Promoting Better Jobs
Giving governments the tools to improve our working lives
Through our research, the IER team led by Professor Chris Warhurst have been instrumental in changing understanding of how we define and measure job quality. Their research has shaped and informed the metrics and responses from both government and practitioners and developed understanding of what makes a good quality job in the UK.
There are a record 33 million people employed in the UK today, but with many denied access to decent working conditions through the gig economy, there are concerns about declining job quality. This problem could affect up to 25% of UK workers - 8.25 million people. Poor job quality harms workers’ wellbeing as well as overall productivity. In order to monitor this trend and change policy, our team introduced a new metric to measure all aspects of poor quality work.
The research team, working with the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD), identified seven dimensions that defined job quality:
Pay and benefits (wages, pensions and other earnings)
Employment contracts (including job security)
Job design and the nature of work (skills, workload, flexibility and meaning)
Work/life balance (including commuting and flexible working)
Relationships at work (support from managers and inclusivity)
Voice and representation (such as union representation)
Health and well-being (both physical and mental)
The Quality of Jobs and Innovation Generated Employment Outcomes (QuinnE) study gathered information, combining data from the national, industry, company and worker levels with case studies from a range of industries across Europe.
The IER’s research has inspired new policy across different levels of government. The Scottish Parliament’s report following the ‘Work, Wages and Well-being’ inquiry in 2015 drew heavily on, and named, Professor Warhurst’s work. At Westminster, the UK Government’s Taylor Review recommended the use of a standard set of measurements to monitor job quality, which was accepted and adopted by the Government who implemented a metric based on the IER/CIPD model. Working with the CIPD, the IER took this model and transformed it into a monitoring tool for the CIPD: the new UK Working Lives survey. Administered annually by YouGov for the CIPD, this survey tracks the creation of 'good' jobs nationwide and informs the ongoing public debate.
Building on this work, Professor Warhurst was invited to join a Government working group into job quality as its sole academic adviser. The group drew in the Office for National Statistics, Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, employers, trade unions and civil society. The working group’s report recommended the model based on IER’s research for inclusion in the nationwide Labour Force Survey. As a result, Professor Warhurst and his team’s findings now form the foundation of how the Government measures job quality.