Dr Sudipa Sarkar were commissioned by CIPD to undertake research on job quality. The research involved a thematic review of the literature about understandings of job quality (report 1) and a review of indicators and available datasets (report 2). The findings from the CIPD research were subsequently cited in the 2017 report Good Work: The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices and the 2018 Carnegie/RSA report on Measuring Good Work. The findings were also used to redevelop the CIPD’s annual survey, relaunched in 2018 at the Working Lives Survey (see below).

CIPD Working Lives Survey 2017

Following the research IER undertook for CIPD on understanding and measuring job quality, in 2017, Dr Sudipa Sarkar, Prof. Chris Warhurst and Sally Wright from IER worked with CIPD to develop its Working Lives Survey. CIPD surveyed approximately 6000 workers across different sectors using seven dimensions which they viewed as critical for employees, employers and policy makers to raising job quality and improving working lives. The survey builds on previous CIPD surveys of employees to assess the current state of job quality in the UK. CIPD’s report sets out findings for the seven dimensions identified by CIPD are: pay and benefits; terms of employment; job design and the nature of work; social support and cohesion; health and well-being; work-life balance; and employee voice.

Decent Work for the low paid in Scotland

Over 2015-2016, Sally Wright collaborated with Oxfam Scotland and the University of Western Scotland on research which asked people with experience of low-paid, low-skilled jobs about factors important for decent work. There was a considerable degree of consensus as to what matters for decent work, where the top five rated aspects of decent work in order of importance from the focus groups were: sufficient pay to cover basic needs; job security; paid holidays and sick leave; a safe working environment; and a supportive line manager. The report from the Decent Work project was launched in the Scottish Parliament in 2016.

Creating more better jobs in Scotland

Over 2015-2016, IER was analysed the current state of job quality in Scotland and to identify long-term trends. The research team was led by Professor Chris Warhurst and included Sally Wright and Luke Bosworth.The funder was Skills Development Scotland. Using an adapted ‘jobs-based’ approach and skill level and hours status as indicators, the project examined structural change in employment in Scotland to identify job quality trends over 2001-2022. This periodization enables the longer term trend to be analysed inclusive of the economic and employment boom and bust that characterised the 2000s and 2010s. The project ended in 2016 with the production of an internal report for Skills Development Scotland: Is Scotland creating more better jobs?

Employment restructuring and job quality in Australia for Eurofound

In 2014-15, Chris Warhurst and Sally Wright undertook the Australian component of Eurofound’s Global Jobs project, analysing the long-term and global shifts in the employment structure. The research followed the ‘jobs based approach’ to explore upgrading and polarisation theses in six EU and six non-EU countries. The resulting report traced the upgrading, downgrading and polarisation of job quality across EU and selected non-EU countries and was published by Eurofound.

Selected recent publications

CIPD (2017) Understanding and measuring job quality. Available from: https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/understanding-and-measuring-job-quality-1_tcm18-33193.pdf (Authors: Warhurst, C., Wright, S. & Lyonette, C.).

Knox, A. and Warhurst, C. (eds) (2015). Job quality in Australia: Perspectives, Problems and Proposals. Annandale, NSW: Federation Press.

Stuart, F., Pautz, H., Crimin, S. and Wright, S. (2016) What makes for decent work? A study with low paid workers in Scotland. Initial findings. http://uwsoxfampartnership.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Decent-Work-Report-Final.pdf

Warhurst, C. (2017). Developing effective policy to improve job quality, Poverty, Issue 156, 14-17.

Warhurst, C. and Knox, A. (2015) Pushing forward the research and policy agenda on job quality. In: A. Knox and C. Warhurst (eds) Job quality in Australia: Perspectives, Problems and Proposals, Annandale, NSW: Federation Press, 2015.

Warhurst, C. and Knox, A. (2015). Why the renewed interest in job quality?. In:A. Knox and C. Warhurst (eds) Job quality in Australia: Perspectives, Problems and Proposals, Annandale, NSW: Federation Press.

Warhurst, C. and Wright, S. (2014). If it's innovation you want, think about job quality. In: BBVA (eds) Reinventing the Company in the Digital Age, Madrid: BBVA, pp. 157-174.

Warhurst, C., Mathieu, C. and Wright, S (2017). Workplace Innovation and the Quality of Working Life in the Age of Uberisation. In: Oeij, P., Rus, D. and Pot, F. (Eds). Workplace Innovation: Theory, Research and Practice (Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and Well-Being series). London: Springer Publishing.

Warhurst, C., Mathieu, C. and Wright, S. (2017) ‘Job quality as a lever for organizational innovation’ in M. Strumińska-Kutra and B. Rok (eds) Innowacje w miejscu pracy. Między efektywnością a jakością życia zawodowego (Workplace Innovation. Between efficiency and the quality of working life, Warsaw: Poltext.

For more publications related to the QuInnE project read here.