The Brief

The UK performs poorly on productivity. Despite working longer hours, we produce less in five days than workers in Germany produce in four. There are many views on the productivity gap and how it can be resolved to drive up living standards in the UK. But less examined and debated is the role of good quality jobs, and what specific aspects of these can make workers more productive.

The UK Government Industrial Strategy describes the link between job quality and productivity, pledging ‘continuous improvements in the quality of jobs, with the UK reaping the rewards in terms of advanced growth and productivity.

However, we don’t know enough about the drivers of productivity at firm level to understand where productivity and quality of work experienced by workers are mutually reinforcing, or where may be tension between these two goals. What impact do issues such as pay, job security, use of skills, and relationships with line management and colleagues have on productivity at firm level? Where do trade-offs exist, and how do employers navigate these?

The Carnegie UK Trust and the RSA are working together on a new project to examine these links and trade offs. We are bringing together an Expert Group to review the evidence, supported by new research and analysis from the Warwick Institute for Employment Research. We will speak directly to employers about the job quality and productivity choices we face, to arrive at a new narrative for how the UK can pursue forms of productivity growth which enable improvements in job quality.

The Quality of Work and Productivity Expert Group will be chaired by Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA, author of the Taylor Review and member of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Council.

In addition to Carnegie UK and the RSA, contributors to the group include the CBI, TUC, Resolution Foundation, McKinsey Centre for Government, Be the Business, King’s College London and the University of Oxford.

The Warwick Institute for Employment Research, who will produce expert technical briefings for the process, is a leading international research centre, with over 30 years’ experience of researching the labour market and its relationships with the wider economy.

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