Fair work and good jobs are good for employees, employers and society

There is now increasing attention nationally and internationally on the potential for synergy between agile and high performing businesses/organisations, high quality, inclusive and fairly rewarded work and effective, efficient and prosperous societies. Research clearly highlights the relationship between job and employment quality on the one hand, and poverty, health and well-being on the other. Poor quality jobs can impact negatively on physical and mental health and well-being. Poor quality jobs contribute not only to in-work poverty but also to lifelong poverty beyond working life. Good jobs bring business benefits in terms of individual performance, flexibility and willingness to change and innovate. Employers who offer good jobs identify benefits in terms of recruitment and retention. Well-designed tasks encourage staff to use their skills and talents effectively, encouraging better performance. Good employment practices can support the alignment of employer and employee aspirations. Constructive and collaborative workplace relations - individual and collective - can support all stakeholders in facing inevitable business challenges. Good jobs contribute to economic competitiveness and social cohesion. Crucially, good jobs encourage the innovation that drives wealth creation.

What makes a good job?

There are a variety of ways of thinking about what makes a job good and a range of ways to measure job quality. Essentially, components of job quality include:

Task factors: the intrinsic nature of the work that is done

These include pace; skills; autonomy; challenge; discretion; ability to make a difference; the physical working conditions/work environment; and opportunities for development.

Employment factors: the contractual arrangements around work

These include pay and opportunities for pay progression; job and employment security; benefits (such as sick pay and pension arrangements); hours of work; and work-life balance.

Workplace factors: relationships and governance at work

These include perceptions of fairness; perceptions of trust; confidence in the ability of colleagues and managers; confidence in the integrity of colleagues and managers; perceptions of mutual respect; opportunity for voice; and due process/procedural justice.

How these various components of a job are aligned differs between workplaces and for different people. Overall we know that in good jobs, these key 'ingredients' are aligned in ways that allow individuals, organisations and society to flourish. In bad jobs, these factors combine to produce poor outcomes for everyone. Research tells us that good jobs decrease the burden of physical and psychological illness (and the costs of treating illness), reduce poverty (with impacts on the welfare system), encourage social inclusion, improve productivity and agility and strengthen businesses and societies.