Empirical findings on the effect of good work on productivity at the sector level in the UK

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Author: Chris Warhurst, Derek Bosworth, Wil Hunt and Sudipa Sarkar, The University of Warwick

Year: 2021

Good work is vital to personal, community and societal wellbeing. Meanwhile, for several years poor productivity has been seen as an underlying weakness of the UK’s economy. Many business leaders and managers intuitively sense that if they treat their employers well by providing good quality working conditions, employees are likely to respond in kind through demonstrating higher performance and commitment. However, there has been limited examination of the evidence base between different aspects of work quality and improved worker productivity. Strengthening the evidence base could support more business leaders and managers to make a concerted focus on improving job quality by demonstrating a clear return on investment and route to improved productivity.

As part of a programme of work examining job quality and productivity, in 2019, the Carnegie UK Trust commissioned the Warwick Institute of Employment Research (IER) to generate just such an evidence base. IER produced a literature review and new analysis of UK job quality and productivity datasets, taking seven key dimensions of good work and looking at workers’ productivity outcomes. The findings demonstrate a clear and compelling link between good work and improved worker productivity.

The first summary of the research findings was published in the essay collection Can Good Work Solve the Productivity Puzzle in January 2020, but publication of the full research reports was delayed by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. We publish the full reports now, believing that the findings are highly pertinent as the phased lifting of many coronavirus restrictions allows businesses to turn their focus to their business models and approaches for the reopening and recovery of their operations. If businesses are to build back better from the pandemic and contribute to improved wellbeing, a focus on good work should be at the heart of plans for the economic recovery.

Read the literature review and empirical findings report.

Read a summary of the research findings, excerpted from Can Good Work Solve the Productivity Puzzle (first published January 2020).

Other reports in this series are:


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