The CIPD’s new report offers a breakdown of job quality across the UK workforce

Following on from the recommendations of the Taylor Review into modern employment practices, the CIPD have produced a report to measure job quality. The outcome of the review declared that all employment in the UK should be “fair and decent with realistic scope for development and fulfilment”.

Which is why the UK Working Lives survey reveals the first comprehensive measure of job quality in the UK, across workforce levels, sectors and regions. On the whole, British workers are happy with their jobs with 64% claiming they felt satisfied and just one in five (18%) dissatisfied.

Commenting on the survey findings, Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, said “The Government has been clear that it wants to improve job quality in the UK, but in order to create quality jobs you have to be able to know one when you see one. We have a record number of people in work, but we have to make sure that we have quality as well as quantity, and that means making sure every job is a good job. That is why we have undertaken the first comprehensive measure to help understand and clearly map job quality in the UK.”

However, the survey delves deeper to identify the key challenges faced by the three main groups in the labour market.

The Taylor Review identified workers in the fast-growing gig economy, low-skilled and casual work sector were in the most difficult position. The survey seemed to confirm this with more than a third (37%) not receiving any training in the last 12 months while two in five (43%) didn’t believe their jobs offered them good opportunities or forward mobility.

This lack of developmental opportunities means workers are left with no opportunity for growth. And with Brexit just around the corner and a widening skills gap, employers need to invest in their employees to mitigate any negative outcomes.

A concerning trend among workers in middle management also arose from the survey with three in ten (28%) respondents stating their work has a negative impact on their mental health. While more than a third (35%) are left feeling overwhelmed with too much work to do. Being the cushion between lower level employees and senior management can take its toll and employers need to provide the support necessary for this not to become an overall wellbeing issue.

“Those in management positions are often overworked, which can not only lead to stress and poor mental health, but also means they are not able to manage their teams to the best of their ability. Stress in the workplace passes down, and combined with the concerning lack of training and development opportunities for those in low-skilled work, is a heady mix which needs to be better understood and addressed to enable better productivity and well-being across all organisations.” Cheese adds.

While those lower down the ladder may be struggling, the same cant be said for those at the top. 60% of senior leaders have greater access to flexible working, with most choosing to work from home in normal hours. The only draw back senior leaders face is with work-life balance, with (28%) saying they find it difficult to fulfil personal commitments because of their job.

Lynn Cahillane, Jobs Expert at totaljobs says “We found that only 8% of senior business decision makers feel they are given enough support to help employees with mental health issues and the CIPD’s report further emphasises the struggles of many in the UK workforce. This shocking statistic further demonstrates the need for mental health and overall workplace happiness to be taken more seriously by senior management teams. In order to maintain a healthy and productive workforce, changes such as introducing flexible working (44%) and encouraging regular breaks (28%) are gradually emerging, which illustrates how companies are beginning to make changes in this area. There is a lot more work to do to improve mental health and wellbeing services at work, and we are looking forward to seeing how companies respond to this need as mental health moves up our topical work agenda.”

The CIPD have compiled a series of recommendations split between what Employers and the Government to help improve job quality:

Employers should:

  • • Offer clear pathways for progression (e.g. apprenticeships and mentoring schemes to ensure all their workers have the opportunity to develop)
  • • Focus more on the design of jobs and work to ensure best use of skills and clearer progression paths
  • • Ensure that all employees have a meaningful voice in the organisation through both individual and collective channels, and via formal and informal mechanisms
  • • Increase the provision of flexible working practices across their workplace
  • • Monitor workloads and deadlines to ensure people aren’t feeling under excessive pressure at work
  • • Conduct a stress audit and direct resources to reduce or eliminate the sources of stress at work
  • • Signpost support services to all staff and consider offering an employer-funded support programme
  • • Adopt a clear approach to remote working and out-of-hours working and create a wider enabling culture where senior managers feel trusted and empowered to take ownership of their work.

Government should:

  • • Introduce mid-life career MOTs and greater investment in careers advice, information and guidance
  • • Increase the quantity and quality of vocational education and training by reframing the Apprenticeship Levy as a more flexible training levy and ensuring that all the money raised is spent on adult skills and training
  • • Promote lifelong learning. Government should revisit the potential for personal learning accounts, but with greater scope for individual and employer co-investment and a much closer link with high-quality careers information, advice, and guidance
  • • Provide funding for better support for small firms at a local level to help them improve their people management and development practices. Small businesses often don’t even have the basics of good people management practice in place and too many owner managers lack the time, resources or knowledge to improve how they manage and invest in their people
  • • Ensure the Health and Safety Executive has sufficient resources to encourage all employers to meet their existing legal duty to identify and manage the causes of work-related stress
  • • Continue to promote the measurement and understanding of good work, building the evidence, and integrating into the thinking of the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

Jonny Gifford, senior adviser for organisational behaviour at the CIPD, states, “In terms of overall solutions, the message is clear: healthy workers are happy and productive workers. If there’s one ultimate aim in job quality it should be to improve the well-being of our workers.

“We also need to look closely at the main factors that facilitate or get in the way of better quality jobs. More extensive training and development must be part of the solution, so workers can develop in their careers and feel more fulfilled in their work. There are also many things employers can do that make a real difference – in particular, fostering better workplace relationships and giving employees voice and choice on aspects of their working lives.”