Are trade-offs necessary when it comes to job quality?

A new report from the CIPD finds that job quality has remained stable over the pandemic year, but calls on employers to reconsider issues such as work life balance.

Couple Protecting Balance Between Work And Life On Seesaw


Employers should examine potential trade-offs in job quality, such as poor work-life balance and consider whether these are necessary, according to a report by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development [CIPD] which shows room for improvement on a number of key measures.

The CIPD’s latest Good Work Index, which is based on a representative survey of 6,257 workers and offers a snapshot of work in the UK by measuring seven dimensions of good work, found that, although there had been no material changes in job quality in the last year,  that most jobs come with trade-offs when it comes to different aspects of job quality.

For example, it found that those in routine occupations are less likely to report having access to skills and development (27%) compared to over half of those in higher managerial and professional roles.

Furloughed workers were also found to be in occupations that are less likely to have good opportunities for skills development, with only 40% of those who gave an opinion saying their job offers opportunity to develop their skills. This compares with 54% of workers not furloughed.

The report also found that one in four workers said work is bad for their physical or mental wellbeing and only half said their work offered good opportunities for development while a quarter reported poor work–life balance and 30% said their workloads were unmanageable.

The CIPD says that to address some of these persisting job inequalities and create better jobs, employers should examine potential trade-offs in job quality, for instance, higher workloads for homeworkers having more autonomy, and consider whether these are necessary. It says: “Wellbeing should remain high on the agenda even when the pandemic subsides, and employers should review flexible working options to address the work-life balance challenges your workforce faces.”

The CIPD also suggests that employers prioritise better skills development and monitor workloads and put enough resource in place to avoid overwork – especially for remote workers and key workers.

A report this week by City & Guilds Group and Emsi, which polled 2,000 working-age adults, found 61 per cent did not feel they had all the skills they will need over the next five years and 64 per cent said they had not received any training in the past year.

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