How do we measure job quality for workers and society?

18 September 2018

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Last week I wrote about the quality of work and whether people feel that the jobs they do make a difference.

A new report covers the same issue from the other side of the coin, looking at the quality of work from the perspective of society and the economy.

In our fast-paced digital world and our fluid economy, we need to develop new ways to measure job quality. It’s sobering to think that in a generation’s time, 75% of today’s jobs won’t exist.

As a Glasgow-based recruitment agency, re-evaluating how we measure success provides a major challenge but also real opportunities and, in an ever-changing world, the role played by recruitment and employment professionals is pivotal.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) is doing some great work in this field through its Future of Jobs Commission.

The commission featured largely in a report published recently by the Carnegie Trust that reinforced the importance of constantly measuring change across regions and sectors.

It said ‘quality of work’ metrics must be authoritative, robust but also easy to understand and must be clear about demonstrating the wider benefits. As a Glasgow jobs agency, we think that's vitally important.

Kate Bell, Head of Economic and Social Affairs at the TUC made the important point at the launch of the report that “quality of work is not only important for individuals, it is also key to boosting productivity".

Driving ‘good work’ in specific industries will also help attract people into sectors such as logistics and care which face major staffing challenges, she said.

Also speaking at the launch of the report was Mathew Taylor, a former adviser to the Labour government and now CEO of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).

As author of the government-commissioned Taylor Review, he has argued that "quality and quantity of work can and do go hand in hand; both are necessary for a thriving economy and society".

But what does ‘good work’ look like? Taylor said it was ‘work that is fair and decent, with realistic scope for development and fulfilment’. On all these measures, recruitment professionals can make a positive impact; we need to be proactive in explaining how.

The Glasgow recruitment industry is focused on helping people to find a job, then helping them to find a better job.

Good work is also about how a job makes people feel. Doing the right thing in terms of compliance and worker rights is part of this; as is the ability to match the right people to the right job in the first place.

The recrutiment industry provides a crucial outlet for individuals; examples include providing Employee Assistance Programmes for temporary staff or taking forward issues raised by workers with end-users.

Generating work is important but so too is ensuring that the wort of work we provide benefits the individual and society. It's a tough ask but it's comforting to know that organisations like the REC are keeping ahead of the game.

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