The Institute for Employment Research is at the forefront of research to understand, measure and promote job quality. Research led by Prof. Chris Warhurst is demonstrably influencing the development of government policy on job quality. The 2017 UK Government’s Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices explicitly drew on this research and its recommendation that the Government adopt a measure of job quality. In its 2018 response to the Taylor Review, the Government accepted this recommendation and in 2019 the Office for National Statistics piloted the measure for the UK’s first exploratory analysis of job quality.
Several research projects have supported the development of this measure. The first is the Quality of Jobs and Innovation Generated Employment Outcomes (QuInnE) funded over 2014-18 by EU Horizon 2020. This project investigated the relationship between job quality and innovation and that relationship’s impact on employment outcomes i.e. social inclusion and equality. The project involved research teams from seven EU countries, with IER leading the UK research. In addition to Warhurst, the research team included Drs Sally Wright, Sudipa Sarkar, Wil Hunt and Daria Luchinskaya and Prof. Anne Green. The project developed a framework to measure job quality in in the EU.
The second is 'Understanding and measuring job quality' funded by the Chartered Institute for Personnel & Development (CIPD) in 2017. In addition to Warhurst and Wright, the research team comprised Dr Sudipa Sarkar and Prof. Clare Lyonette. The research involved two systematic literature reviews: the first about multi-disciplinary understandings of job quality; the second a comparative analysis of approaches to measuring job quality. Drawing on QuInnE research, a bespoke framework for measuring job quality in the UK was developed. Through an ESRC-funded Impact Accelerator Account, Dr Sudipa Sarkar then helped convert these measures into a new CIPD UK Working Lives Survey. As the annual surveys accumulate, it will become a major source of data for practitioners and researchers on the state of job quality in the UK.
The third, a working group funded by the Carnegie UK Trust and co-hosted by the Royal Society for the Arts and Manufacturing (RSA), of which Matthew Taylor is CEO, developed the recommendation of the Taylor Review to derive a measure of job quality for the UK. The group consisted of senior employer, trade union and civic society representatives and government officials. Warhurst with Wright provided the group’s scientific advice. Drawing on IER’s QuInnE and CIPD research, the group recommended a measure of job quality to the UK Government and which was subsequently pilot by the ONS.
The adoption of the measure will have profound importance for millions of people’s working lives and the performance of organisations.