We should measure workers’ mental health and job security, says new Carnegie UK Trust-RSA report

September 7, 2018

Share this story


Today the Carnegie UK Trust launched Measuring Good Work, a report which presents a new framework for measuring quality of work in the UK.

The CUKT-RSA publication is the output of the independent working group comprised of senior representatives from across industry, trade unions, charities and academia, and chaired by Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of the Carnegie UK Trust, and Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA and author of the Taylor Review.

The Group was brought together to consider the practical challenges of implementing national job quality measurement in the UK as a means to understand how the UK currently performs on job quality and what action can be taken to deliver improvements in work. The need to develop job quality metrics was called for by Matthew in his 2017 Review of Modern Employment, commissioned by the Prime Minister – an ambition subsequently committed to be the UK Government in their Good Work Plan. Measuring Good Work now sets out a roadmap for how the ambition can be achieved.

Employment has a major impact on people’s wellbeing and quality of life. The UK has experienced record employment since the 2008 financial crisis, but our employment statistics fail to account for issues like worker pay; whether workers feel they are trapped in a job below their skillset; are working too few or too many hours; or are facing excessive pressure at work.

Measuring Good Work proposes adding a series of new questions – from work-life balance to mental health, and from opportunities for progression to feelings of purpose, involvement and control at work – to the annual official Labour Force Survey, the largest and most comprehensive annual household study in the UK.

The report estimates that for £200,000­ – a comparatively tiny fraction of government spending –policymakers would be able to gain significant new insights into how the changing workplace and issues like the rise of the gig economy and automation are affecting workers from around the UK.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA and co-chair of the Measuring Job Quality Working Group, said:

“A focus on record employment levels and the quantity of work only tells us so much: we do not know whether workers feel happy, well-treated, have opportunities for progression, work the number of hours they want to, or feel they have control over their working lives.

To manage this problem, we must measure this problem.

By expanding the official and most comprehensive survey of UK households – the Labour Force Survey – we can get a properly comprehensive assessment of the quality of work in the UK.”

Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of the Carnegie UK Trust and Group co-chair, said:

“Employment in the UK is at a record high but there are fears that too many workers are in jobs which offer low pay, limited prospects and which ultimately do not positively enhance their wellbeing.

The detailed measurement framework proposed by our Measuring Job Quality Group will help us track who in the UK does and does not enjoy good work – and provide a platform for change. This is only the beginning of journey toward improving work in the UK, which will need commitment from government, employers, trade unions and campaigners. We hope our proposed metrics will make an important and sustained contribution, helping the UK track and deliver progress towards the ambition of good for work for all.

Kelly Tolhurst MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, said:

“The vast majority of people benefit from fair and decent work and through our modern Industrial Strategy we are helping businesses create well paid skilled jobs all over the country. We are giving millions of workers new rights and workplace protections and this report will be very helpful as we bring forward further workplace reforms.”

Professor Christopher Warhurst, Director of the Warwick Institute for Employment Research, and member of the Measuring Job Quality Group, said:

“Creating more good work is one of the pressing policy issues of our time. This Report represents a major step forward. In a field marked by differing opinions and interests, the Carnegie and RSA have done a remarkable job in developing a consensual approach to measuring job quality. Their recommendations will establish a new baseline of information from which the UK and devolved governments can help improve the quality of working lives across the UK.”

Read the Measuring Good Work report or executive summary, or join in the debate on Twitter about #MeasuringGoodWork

The following individuals participated in the Measuring Job Quality Working Group:

Matthew Taylor (Co-Chair) Chief Executive RSA

Martyn Evans (Co-Chair) Chief Executive Carnegie UK Trust

Gill Dix, Acas

Douglas White, Carnegie UK Trust

Mark Diffley, Carnegie UK Trust

Gail Irvine, Carnegie UK Trust

Jonny Gifford, CIPD

Sonali Parekh, Federation of Small Business

Emelia Quist, Federation of Small Business

Paul Devoy, Investors in People

Joe Dromey, IPPR

Louise Woodruff, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

David Freeman, Office for National Statistics

Conor D’Arcy, Resolution Foundation

Sarah Gallo, Tesco PLC

Paul Nowak, TUC

Chris Warhurst, Warwick Institute for Employment Research

Nancy Hey, What Works Wellbeing

Lesley Giles, Work Foundation

Officials from the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy attended Group meetings during 2018.