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Good Work and our Times


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This is the report of the Good Work Commission. The Commissioners are a group of individuals with a great breadth and depth of experience in leading organisations across all sectors, including …

This is the report of the Good Work Commission. The Commissioners are a group of individuals with a great breadth and depth of experience in leading organisations across all sectors, including business, government, the unions, the church, media and the voluntary sector. They believe that ‘good work’ is a benefit to employees, employers and society alike – and that it is possible to make it more rewarding for all involved.

Flowing from that, the purpose of the report is to explore what makes ‘good work’ and how to create more of it. It is based on two key assets: the great breadth of experience and views of the Commissioners and the considerable body of research produced by the Work Foundation over the past decade. The Work Foundation presented a set of eight Provocation Papers to the Commissioners to inform their thinking and stimulate debate. The report draws heavily on those papers and over twenty other studies produced by the Foundation, as well as a wide range of literature produced by others in the UK and elsewhere. Personal perspectives from the Commissioners are incorporated throughout the report, reinforcing and accenting the research-based narrative about the nature of ‘good work’.

The aspiration is for the report to be useful for people who have leadership and management roles in organisations, prompting reflection about how effectively their organisation is dealing with these issues and providing practical suggestions about how they could take it to the next level.

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  • 1. Good Work and our TimesReport of the Good Work CommissionLucy Parker and Stephen Bevan, July 2011
  • 2. ConTenTsexeCuTive summAry 5ChApTer 1: Work in our Times 8ChApTer 2: meAninG And purpose 13ChApTer 3: The expliCiT deAl 38ChApTer 4: The impliCiT deAl 52ChApTer 5: WhAT hAppens When Work Goes 71ChApTer 6: on The horizon – FuTure Trends 88ChApTer 7: CreATinG more Good Work 94Good Work And our Times 1
  • 3. ForeWordForeWordMaking work more rewarding for the individual, their organisation and society, is not a new subject, butit is a big one. The larger the frame you put it in, the larger it gets. So from the beginning we recognisedthat we needed to assemble a range of diverse voices to debate the subject and take a holisticapproach to ensure we could examine the detail without losing sight of the wider context.It was therefore enormously valuable to have such a great mix of Commissioners prepared to investtime and thought in what has been a long and rewarding process. We were hugely fortunate to benefitfrom the business expertise of some of the country’s top Chief Executives, combined with contributionsfrom forward-thinking Trade Unionists, leaders in the public sector and the Church. It was a remarkablypowerful and exciting forum in which to explore the subject.Our concepts of work have deep historical, social, and often religious roots. The evolution in thinkingand practices has developed enormously in the last two hundred years, and in the last few decades,huge developments in technology and globalisation have created not just new ways of working, but newglobal forces such as the global capital markets and consumer engagement. The importance of thevalues of ‘good work’ become increasingly clear as we consider our future in the twenty first century.In the last 20 years it seems that the primacy of financial capital has overshadowed the contribution andinvestment potential of the people working within or for an organisation. If we can take any true positivesout of the credit crunch, one of them is an overdue rebalancing of this view.The recent financial crisis crystallised a lot of profound concerns about how we do business. In times ofcrisis the “how” becomes more important from a risk management point of view, but the bigger trend ishow ‘good work’ can be at the heart of high performance organisations. Whether as an individual or asan organisation, it is a key ingredient in creating the winners of tomorrow.If you were ever of the school of thought that the best way to achieve top performance is by focussingan organisation on its profits or return on financial capital alone, then I can only recommend you askPhilip Dilley, CEO of Arup, to outline why the “Big Speech” by Ove Arup given in 1955 is not just stillrelevant, but is at the heart of their global success as an organisation. That speech, available on theirwebsite, defined so many of the principles of how they want to work and has undoubtedly helped thembecome world leaders in their industry.Their approach to how they do business has not only made them more profitable but their success hasmade a direct impact on the cities all over the world that they have helped design and create. This is thevalue of ‘good work’ writ large - in their case, actually on the skyline. At the same time it has benefittedthe lives of everybody in the firm and the people they deal with. We have had the privilege of many suchcontributions so it is hard not to be inspired by the opportunity ahead.Another new and powerful force behind the increasing recognition of the value of ‘good work’ is thegrowing interest and demand from the end consumer. In addition to the perennial concerns such asprice and quality, how something is made, whether it is electricity, food or motorcars, and how thatorganisation operates is now rising rapidly up the consumer agenda.This is closely linked with the employee agenda and what is generally titled “employee engagement”.There is a huge amount of work dedicated to this area and we have had some valuable debates on thesubject. Central to all of it is the power of belief. The belief that the job you are doing is important and2 Good Work And our Times
  • 4. ForeWordvaluable. In short, answering the question, “Is there a purpose to what I am doing and can I be proud ofdoing it well?”It does not matter what level or type of job it is - these are not just powerful but universal questions. Oneof the key differentiators of great organisations and strong leadership is that they set out to answer them.One of the most interesting issues is why more organisations do not pursue the opportunities when thebody of knowledge is so strong. This is partly why we wanted to draw on the enormous experience ofthe Commissioners - so that we could better understand what does not work and what the barriers areto progressing this thinking in different types of organisations. It is also why we conclude with a practicalagenda and a framework for discussion which can be used by leadership teams in any organisation.I would like to thank all the Commissioners and their organisations for their untiring support andenormously valuable contributions. We also had fantastic insights from a lot of other organisations andindividuals, such as McKinsey, Richard Donkin and the Bishop of London. I would also like to thank LucyParker for pulling together the enormous range of work evidenced here, and the writing of this report, and finally I would like to thank Stephen Bevan and The Work Foundation team, who were both theoriginators of the idea and stalwart supporters throughout.I hope this report inspires both interest and action, as the power of ‘good work’ must surely be one ofthe most liberating and creative forces in society. There is an enormous amount of it being done, and theopportunity for greater progress is, I believe, both a challenge and an inspiration.Alan ParkerChair, Good Work CommissionGood Work And our Times 3
  • 5. The Good Work CommissionersAlan Parker John HannettChair of the Commission – Founder and General Secretary, UsdawChairman, the Brunswick Group Peter HousdenAndy Bond Permanent Secretary, Scottish GovernmentChairman of Republic andformer Chairman of Asda Will Hutton Vice Chair, The Work FoundationClare ChapmanDirector General of Workforce for the Jim McAuslanNational Health Service and Social Care, General Secretary, British Airline Pilots’Department of Health AssociationRichard Chartres Peter SandsThe Bishop of London Group Chief Executive, Standard CharteredTracy Clarke John VarleyGroup Head of Human Resources Formerly Group Chief Executive, Barclaysand Communications, Standard Chartered Kim WinserAdam Crozier Chairman, Agent Provocateur, and SeniorChief Executive of ITV Advisor, 3iCarolyn GrayHuman Resources and Pensions Director,Guardian Media Group4 Good Work And our Times
  • 6. exeCuTive summAryGood Work And our Times –exeCuTive summAryThis is the report of the Good Work Commission. The Commissioners are a group of individuals with agreat breadth and depth of experience in leading organisations across all sectors, including business,government, the unions, the church, media and the voluntary sector. They believe that ‘good work’ is abenefit to employees, employers and society alike – and that it is possible to make it more rewarding forall involved.Flowing from that, the purpose of the report is to explore what makes ‘good work’ and how tocreate more of it. It is based on two key assets: the great breadth of experience and views of theCommissioners and the considerable body of research produced by the Work Foundation over the pastdecade. The Work Foundation presented a set of eight Provocation Papers to the Commissioners toinform their thinking and stimulate debate. The report draws heavily on those papers and over twentyother studies produced by the Foundation, as well as a wide range of literature produced by others inthe UK and elsewhere. Personal perspectives from the Commissioners are incorporated throughout thereport, reinforcing and accenting the research-based narrative about the nature of ‘good work’.The aspiration is for the report to be useful for people who have leadership and management roles inorganisations, prompting reflection about how effectively their organisation is dealing with these issuesand providing practical suggestions about how they could take it to the next level.The first chapter of the report, Work and Our Times, sets the context. The significance of work is anenduring theme. Throughout history, cultures have been shaped by the nature of work and the toolswhich people have at their disposal. The subject has been given new emphasis in our times by theinformation revolution, which has transformed so much so quickly about the way in which individuals,businesses and society live and work.In recent years too, the impact of the financial crisis and the global recession has shaken assumptionsabout the purpose and value of business to society. And even beyond the financial crisis, there iswidespread distrust of leading organisations – and leaders – that crosses business and social sectors.Though this was not the impetus behind producing the report, it has highlighted the importance ofarticulating the principles of meaningful and good work. The chapter also draws in the major globaltrends, from technological change to the rise of the consumer, which are having a direct impact on theworkplace today – and which create the backdrop this report.The chapter on Meaning and Purpose argues that finding meaning in work matters to people and isintrinsic to the nature of ‘good work’. Indeed, it is impossible to think of ‘good work’ which people findmeaningless. Our proposition is that this principle is universal; it applies to everyone whatever kind ofjob they do and wherever they fit an organisation. The challenge for employers is to find new ways ofresponding to that aspiration for their entire workforce, rather than just for a lucky few.Meaningful work is made up of a subtle mix of factors which is not the same for everyone and canchange over someone’s lifetime. While leaders cannot provide meaning, as such, they can provide theconditions for people to do that for themselves by clearly setting out the purpose of the organisation.And there are practical ways to reinforce the connection, including through ownership models and givingemployees a voice in the organisation, through to designing jobs and workflow to make work moreworthwhile and rewarding for both the organisation and individuals involved.Good Work And our Times 5
  • 7. exeCuTive summAryThe Explicit Deal is what people sign up to when they take a job. It is central to any employmentcontract, but it is not the whole employment relationship. Similarly, while pay is an essential element of‘good work’, it is by no means the whole deal – or even the primary motivator. How pay is allocated, forinstance, is as important to people as absolute pay.One of the most significant factors influencing the employment contract today is the enormousmomentum behind the trend for greater transparency. The desire for a sense of fairness about pay,especially the gap between the top and bottom levels, is fuelling the trend. But it encompasses moreaspects of organisational culture than pay; for instance, performance management, where the challengeof tackling poor performance is as significant as rewarding strong performance. Our view is that there isa real opportunity for employers to embrace the trend towards transparency and actively work with it asa mechanism to establish fairness and build trust.Though recent years have seen a decline in the number and membership of unions, they continue toplay a significant role in the workplace. There is a broader negotiating agenda than ever before, reachingbeyond pay, grievance and discipline, to cover skills, diversity and flexibility – because those are centralto the concerns of today’s workforce. Among the progressive unions, the trend has been moving awayfrom a sometimes adversarial position to a dialogue based on defining mutual benefit – a more modernparadigm that is relevant to the employer-employee relationship, whether or not it falls within formalunion negotiations.The Implicit Deal explores the many other aspects of the employer-employee relationship which addup to the day-to-day experience of work. This chapter argues that making the connection to the corepurpose of the organisation is the key to ‘employee engagement’. That is what elevates employeeengagement programmes above the transactional level into adding value to the business and toemployees.There are multiple facets to creating a committed workforce, from giving people autonomy in their jobs toa voice in the organisation; from matching qualifications and skill levels to the job in hand to the capabilityfor fostering innovation. One of the most significant modern factors is the growing desire for flexibility,which is coming from both employees and employers. The complexity of these inter-related topics requiresthoughtful orchestration; it is not possible to rely on them occurring spontaneously. The competence offront line managers is a decisive factor in the culture and performance of an organisation: they are theconduit for communicating purpose and the day-to-day experience of work for employees – good andbad – is largely governed by how they carry out their role. Therefore how they are selected, trained andequipped is vital – and they need to know their responsibility for making it a good place to work.The alignment between employees’ experience of ‘good work’ and successful business performancecan be measured in a number of different ways – including, on one hand, the health and well-being ofthe workforce leading to reduced absenteeism and, on the other, customer satisfaction driving salesgrowth. The investment in time and resources required to create an engaged workforce is a win:win– a business case for employers in improved performance and productivity; a more meaningful andrewarding experience of work for employees.In this report on the nature of work, we have chosen to include a chapter on the subject ofWhat Happens When Work Goes. This report argues that a company’s approach to managing jobloss can be seen as the acid test of its claim to be a ‘good work’ organisation.The individual and societal cost of unemployment is a powerful expression of the value of work itself.During the downturn of recent years, there have been many examples of employers and employeesworking collaboratively to find innovative ways of mitigating the most damaging effects of redundancy.Apart from the practical result of protecting jobs for the long term, those instances exemplify many ofthe principles of what makes up good work, such as shared decision making, flexibility, transparentcommunications.6 Good Work And our Times
  • 8. exeCuTive summAryEmployees and employers alike recognise that, these days, guaranteeing job security is unrealistic.However, skills are increasingly becoming a passport to employability in the modern labour market– and employers have a role to play in helping to ensure their people are equipped with the kinds oftransferable skills which will be their best asset in the future.On the Horizon looks at the trends which are likely to influence the workplace in the coming years.Growing globalisation and the interconnectedness of markets, growing technological innovation andthe widespread use of it in and beyond the workplace, and the growing power of the consumer areforces we recognise today, and they are all set to intensify. For people leading organisations – public orprivate, large or small – the challenge is to recognise how those great macro-trends will translate into theworkplace and directly affect the experience of work.Creating More Good Work is the final chapter of the report. The experience of the Commissioners,and many other experts in the field of employment, is that people are becoming increasingly vocal aboutwhat they want from work. The report aims to turn the insights into a provocation for action.Therefore, in conclusion, we have set out a series of questions that provide a framework which can beused in any organisation to prompt discussion about how to make work more rewarding for employerand employees. The framework aims to help people who lead organisations and teams to formulatetheir own answer to the questions, ‘Why is this a good place to work and what can be done to make itbetter?’Good Work And our Times 7
  • 9. Work in our TimesWork in our TimesThe chapters which follow make the case for more ‘good work’ but, by way of introduction, we begin bysetting out the context which is influencing work in our times.Work And The humAn CondiTionThe importance of work in our lives is an enduring theme, of course. The history of civilisations has beenbound up with the nature of work in society – and even defined by the tools which people have at theirdisposal. The evidence can be traced back to the agrarian communities of 10,000 years ago, whenthe invention of new tools and new ways of producing and storing crops enabled mankind to make theradical shift from the lifestyle of hunter gatherers to farming – and fundamentally changed the way welive. It happened again during the 18th and 19th centuries when steam-based mechanisation createdthe basis for an industrialised society – transforming the nature of work and life once more.So, as Richard Donkin1 puts it, since the start of human evolution, the tools we have invented haveplayed a vital role in ‘extending our ambition and stimulating creativity’. Today, Donkin and othersargue, we are in the midst of a third revolution – the information revolution. Once more, born out oftechnological innovation, new tools are bringing huge changes into the workplace, which prompt a re-examination of what work means in our times.TodAy’s Crisis oF TrusTThere is also a contemporary context for this report. Since the financial crisis, some of our basicassumptions about how the economy works and the purpose and conduct of organisations have beenshaken. There are immediate economic consequences of the credit crunch and recession, which arevisible in higher levels of business failure and unemployment across all developed economies, along withsevere cuts in public spending and rising taxes to follow. But the significance of the crisis in relation tothe workplace reaches still further than that.It has also exposed issues of business purpose and leadership, and of morality, transparency and trust.The values of work are in the dock. How can work which leads to such consequences be thought of as‘good work’? How can the judgement of such leadership be trusted?After decades during which so much economic activity has been driven by the rise of the capitalmarkets worldwide, the primacy of shareholder value as the dominant definition and benchmark ofsuccessful companies has been challenged. Some commentators think everything will return to ‘normal’as the spectre of recession fades and the desire for a swift return to economic growth intensifies.Others take the view that the rules have changed forever and new standards of public accountabilityand regulatory oversight need to be applied. It is still not clear how it will play out, but the near collapseof the banking system will have been a watershed moment for this generation: there was one set ofassumptions before it and another after it.These are the same few years which have seen BP’s environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, theexpenses scandals in Westminster and the loss of confidential data by government departments, andapologies for breaches of trust from the highest level of church organisations. They have all led theheadlines repeatedly, building on each other and reinforcing a common culture of distrust in the leadersof our major institutions. This erosion of confidence goes way beyond cynicism about commercial1 Donkin R, Work Futures, The Future of Work: Provocation Paper 1, Good Work Commission, 2009.8 Good Work And our Times
  • 10. Work in our Timesorganisations which are driven by maximising profit. They illustrate the scale of today’s challenge to re-establish trust, and re-state the purpose and values of the organisations we work in throughout society.Though the financial crisis began to unfold at the time the Commissioners first gathered, it was notthe reason for taking on the task. But the events of these few years have thrown into sharp relief therelevance of articulating the principles of ‘good work’.GlobAl TrendsIn painting the backdrop to this report, we should sketch in broad brushstrokes the part played by theforces of globalisation as they relate to work. The financial crisis itself powerfully demonstrated howthe business sector is woven tightly into a fabric of interdependence around the world. The reality isthat many businesses, large and small, are now trying to compete and grow in the context of a globalmarketplace. For many large businesses, customers and investors are now global, but so too are workforces and supply chains.The story can be told through how the operations of many familiar British corporates have transformedover the past ten to fifteen years. Rolls-Royce, for instance, has grown from a Midlands manufacturerto a global player with almost 40,000 employees worldwide, 40 per cent of them outside the UK,compared to only 7 per cent 20 years ago. As BP’s recent troubles highlighted, 40 per cent ofthe company’s shareholder base is in the US, as are 40 per cent of its employees. KPMG, a UKaccountancy firm founded in the 19th century, has expanded into 146 countries to meet the needs of itsincreasingly international customers. Marks and Spencer once built its reputation on its British producedproducts and faced protests when it first extended its supply relationships beyond the UK in the 1990s,whereas today it cites an integrated international supply chain as key to its growth plans.Many well-known household names in the UK are owned outside the country, and are now inherentlypart of the global strategy of other organisations. Abbey National, once a consumer name on the HighStreet in Britain, is part of Spain’s Santander Group. Boots is part of the Allianz Boots group, nowhead quartered in Switzerland. British Airways has merged with the Spanish airline, Iberia. The energygenerator and supplier, npower, has been acquired by RWE based in Germany. Corus – and the oncemighty British steel industry – is bound up in the fortunes of the Indian based Tata Group and the globalsteel industry.The requirement to operate on a global platform is not the preserve of big companies alone. All over thecountry smaller businesses are adapting fast. Take Pennine Healthcare in the Midlands: it started as alocal family business in the 1960s and has evolved into a global manufacturer of healthcare productswith customers from New Zealand to the Middle East, competing over the internet for contracts withcompanies based in South Korea. Or Meachers in Southampton: a local trucking firm which hastransformed into a sophisticated international logistics business, with established partners in China andIT systems that can track the goods across the world. These examples are simply fragments of thebroader picture of globalisation in the business world – a sign of our times.2Yet, it remains true that for many employees in the UK, and indeed many employers, their own directconnection to a global market is not immediately obvious to them. It may be that the horizon of theirworkplace and their customers are limited to the neighbourhood they are based in because they are inlocal service jobs – anything from hairdressing to nursing, car mechanics to graphic design. The forcesof globalisation are relevant to them, nevertheless. The sustainability of their jobs is ultimately dependenton the ability of people in the local area or the government of the day to pay for their services.Indeed, the most deprived communities in the UK where people are trapped in a third generation ofworklessness prove the point. On the surface, these are the most isolated from the influence of theglobal capital markets. But the lack of work entrenched in those communities has been caused by the2 FutureStory, Talent and Enterprise Taskforce, with Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, Department of Children, Schools and Families, and Centre for Cities, 2010.Good Work And our Times 9
  • 11. Work in our Timessignificant shift of traditional UK industries to elsewhere in the world, whether in steel, shipbuilding or carassembly. Genuine regeneration in these areas is dependent on the creation of new work, often requiringnew skills, in businesses and industries which can thrive in today’s global markets.Employers in developed economies cannot succeed by competing in low value products and services,and on low wages. So sustainable employment will need to come from higher value work and highervalue skills. In the UK, growth and new jobs will be driven by the knowledge economy. Over the pastten years, for every new job created in the more traditional industries, twelve have been generated in theknowledge economy3, encompassing sectors such as the creative industries, high-tech manufacturing,telecommunications and low carbon technologies – which indicate where the jobs of the future are likelyto come from.Technology is one of the forces driving globalisation and changing the shape of work for many people.Increasing automation is replacing many of the semi-skilled and even skilled roles of the past, from banktellers to booking agents. And it is increasing the requirement for non-routine skills, from analysts tocustomer service.For individuals in their day jobs, the arrival of new technological processes can bring contradictoryeffects. The constant push to take products or services to market ahead of others, and to achievethat with a lower cost base, can create a relentless culture in business, putting pressure on workingconditions and rewards. For some, technology expands the opportunity for autonomy and creativity.For others, it reduces discretion because jobs and processes are monitored to a degree of detail neverpossible before. In some types of jobs, it offers high levels of fulfilment and challenge. In others, itleads to greater intensity and stress, with evening and weekend working, and no license to turn off theblackberry: the ‘always-on technology’ creating ‘always-on jobs’. Many employees are interacting withwider and wider circles of people – which for some people represents broader horizons and, for others,makes for an unsettling boundariless world, breaking up a sense of immediate community and leadingto insecurity.The arrival of new technologies has established a new literacy in the workplace. Employees are requiredto have basic ICT skills, even in jobs which are not traditionally associated with technology – such aswaiters, shop assistants or lorry drivers. Patterns of work are altering: e-commmerce and servicesare changing the skills and resources needed in retail businesses; computer aided design enablesmanufacturing business to pass projects around the world on a 24 hour clock. In all sectors, fromadvanced manufacturing to filmmaking, from banking to healthcare, technological innovations arechanging how things are done and what it possible.New technologies are driving consumer markets too – and consumers are increasingly in the drivingseat. Indeed, the way society engages its citizens today is as consumers, rather than producers. Andas consumers, we continuously demand higher quality goods and services, we expect to shift providerwhen unsatisfied and – because of globalisation – we have got used to lower prices. Companies areusing novelty to win the hearts and minds of consumers, for example, with everything from new apps formobile phones to design-your-own-trainers. That, in turn, drives the need for higher levels of skills andflexibility from employees and a culture of speed and customer responsiveness in organisations.Over the past ten years, there has also been a transformation in how individuals entertain themselves,acquire information and communicate outside the workplace. Through search engines and open accesstools, blogs and social networking, people have access to an enormous wealth of information – andincreasingly they expect to get it for free and on the move. As important, they know they can author andpublish content themselves, which is then available worldwide. It has created a much more outspokenculture than in the past. People expect to be able to make their voice heard and to innovate directlythemselves.3 How cities can thrive in the changing economy? The Work Foundation, Ideopolis Final Report, July 2008.10 Good Work And our Times
  • 12. Work in our TimesYet we should pause to remember that ‘we’ are ‘them’. Outside work, we are the consumers that arechanging the face of work. So the values we express in our lives as consumers feed back into ourexpectations and aspirations for the places we work.So, like the agrarian and industrial revolutions of history, the digital tools and technologies at ourdisposal are creating the revolution of our times – and radically changing the way we live and work.What becomes clear is that old assumptions do not always apply any more and there is a need for usto construct new ways of operating and new paradigms suited to our changing times.There are enormous and complex forces acting on the kind of work we do and the places we work in.Though they are sweeping macro-trends, they directly affect the personal experience of work. They helpto provide a contemporary interpretation of the eternal theme of how work contributes to an individual’ssense of self and social value. The exceptional financial turmoil and crises of leadership of the past fewyears; global interconnectedness; the many new forms of technological tools available to us; our ownrising expectations as consumers and citizens – all require us to look afresh at the meaning of ‘goodwork’ to employers, employees and the society in which we live. Commissioner perspective from John Varley, formerly Barclays – on the strategic issue of trust Given what we’ve all lived through over the last two to three years, with the banking crisis leading into recession in many parts of the world, there’s an intensification of the need for worth and purpose and value in work. Employees want to feel that the organisation they work for is trusted. Indeed, it’s difficult to see how organisations can offer ‘good work’ in circumstances where trust has broken down. In my conversations with customers, I’ve noticed that they often draw a distinction between ‘banks’ and the bank employees who work in their local branch. They regard the one as an object of suspicion, but the other as a friend. I see this through customers who have written to me when things have gone wrong. They will speak with warmth about the cashier in their local branch, saying that she’s doing her very best to help and she’s only applying the policies which ‘you impose on her’. They distinguish the organisation as represented by the leadership from the human face of the organisation they encounter physically when they walk into a branch, or electronically when they talk to a call centre. It strikes me as very significant that five years ago many people would have said that if the work of a business was legal and profitable, that was sufficient justification. Today it’s clear that legality and profitability, in the absence of social contribution, are regarded as insufficient. That’s a big shift over the last few years and it seems to me to have been catalysed by the credit crunch. When I look at the contribution of big business today, it’s clear that the restitution of trust is an important strategic issue. It’s especially relevant for the banking industry, but it’s also part of a more general malaise about big business. An organisation that wants to offer ‘good work’ has to be sensitive to this change in expectation. Employers who show insensitivity here will find it increasingly difficult to recruit good people – or hold good people – and maintain trust with their customers.Good Work And our Times 11
  • 13. Work in our Times Commissioner perspective from Kim Winser, Agent Provocateur and 3i – on global markets One key factor that matters for our future is the global market. The world has become a smaller place in so many business areas and that’s not likely to change. I have worked across many countries in different businesses and I see how globalisation is having a serious impact in the marketplace, in our lifestyles and, of course, on the businesses themselves. Your competitors are no longer just the people down the road who you used to know by name; they are people you’ve never even heard of – they could be Chinese, or Japanese, American, or Swedish. Your business is in a much more vulnerable position because your competitors are people you don’t know and you can’t predict. That unsettles many people. For those who are very determined, and love a challenge, it probably incentivises them more. But for the majority, it probably scares them a little. We need to realise there are things which the Chinese, for example, do well and there are reasons why they do them well. But there are also things British people can do really well. We need to stop the global market being a subject in which we lack knowledge or talent. We must not fear our new competitors or try to emulate them. We need to understand them and their strengths, but then use that to reflect on our strengths and points of difference so that we can take up the market opportunities with confidence. We must turn what looks like a negative, with the growing threat of global competition, into a positive result for UK business by facing the challenge with good intelligence and understanding, and through the development of innovative talent and renewed energy.12 Good Work And our Times
  • 14. meAninG And purposemeAninG And purposePeople want their work to have meaning. When people speak of the meaning of work, typically, they usethe phrase to indicate more than the value of simply having a job. What is meaningful to an individual,by its nature, is subjective and personal to them, therefore not easy to generalise about. However, theconcept and what it encompasses has been studied and written about many times over the years.The seArCh For meAninGThe idea that work fulfils a profound human need has a long history and has often been the theme of thegreat philosophers. Immanuel Kant said: If a man has done much he is more contented after his labours than if he had done nothing whatever, for by work he has set his powers in motion.4In other words, work has the power to animate us.Taking a view across the modern studies of what makes work meaningful, what quickly comes acrossis that, though the categorisation or emphasis may alter, the core elements remain very consistent andprobably recognisable to most of us. The essence is captured by Studs Terkel’s famous words from theforeword of his 1974 book on work: Work is about a daily search for meaning as well as daily bread; for recognition as well as cash; for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life, rather than a Monday- to-Friday sort of dying.5Jesper Isaksen6, for instance, identified eight routes through which employees construct meaning –despite what he called ‘the drudgery of repetitive work’: • The possibility of attachment to the workplace or the work • The possibility of engaging in social relations at work and caring for others • The feeling that the work is useful and a necessary part of a larger meaningful project • The feeling that the work accomplished is important to the well-being of other people • The possibility of learning and the pleasure of finding fulfilment in one’s work • The possibility of contributing to the development of work procedures and the improvement of working conditions • The experience of autonomy that gives a sense of freedom • A sense of responsibility and pride in one’s work.The organisational psychologist, Estelle Morin7, identifies six key categories of meaning in work whichhave emerged from studies since 1977. Her analysis reinforces the idea of consistent themes, whichaccording to her are:4 Kant, I. Lectures in Ethics. Trans. P. Heath, Cambridge University Press, p154.5 Terkel, S, Working: People Talk All Day About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. Pantheon, 1984; first published 1974.6 Isakson J, Constructing Meaning Despite the Drudgery of Repetitive Work, Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 40(3), 84-107, 2000.7 Morin, EM, The Meaning of Work in Modern Times, 10th World Congress on Human Resources Management, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August, 2004; (speech).Good Work And our Times 13
  • 15. meAninG And purpose • Social purpose – doing something which is useful to others • Moral correctness – the justifiability of work processes and results • Achievement-related pleasure – enjoying one’s job and developing one’s potential • Autonomy – the use of skills and judgement to solve problems and make decisions • Recognition – adequate salary and affirmation • Positive relationships – trust and interesting contacts.Especially at a time when unemployment is high and economic stability is fragile, some may say thatphilosophical reflection and in-depth study is unnecessary. The matter is very simple: it all comes downto pay. Certainly, at its most basic, people need to earn a living: work means they can pay the rent, buytheir food and to pay their way in the world. But while financial reward is intrinsic to the meaning of agood job and to the motivation to work, the evidence is that it goes hand-in-hand with other factors.The balance between different motivations has been well documented down the years. When a WorkFoundation study asked people if they found their work to be a means to an end, 51 per cent agreed– and, in the same survey, 69 per cent said their work was ‘a source of personal fulfilment’, and 78 percent that it was ‘stimulating and, or challenging’.8 There was a very strong resistance, 86 per cent, to thenotion that work was ‘meaningless’.This pattern has been echoed in international investigations of the meaning of work. A major studyof 15,000 workers from the US, UK, Japan, West Germany, Sweden and Israel found that, althoughdifferent social norms prevailed in different countries about the work ethic, the ‘economic rationale’ forwork was held in a similar balance.9 Just over half of the respondents identified financial reward as thepre-eminent motivator, while just under half favoured the expressive characteristics, including interest,friendship, identity and a chance to be useful. Asked about their ‘work goals’, all respondents put paytowards the bottom of their priorities, with opportunities to learn new things, interpersonal relationshipsand promotion at the top of the list. All this suggests that, for many people, pay is a necessary butinsufficient driver of fulfilment at work.In 1955, two sociologists, Nancy Morse and Robert Weiss, first asked the question, ‘If by chance youinherited enough money to live comfortably without working, do you think you would work anyway?’A total of eighty per cent answered, ‘Yes’.10 The question has been repeated by others in large scaleresearch exercises during the 1960s, ’70s and ‘80s, with similar results.11 It is not surprising then thatit is common for lottery winners to choose to carry on working. As Graham Forrest, the MD of a snuff-making company in Cumbria who won £2.7 million in 2009, saw it like this: I left school at 15 and went to the company as a trainee manager. I’ve worked my way up. I’ve given my life to it. There’s been some good times and bad times, so there’s no way I’ll be giving it up. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.12In practical terms, employees’ desire to find meaning in their work matters to employers because itis so closely associated with motivation – and motivation has a direct relationship to the commitmentand discretionary effort people are prepared to put in. The grandfather of organisational behaviour,Frederick Hertzberg, spent many years trying to pin down the fundamentals of employee motivationand performance, beyond the purely economic.13 His work focused on the differences between whathe called the ‘extrinsic’ characteristics of work such as pay and working conditions and the ‘intrinsic’aspects of jobs such as variety, challenge, discretion and autonomy from which employees draw most8 The Work Foundation, The Joy of Work, 2006.9 MOW International Research Team, The Meaning of Working. London: Academic Press, 1987.10 Morse, N. C. and Weiss, R. S,. The function and meaning of work and the job. American Sociological Review, 20(2), 191-19, 1955.11 Gini, A, My Job Myself: Work and the Creation of the Modern individual, Routledge, 2000.12 Snuff maker who won £2.7 million on the lottery will keep working, Daily Telegraph, 31 March, 2009.13 Herzberg, F, The Motivation to Work, New York: John Wiley and Sons 1959.14 Good Work And our Times
  • 16. meAninG And purposeof their satisfaction and motivation. Towards the end of his career, Hertzberg distilled his core messageinto an elegantly simple phrase: If you want someone to do a good job, give them a good job to do.14Businesses have an interest in knowing more about what motivates their employees to do a good jobfor them. The starting point is recognising that it goes beyond a simple response to financial incentives.Motivation is made up of a complex and moving mix of elements. As Professor Furnham says: People’s motivation and their needs change over their lifetime. I say to businessmen, ‘Would you rather have three thousand pounds worth of cash or a week of holiday?’ and they will say a week’s extra holiday. You say that to my students and they will say, ‘Three thousand pounds cash.’ 15In recognition of how personal priorities change, an increasing number of employers are offering flexiblebenefits packages. In some so-called ‘salary sacrifice schemes’ – in which employees can buy or sellannual leave – it is common to find that younger staff sell some of their leave entitlement to generatemore cash, while older workers sacrifice cash to buy more annual leave. Time, it seems, becomes amore valued commodity as people get older.Another example of how needs and values change over a lifetime was highlighted in research carriedout by The Work Foundation and the Future Foundation.16 The study found that both younger and olderemployees attached higher importance to the ‘ethical performance’ and social responsibility of theiremployers than those in middle age, whose primary concerns were about flexibility of working hours,rewards and employment security. For the younger and older age groups, the ethical issues were ofsufficient importance to influence their decisions about staying in or leaving the job. As Commissioner,Adam Crozier, recognises, priorities change at different stages of life: Adam Crozier, ITV People spend vast amounts of time at work and it’s a big part of their lives. And I think everybody wants that to mean something. But what it means is a very individual thing. For some people the meaning is, ‘I just work to get money’. For others it’s, ‘I’m doing something I believe in’. Or, ‘I’m doing something I love.’ Some want to be sociable; meeting and working with other people. And over a career, it’s often all of those things at various times. It used to be that people went to work somewhere and stayed there most of their working lives, but that’s less the case now. Now people go through stages more, and the meaning of work changes as the stages change. Someone might need to get a job right now because they need some money to tide them over, so others things matter less to them. Or, someone is looking for a career path ahead of them. People who are in their fifties might be preparing for semi-retirement and be looking at the type of work they would have never even considered in their thirties. So, as you go through life stages, your attitude and what your work means to you changes.14 Herzberg F, Workers’ Needs: The Same Around the World, Industry Week, 21 September 1987, p.30.15 (Accessed 24 August, 2010).16 Bevan S and Wilmott M, The Ethical Employee, The Work Foundation/The Future Foundation, 2002.Good Work And our Times 15
  • 17. meAninG And purposeAs an employer, it is important not to assume you know what your employees’ priorities are, but to takethe trouble to investigate. For instance, a study which looked at why women pharmacists in the NHSwere leaving work, found that managers clearly understood the motivations of their early years in work,but had assumed that when the women returned to work after having children, what they wanted waspart time work and ‘pin money’. The study uncovered that, in reality, what they wanted was to recapturemomentum in their careers – and it was this mismatch in understanding that was causing femalepharmacists to leave.17Similarly, research undertaken by Commissioner, Clare Chapman, illustrated how the assumption that istypical in so many large organisations, that what people are looking for is to move up through the levelsof the career structure, is not always accurate: Clare Chapman, National Health Service We did an interesting piece of work when I was in retail to understand more deeply what staff wanted from their work. It’s easy to assume that what you want from work is what everybody else wants. It was a sobering lesson to find that wasn’t true. There were large numbers of our staff who wanted participation and not promotion, and their expectations of the workplace were very different. If we carried on treating everyone as though they wanted promotion we ran the risk of completely missing the point in terms of what ‘good work’ looks like to them. We changed our practices quite a lot when we realised that, for a significant proportion of our staff, job enrichment was a far better motivator.People’s needs from work have changed in the course of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Thework of the American sociologist, Ronald Inglehart and the World Values Survey18 which he pioneered,shows how the priorities for citizens in countries which are in the process of industrialising are economicgrowth, security, and faith in the power of science and technology. But these are not the prioritiesof people in countries – like the UK – that have already reached a state of ‘post-industrialisation’. Inthese countries, ‘post-materialist priorities’ such as self-expression and the quality of life have becomeprogressively more pronounced in the culture as a whole. This, in turn, has a bearing on motives andperceptions of what constitutes rewarding work: There is also a gradual shift in what motivates people to work: the emphasis shifts from maximising one’s income and job security towards a growing insistence on interesting and meaningful work… [and] we find a growing emphasis on more collegial and participatory styles of management.These findings are echoed in research conducted at Harvard University by Howard Gardner and hiscolleagues, who talk about the concept of ‘flow’ being applied to work much as the notion of being ‘inthe zone’ is used by athletes. People in a state of ‘flow’ feel they are engaged in a creative unfolding ofsomething larger and meaningful. Some of us might recognise ‘flow’ experiences through those activitiesin which we become totally absorbed and which seem to make time stand still, whether at work, orinvolved in hobbies or service. This informs what Gardner and his team describe as ‘good work’:19 Doing good work feels good. Few things in life are as enjoyable as when we concentrate on a difficult task, using all our skills, knowing what has to be done. In flow, we feel totally involved, lost in a seemingly effortless performance. Paradoxically, we feel 100 per cent alive when we are so committed to the task in hand that we lose track of time, of our interests –17 Bevan S M, Buchan J and Hayday S, Women in hospital pharmacy, IMS Report 182, 1990.18 (Accessed 24 August 2010).19 Gardner, H, Csikszentmihalyi M, and Damon, W, Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet, Basic Books, 2001.16 Good Work And our Times
  • 18. meAninG And purpose even of our own existence. But it also happens surprisingly often at work – as long as the job provides clear goals, immediate feedback, and level of challenges matching our skills. When these conditions are present, we have a chance to experience work as ‘good’ – that is, something that allows full expression of what is best in us, something we experience as rewarding and enjoyable.This description clearly aims to express an almost transcendent relationship with work. There is nosuggestion that all workers in developed Western economies either reach, or aspire to, this higher planeof experience. Yet, Gardner’s study, the World Values Survey and other related investigations all point toa growing sense that these intrinsic and expressive characteristics are becoming an important part ofwhat a growing number of people are looking for from work in our society today.purpose And leAdershipUnderstanding then that people are seeking meaning in their work – on top of all the other things weexpect from leaders in modern organisations – should we now add the requirement that they providemeaning for their staff? The answer must be an unequivocal, ‘no’. Indeed, they cannot do so, becausemeaning is individual and subjective.However, leaders have a vital contribution to make. Leaders can animate the purpose of theorganisation. They set the context in which employees can build their own sense of meaning fromtheir work and help them to understand the part they play in that larger organisational purpose.Commissioner, John Varley, sees it as the responsibility of leaders to describe purpose and make itrelevant to their employees: John Varley, formerly Barclays Leaders have to convey business purpose, a sense of direction and a sense of vision. These things are different from ‘meaning’. Meaning is created from employees empathising with business purpose. By that I mean, if they deliver on purpose, employees feel their professional lives are meaningful. As the leader of an organisation it is unhelpful to define ‘meaning’ because meaning is personal for each individual employee. But what isn’t personal is the collective direction of the business, and its purpose as an organisation.Commissioner, Peter Sands, as Chief Executive of Standard Chartered, is another leading voice in thebanking sector who sees clarity of purpose as a central leadership responsibility. He sees it as essentialto the challenge of restoring trust which faces the financial sector today:Good Work And our Times 17
  • 19. meAninG And purpose Peter Sands, Standard Chartered Bankers must play our part in restoring trust in the financial system and in supporting the recovery in the real economy. This requires honesty and rigour in acknowledging what went wrong in the financial crisis; it requires a clear articulation of the essential role banks play in the economy; and it requires carefully prioritised actions by regulators and banks themselves. The onus, however, must be on banks to move swiftly to re-establish confidence and trust with all its stakeholders, but particularly its employees and customers. The banking industry has already taken some important steps in raising capital and tightening credit standards but more work is needed. At its most fundamental, this means continuing to build businesses that have a real sense of purpose, that can attract and engage talented people and that can support our clients and customers buy homes, start businesses and invest for the future.A recent study by The Work Foundation has explored in some depth, through over 250 interviews, howoutstanding leaders strive to communicate both vision and purpose.20 The research centred on whatleaders themselves believe leadership to be and how they practice it, with perspectives from both seniorleaders and their direct reports in six major companies, including Tesco, Unilever and Guardian MediaGroup. The effectiveness with which leaders helped to ‘bring meaning to life’ was identified as one of theimportant attributes which differentiated ‘outstanding’ leaders from those who were merely ‘good’: Outstanding leadership enables a strong and shared sense of purpose across the organisation as sustainable high performance comes from a shared determination to overcome challenges for the long-term benefit of stakeholders, staff, customers and society. Outstanding leaders tangibly demonstrate a sense of purpose in their work, bringing meaning to what they and others do. Contributions are connected to the organisational purpose, people are respected for what they offer and what they aspire to so that they feel purpose-full in their work. Outstanding leaders find an emotional connection for people; they focus on passion and on ethical purpose.In practice, the research found that many leaders recognise the power of conveying the purpose of theorganisation and are skilled in articulating it and where employees fit into it. As one leader put it: I always have the concept of a journey. To me, leadership is about engaging with people to work out how to take that journey; getting clarity around it and being able to articulate it clearly enough for people. Then engaging and motivating people to move the organisation on from where we are today. It’s trying to give people the reason; the catalyst to change what they’re doing today.Another highlighted the importance of personal authenticity in how the purpose is conveyed: Leadership is the ability to explain something and to engage and motivate people to participate in it. It is greatly helped by personal characteristics. So if you’re believable – if people perceive you to be honest and fair – your ability to engage and motivate people on that journey is helped.20 Tamkin P, Pearson G, Hirsh W and Constable S, Exceeding Expectation: the principles of outstanding leadership, The Work Foundation, 2010.18 Good Work And our Times
  • 20. meAninG And purposeIn their book, ‘Leaders: The strategies for taking charge’, leadership gurus, Bennis and Nanus, observed: Great leaders often inspire their followers to high levels of achievement by showing them their work contributes to worthwhile ends. It is an emotional appeal to some of the most fundamental human needs – the need to be important, to make a difference, to feel useful, to be part of a successful and worthwhile enterprise.21In high performing organisations, the ability of the leadership to offer clarity of purpose is often adifferentiating characteristic, as illustrated by The Work Foundation study on how firms succeed, calledCracking the Performance Code:22 High performing firms had unique organisational structures resulting from geography, size and history, which enabled continued success. They had a higher degree of informality and continuous dialogue supported by simple – though not simplistic – processes that allowed faster decision-making. They openly shared information between peers and networks of managers that needed timely and accurate information in order to get the best job done. They had visible and accessible leadership and management, combined with a clear articulation of business purpose and high expectations of those in decision making-roles.Yet while leaders play a vital role, effective organisations cannot be reliant on the ’heroic’ or charismaticqualities of an individual taking all the responsibility onto their shoulders for imparting purpose throughsheer force of personality. Recent studies shine a light on modern ‘distributed’ or ‘shared’ modelsin which leadership and influence is spread across teams. The work of Carson, Tesluk and Marroneemphasises the value of such models in the circumstances where the complexity of teams and thespeed of change requires rapid responsiveness from the front line of organisations.23 For instance,businesses in the aerospace sector are organised with ‘cells’ focused of different parts of the process.They are likely to be self-managing against clear parameters, in a system which is pushing leadershipdown and out to the smallest sensible unit. In retail, supermarket managers have overall responsibility forthe store, but section heads are expected to lead their teams directly. These ‘distributed’ models requirethe organisation to provide delegated authority which carries with it an expectation that those people willprovide leadership to their teams.Yet whatever the corporate model, leaders are employees – and people – too. And it is tough tocommunicate purpose to others with conviction when, maybe, it is not clear to you. A survey of 1,000business leaders, by Linda Holbeche of the Roffey Park Institute, showed that around two thirds of boarddirectors, senior managers, and over 70 per cent of middle managers, were themselves looking for agreater sense of meaning in their work. Her research identified a range of reasons for their questioningabout what it all adds up to, including specifics such as the experience of work itself, dissatisfaction withlong working hours, the prospect of longer working lives and uncertainty over pensions, right through tobroader ethical issues – such concerns about society becoming more materialistic and secular, high-profilecases of corporate corruption and global political instability. Some believe their organisation’s corporateresponsibility policies are a sham and that senior managers do not ‘walk the talk’ on values.Holbeche concluded that organisations where the sense of purpose and meaning are weak are likely tofind change is harder to manage, often as a result of employee cynicism. Where leaders experience alack of meaning at work, they also tend to report a lack of trust in the integrity of their organisation. Sheargues that the business case for supporting people’s desire for meaning is built on a simple premise:people who feel their work lacks meaning are more likely to leave their jobs – a conclusion supported bythe fact that 42 per cent of her respondents were looking for jobs at the time of the survey.2421 Bennis, W. and Nanus, B. Leaders: The strategies for taking charge. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.22 The Work Foundation, Cracking the Performance Code: How Firms Succeed, 2005. (Accessed 25 August, 2010).23 Carson, J. B., Tesluk, P. E., and Marrone, J. A. Shared leadership in teams: An investigation of antecedent conditions and performance. Academy of Management Journal, 50, 1217-1234, 2007.24 Holbeche L and Springett N, In Search of Meaning in the Workplace, Horsham: Roffey Park Institute, 2004.Good Work And our Times 19
  • 21. meAninG And purpose Commissioner perspective from Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London – on the sense of narrative in leadership I’m struck by the deficit in historical awareness in concepts of leadership. I think this is a general social problem and it’s a problem in business as well; not understanding the narrative. Leadership requires being clear about where we’ve come from and how we’ve moved over time, as well as providing a direction of travel. One of the general problems of the recent era has been leadership without that kind of narrative understanding. Summing it up simply: a leader with a sense of history and no sense of destiny is a very dull and uninspiring figure. A leader with a sense of destiny and no sense of history is an extremely dangerous and disruptive element in any culture. What I believe is that, if you have a rich memory, it is possible to respond to change with a sense of the extent of the choices you have. Whereas if you have an impoverished memory, you can only react to change from a surface understanding and from what is obvious to you. There’s all the difference in the world between responding to change out of a rich memory and reacting to change out of your impoverished understanding as a provincial person in space and time. Many people are only able to operate on the few glimpses, understandings, nostrums, that they have accumulated recently, but are not really capable of seeing the new signs of the times. So they just react, they are not able to respond to change in a creative way. Creative response is seeing opportunities that nobody else can see, because they’re not obvious to your contemporaries. If you want to build a sense of significance and meaning into your work and your organisation, it needs to respond to this need for narrative. The fact that that an organisation has that kind of intentional and conscious sense of where it has come from, of having had a story, means it’s in a good position to respond rather than react to change. It doesn’t become sclerotic like a dinosaur because it understands itself as a living organism, and that is an extraordinarily important ingredient in discerning what is genuinely new. Part of the puzzle we’re in today is what constitutes the rules of what we account for. How can we measure what is actually the impact of a business or how it’s operating? At the moment we’re only looking into historical costs, so we have a very flattened view of what constitutes profit. But now we’re coming to see, for example, that the ‘commons’ and our impact on them is not free. And therefore we need to evolve our accountancy rules to accommodate this impact on our common planetary home. As a matter of fact, we’ve reached a point where economics itself has to be married to concepts of human flourishing and wellbeing, which in its classical formulation we find extremely difficult to handle. One of the difficulties which we are facing right now is how to turn regulations, derived from unease about this whole area, into an ethos which actually informs the behaviour and the decisions of people in the boardroom. The whole issue is there in the question, what is ‘good work’? That imports an astonishingly challenging language into this world which, of course, largely goes by balance sheets.20 Good Work And our Times
  • 22. meAninG And purpose Commissioner perspective from Clare Chapman, National Health Service – on purpose and values shaping decisions One of the things that gives us an anchor in the Health Service is the NHS Constitution because that is where we laid out what the deal with the public is. It’s the expression of what the service means to the citizen and what it means for us as the professionals who deliver the service. It’s what gives people meaning and social purpose, rather than just statements of good intention. It seems to me that a constitution in this form helps to establish your democratic legitimacy in terms of delivering public purpose. The statement of purpose at the beginning of the Constitution is: ‘The NHS belongs to the people, it is there to improve our health and wellbeing, supporting us to keep mentally and physically well, to get better when we’re ill, and when we cannot fully recover, to stay as well as we can until the end of our lives. It works at the limits of science, bringing the highest levels of human knowledge and skill to save lives and improve health. It touches our lives at a time of basic human need, when care and compassion are what matters most.’ It’s only six statements but it captures such a strong sense of purpose that you can’t possibly say it without feeling it. We worked hard to make sure it expressed the voice of patients and the public and staff. As a consequence, it provides a tremendous compass in times of difficult choices about what is it that we’re here to do. During that process, I remember one particular workshop in the Midlands that felt very difficult and stilted. In the end, we said to the participants, ‘We don’t want you to talk intellectually about the values. We want you to talk about what matters to you.’ As soon as we said that, the conversations became much freer. So we wrote the values as a result of what people said was important to them. I learnt there is a way of connecting employees to purpose through the expression of the meaning. For me, a part of this equation that I learnt a lot about at Tesco was values. A lot of people think values are about social engineering, whereas the real point is that they inform what you choose to do. For example, when I joined Tesco from America, I said, ‘Why don’t you put impulse stands by every till because you’d sell a lot of sweets if you did that?’ They looked at me as though I was nuts and answered, ‘Because the customers don’t like that’. That was an example, for me, of what ‘Being first for customers’ meant. Based on your values, there are certain things which show up as red lights; situations where, if you didn’t have those values, you would make a different decision. So, for instance, one of the values in the NHS Constitution is ‘Everyone counts’. Therefore, when you’re working in a health economy and people have a significantly different life expectancy dependant either on their geography or background, we know we can’t rest – because that reality doesn’t represent our values. In my experience where I’ve had most impact is where I’ve been able to align a deep sense of purpose with purposeful action. It’s easy to be cynical about purpose because, in the day-to-day decisions you make in life, often things don’t feel that momentous. But it is the day-to-day decisions you make in life that add up to meaning.Good Work And our Times 21
  • 23. meAninG And purposeRecognising this sense of personal disassociation, including amongst the leadership of organisations,has never been more relevant than in the current climate. Commentator and Good Work Commissioner,Will Hutton argues25 that, since the collapse of the banks and the widespread rise in cynicism aboutthe motivations of financial institutions, the capability to cascade a broader sense of purpose from theleadership outwards throughout the organisation has become strategically important in all businesssectors: Clarity of business purpose will create clear values in turn. This is the route to trust in relationships between directors and staff, the company and its customers and supply chain. If companies have a clear idea of who and what they are everything becomes easier; who to recruit, investment priorities and which markets to target. It allows companies to align their brand, business model and purpose. It is the basis for any credible narrative for the investment and banking communities. Declared business purpose... ...Ambitions for market positioning – To help our customers connect to the – To provide world-class people and things that matter to them telecommunications and information (Telecommunications) products and services and develop and exploit our network at home and overseas – To build strong communities by creating – To become one of a handful of universal opportunities for people – including banks leading the global financial services customers, shareholders and associates – industry to fulfil their dreams (Bank) – Caring for the world, one person at a time – To become a diversified global healthcare (Pharma) leader The table above contrasts the declared business purpose of a telecom, a bank and a pharmaceutical company with an organisation in the same sector that declares a market ambition rather than its purpose for being. The purpose translates into a ‘strategy’ from which the company aims to be a profit-maximiser. This difference is important. Purpose declares what the business is about and what its capabilities need to be. It creates an animating framework for the pursuit of profit, rather than making profit the sole purpose of the company. Subtle – but important.The banking crisis was a powerful illustration that defining purpose in terms of financial reward aloneis not enough. Other goals, such as ensuring the business model is sustainable and operating withintegrity in relationships with stakeholders, were set aside. The purpose of some of the banks wasseen to be perverted towards serving their own narrow and short term self-interest – which, in the end,precipitated the longest and deepest recession since the 1930s. Interviewed by Prospect magazine inSeptember 2009, Adair Turner, summed it up: Some financial activities which proliferated over the last ten years were ‘socially useless’, and some parts of the system were swollen beyond their optimal size.2625 Hutton, W. Are we heading for a fairer workplace? The Work Foundation, 2010.26 Turner A, How to Tame Global Finance, Prospect Magazine, September 2009.22 Good Work And our Times
  • 24. meAninG And purposeTo quote Will Hutton again: There was a general downgrading of the pursuit of an identified businesses purpose as companies’ core business mission, and instead the over-riding business goal became the maximisation of short term profits in whatever way possible. Company boards were part bullied, part in thrall and part anxious to join the party by the demand, glamour and extravagant rewards offered by Big Finance.27To many, it was a failure not just of organisations but a failure of leadership. It exposed questions aboutthe basis on which the leaders of those organisations made decisions, what set of values informed themand in whose interest they were made. It raised doubts about what employees were being led to do and– given the resulting crisis – how that could possibly be considered ‘good work’? As Rob MacGregor,Unite’s National Officer for the financial sector, told the Scotsman: One of the things about bank workers is that they are incredibly loyal to the organisation they work for. But I don’t think you can overstate the damage this episode has done to their confidence in the company and their general morale. Words like betrayal are bandied about quite regularly. People are dismayed.28The sense of public unease has been compounded by other corporate crises, political scandals andmedia investigations, from BP’s crisis in the Gulf of Mexico to MPs’ expenses in Westminster or cash forquestions, apologies from the highest level of the Catholic Church and arrests of journalists for phonetapping. This period has led to a heightened sense that organisations, if unrestrained, may well actagainst the wider social interest and that many leaders have lost sight of their core purpose.This view has, to some extent, become pervasive in public consciousness. Research by Ipsos Mori,for example, has found that only 20 per cent of the public trust Chief Executives to tell the truth whentalking about their business, with 52 per cent feeling that corporate profits are too high.29 In addition, asurvey by the Institute for Business Ethics found that the proportion of 16 to 34 year olds who believethat companies generally behave ethically has fallen by 13 percentage points, from 64 per cent in 2008to 51 per cent in 2009. Over three quarters of respondents across all age groups were cynical thatcorporate behaviour will change, believing that most large companies will not be open and honest abouttheir activities unless they are forced to be.30Once dented, trust requires a lot of effort to rebuild. So this erosion of confidence in the good faith ofour leaders may be hard to restore. In the process of repair, authenticity will matter enormously – andthat must come from a renewed commitment to connecting people to ‘what we’re here to do’, ie: thecore purpose of the organisation in the broadest sense; its value to its customers, its employees and thewider community in which it operates – including, if it has them, its shareholders.Anne Mulcahy, who took over the leadership of Xerox in 2001, understands what it is to fight back from aposition of weakness to one of confidence. When she took over as CEO, the business had enormous debt,had posted five consecutive quarters of losses and had correspondingly low employee morale: When you’re a big company going through massive amounts of change, which we were, employees are kind of like volunteers. They have to want to perform, so your job is to make sure that they get it – they know what the story is, feel a part of it and want to make a contribution. That’s the magic that makes big companies work.3127 Hutton W, The Landscape of Tough Times, The Work Foundation, 2010.28 (accessed 6 September 2010).29 Simms, J, Will the public ever trust UK plc again?, Director Magazine, April 2010.30, (accessed 6 September, 2010).31 Pellet, J, Rebuilding trust in the CEO: how can business leaders revive stakeholder confidence?, Chief Executive Magazine, September 2009.Good Work And our Times 23
  • 25. meAninG And purposeOf course, the great majority of businesses and organisations are not touched by scandal and do notoperate in the public spotlight. However, there is a widespread mood of distrust and a readiness in thepublic to ascribe self-interested and unethical motives to today’s leaders – and most of ‘the public’ areemployees during the day, after all. So even in organisations where there is no direct challenge, theleadership is likely to find real value in re-asserting purpose, acting on their values and communicatingwith authenticity – at minimum to set themselves apart from prevailing preconceptions.Up to now, we’ve been focused largely on the commercial sector. But in the light of the growingemphasis on social value, what can we learn about the nature of what work means to people from thepublic and voluntary sectors? In much of the public sector, there is an implicit mandate from society:society wants children educated, criminals caught, hospitals run effectively and so on. So there is often acivic relevance to what people do, which also carries the symbolic power of working ‘for the public good’.Results from the British Social Attitudes Survey32 suggest that there is a ‘public service ethos’ whichenables employees to tap into a clear sense that what they are doing is worthwhile and meaningful inthe context of society. As the chart below shows, it makes them twice as likely as their private sectorcounterparts to say that they are doing a socially useful job which is very important to them.TAble 1 – imporTAnT ATTribuTes oF A job, privATe And publiC seCTor employees 2005 % say “very important” to them Private Public Difference sector sector – a job that is useful to society 15 32 +17 – a job that allows someone to help other people 18 27 +9 – a job that allows someone to work independently 15 22 +7 – an interesting job 46 53 +7 – job security 50 49 -1 – good opportunity for advancement 24 21 -3 – a job that allows someone to decide their times and days of work 14 11 -3 – high income 18 12 -6 Base 507 260Source: British Social Attitudes Survey, 2008Even private sector businesses which today deliver public services are beginning to evoke the ‘publicservice ethos’ to describe what they do and why they do it. Serco, for example, says that: We must recognise that, unlike customers for commercial enterprises, many users of public services have restricted choice over where and how they receive the services they require. This places a special responsibility on those who plan and deliver public services. We are therefore committed to solutions and services that genuinely meet the needs of service users while at the same time representing best value for the taxpayer.33In the charity sector, also, the connection to organisational purpose is easy for individuals to make.Therefore voluntary sector organisations are likely to be able satisfy the desire employees – and volunteers– have for their work to be meaningful in the broadest social sense. Typically, that is reinforced by the factthat they are working with people who share a commitment to that purpose; it is in some measure self-sustaining because that is why they joined, why they work hard and why they stay in the organisation.32 Park, A., Curtice, J., Thomson, K., Phillips, M., Johnson, M. and Clery, E. (eds.) 2008, British Social Attitudes: the 24th Report, London: Sage.33 (accessed 6 September 2010).24 Good Work And our Times
  • 26. meAninG And purposeThe CusTomer mAndATeWhile rallying behind a strong sense of meaning and social purpose is relatively straightforward in thevoluntary and public sectors, it can be more complex to express that in commercial organisations which haveto make a profit from their products and services. In the commercial arena, many businesses derive their‘mandate’ from the customer. For example, Terry Leahy, until recently Chief Executive of Tesco, has alwaysput customers at the centre of the Tesco narrative, as described in an interview with Management Today: We’ve worked very hard over the years to organise ourselves, from A to Z, so that we listen to customers,” says Leahy. Whether it’s the Clubcard loyalty scheme or focus groups in stores or letters to him, Leahy puts them first. He answers every customer letter he gets personally. “They really do matter. It’s their values we live by.34Leahy is not alone; many successful business leaders express the core purpose of the organisationin terms of what they do for the customer. It is a theme which has resonance for all the Good WorkCommissioners and John Varley expresses it this way: John Varley, formerly Barclays How leaders behave (including how they spend their time) sends a powerful signal about what they regard as important. And in this context the key question is: are leaders in touch with customers? In big organisations, the more senior you get, the more remote you can become from those who you are in business to serve. It can easily happen. You become a prisoner of other priorities – your earnings statement; your interface with the media; your discussion with your executive committee or your board. These are all important stakeholders, but you have to ensure that there is visibility of the business purpose. And in a service organisation, that business purpose is absolutely clear: it’s helping customers achieve their goals. There is nothing more important. If as a leader you’re seen to be so grand, or so busy, that you haven’t time either for the customers themselves, or for those who serve customers, then quickly the credibility of business purpose – in any event the business purpose articulated by you – breaks down. And that has dire consequences for the meaning of the enterprise.Psychologists have found that when employees have a clear line of sight between their efforts and thevalue to the customer, they feel it gives their task significance and makes their job worthwhile. Andresearch into a number of service sector organisations provides evidence that employees devote moreenergy to delivering high quality customer service if they are truly convinced that the organisation isgenuinely committed to customer service.35 Call centres, for instance, have sometimes been referredto as the ‘sweat shops of the 21st century’ for their formula of relentlessly pushing staff to handle a setnumber of calls in a set number of minutes, regardless of the outcome. It delivers low customer service,low employee commitment and an endless round of repeat calls. Yet, First Direct has topped the chartsin customer satisfaction surveys by a large margin for 10 years by turning that model upside down.They focus their employees on resolution of queries, which both makes the work more satisfying for theemployee and satisfactory for the caller. Increasingly, the industry is following suit.Some business cultures consciously empower employees to use their discretion to provide outstandingcustomer service and a personal touch – for instance, the hospitality industry giving restaurant staff the34 (accessed 6 September 2010).35 Renn, R. W. and Vandenberg, R. J. The Critical Psychological States: An Underrepresented Component in Job Characteristics Model Research. Journal of Management, 21, 279-303, 1995; Johns, G., Xie, J. L., and Fang, Y. Mediating and moderating effects in job design. Journal of Management, 18, 657-676, 1992.Good Work And our Times 25
  • 27. meAninG And purposefreedom to respond to complaints with the offer of a free meal. This visibly reinforces the link betweenthe employee and good service to the customers as pivotal to the success of the organisation, while atthe same time giving the employee the opportunity to act autonomously and the feeling that they aretrusted – which, as we have seen, are significant characteristics of ‘good work’.It can be argued that, following an era dominated by the power of labour and the unions, followed byan era driven by the power of capital and shareholder interests, today customers are the rising power.Already there are signs that consumers are actively prepared to use their purchasing power. A WorkFoundation report on corporate responsibility found that 18% of customers had boycotted productson ethical grounds, and 21 per cent said they had chosen to buy from certain companies on similargrounds. The report showed that consumers are increasingly likely to say that they feel their actions canaffect corporate behaviour – so the trend is likely to intensify.36At one end of the retail market, consumers are increasingly looking for novelty, quality, customisationand emotional content, and are prepared to pay accordingly.37 But at the other end of the market, theyare relentlessly trading down; buying basic ‘value’ goods so long as they are cheap and standardised.Increasingly, firms are having to understand the tastes and behaviours of their particular consumers.And improving customer value can drive business while simultaneously becoming a route to improvingemployees’ faith in the organisation and its leadership.Meanwhile, the rise in women’s participation in the labour market has led to fewer households beingable to access services during normal hours, ie: 9-5, which influences the growth in services deliveredoutside the traditional working week. Added to all this, it is clear that consumers are becoming moredemanding and less loyal.38 The media and the internet make it easy for individuals to investigate andswitch to alternative options, and the more technically savvy, in particular, are taking advantage of that.So organisations are finding they need to work much harder to demonstrate to individuals that they are theright choice. For example, supermarkets, such as Sainsbury’s, are now opening longer hours, diversifyingtheir products and finding out more about their customers through loyalty schemes. Banks, such asFirst Direct, are offering online, call centre and face-to-face facilities outside traditional banking hoursas a source of differentiation and competitive advantage. Clothing retailers, such as Zara, are changingtheir stock every few weeks to offer new reasons for customers to return. Travel agents and hotels areincreasingly allowing individual consumers to tailor holidays online to meet their exact requirements.All this has a direct impact on the world of work. It alters routes and speed to market, cost and revenuemodels. It affects working patterns and the types of flexible arrangements put in place. It changes thedeployment of people and skills. It requires employees to ‘connect’ with customers in different ways.Where they feel empowered, skilled up and supported to use their initiative and their imagination to riseto that challenge, they will also be more likely to invest the task with significance, connect to the purposeof the organisation and build a sense of meaning in their work.oWnershipThe past 20 years or so have seen the development of a variety of share ownership and profit shareschemes designed to attach people to the purpose and goals of the organisations they work in. InBritain around 20 per cent of workplaces utilise some form of share ownership, covering over 30 percent of people in employment. Such schemes grew along with the rise of the capital markets and abelief that giving people a financial stake in the business provides a sense of belonging that will translateinto behaviour.39 They also represent participation in the enterprise, which works positively as long as thecompany’s fortunes – and share price – are on the rise.36 Bevan S M, Isles N, Emery P and Hoskins T, Achieving High Performance – CSR at the Heart of Business. London: The Work Foundation/The Virtuous Circle, 2004.37 Silverstein M J and Butman J, Treasure Hunt: Inside the Mind of the New Consumer, New York, 2006.38 Omwando, H. Symbiotic Loyalty: The Next-Generation Consumer Loyalty Strategy: Forrester, 2004.39 Kersley, B. et al, Inside the workplace: Findings from the 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey, London, Routledge, 2006.26 Good Work And our Times
  • 28. meAninG And purposeHowever, a study carried out for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) showed thatrewards from share ownership or profit related pay schemes were largely regarded by staff as windfalls;nice to have as part of the package but not central to their long term relationship with the workplace.40There was some evidence that they affect retention because people are concerned about losing out, butthey do not act as an incentive in the classic sense of influencing behaviour. ‘A Share of the Spoils’, fromthe Institute of Employment Studies, cited Shell as an example of a company where share options goingunderwater had a disproportionately demotivating effect on people, compared to any positive impactthat could have been achieved by holding shares which appreciated in value.41It is clear that financial participation alone fails to win people’s loyalty, because essentially it is atransactional model. However, overlaid with other forms of participation, it can help to instil a greatersense of involvement and engagement. Asda, for example, has a share ownership plan which, in 2008,paid nearly £38 million to 17,000 employees and it is implemented as part of a wider set of participativeprocesses which give employees a voice in how their job is performed, from workflow design through toemployee councils.42So to be successful, linking employees to purpose has to go beyond financial participation to the waythe business is managed. The John Lewis Partnership is a much cited example of a shared ownershipmodel which clearly supports a high degree involvement and has generated consistently strongperformance.43 However, precisely because the structure was set in the constitution from the outset, it ishard to emulate.More recently, there has been a recognition of the degree to which senior managers of public companiesare themselves beholden to the timeframes and priorities of the capital markets, and unable to set theagenda. The power of institutional shareholders has grown, with institutions owning 70 per cent of UKshares today, compared to just 25 per cent in the 1960s.44 There is a natural tendency for companymanagements to frame their goals predominantly in the context of shareholder expectations. Achallenge today’s leaders face is how to transcend those short term pressures on their corporations,and on them as individuals, and find credible ways to set out a purpose and sustainable long term visionfor their businesses which have resonance across wider society.This concern about the role of companies pre-dates the financial crisis but has been highlighted since. Therehas been live debate about ‘good capitalism’ versus ‘bad capitalism’. The issue is not whether the developedeconomies will continue to operate within a capitalist model but, rather, how to make that model work better,delivering social value as well as economic value. A new language is beginning to be heard from a numberof business leaders. Paul Polman, Chief Executive of Unilever, for instance, recently set bold aspirations for anew sustainable model of growth for the business. His view is that ‘we are coming out of the financial crisisinto ‘a new normal’ created by tremendous pressure on the resources of the earth’: Too many investors have become short-term gamblers: the more fluctuations in share price they can engineer, the better it is for them. It is not good for the companies or for society, but it is influencing the way firms are being run, all the same… To drag the world back to sanity, we need to know why we are here. The answer is: for consumers, not shareholders. If we are in synch with consumer needs and the environment in which we operate, and take responsibility for society as well as for our employees, then the shareholder will also be rewarded.45Jeffrey Swartz, CEO of Timberland, is another business leader who has stepped into a leadership positionthrough his commitment to improving the environmental footprint and social value of his business:40 Williams M, How does the workplace affect quality of employment?, Employment Relations Occasional Paper, Department of Business Innovation and Skills, November 2009.41 Reilly P A, Cummings, J and Bevan S M, A Share of the Spoils: Employee Financial Participation, IES Report 373, 2001.42 (accessed 8 May 2011).43 Cox, P, Spedan’s Partnership: The Story of John Lewis and Waitrose, Labatie Books, 2010.44 S Davis et al, The New Capitalists, Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2006.45 Management Today, Andre Saunders, 1.3.2011.Good Work And our Times 27
  • 29. meAninG And purpose Commissioner perspective from Andy Bond, formerly Asda– on establishing a sense of mutuality In terms of ‘good work’, I strongly believe there has to be a sense of mutuality. In the 16 years I worked at Asda, one of the things I’ve learnt is how the business has a distinctive model for how it treats its employees, which expresses itself through their involvement in equity and their involvement in decision making. A long time ago now Asda provided everyone with free shares; it was one of the first ever share ownership schemes. I think it means people are genuinely more interested in the economic outcome of their work. And it goes beyond equity ownership; every single colleague has, by their own standards, a reasonable cash bonus opportunity. Of course, you have to make sure you design the scheme appropriately for what you’re trying to get people to focus on. One of the first ‘watch outs’ is to not make it too individual. And, for example, if you want to drive long term business development, don’t make it based on this year’s profit alone. In my experience, those two things together – the equity ownership and the bonus – really do provide everyone with a real alignment to what we’re trying to achieve economically. They drive common purpose around performance. The business also has a clear philosophy about engaging people in the decision making. It employs a lot of people in a dispersed work environment; there are 165,000 people working in 377 Asda stores across the country. So it’s a business that requires real thought about how to design work that’s appropriate for the people who are doing that work. A specific example of that in action is how people on the front line in the stores have real involvement in designing their work for themselves: that’s as broad as the way shelves are filled, to the way bread is baked in stores, to the way items are scanned through the till. In a company where you spend several billions of pounds on your costs, you might argue that the best thing to do is to not allow any discretion. Yet the whole philosophy of the business is not like that; the aim is to enable the people who are doing the jobs to design their workplace environment, as much as possible. People in the business are also given the chance to input into the strategic direction of the company, more generally. There is what’s called a Colleague Circle, with representatives of the workforce from each store, which then cascades up into a National Colleague Circle – and four times a year they sit down with the senior leadership to discuss the strategic issues of the company. A lot of people, I think, want to drive a clear differentiation between those who are the equity holders and those who are the providers of labour. My point is that there’s a much stronger mutuality between the two than there is differentiation between the two.28 Good Work And our Times
  • 30. meAninG And purpose We operate our business around the notion that commerce and justice don’t have to be anti- pathetical notions. We think we can make high quality products, we think we can delight our shareholders, we can make consumers, think, ‘This is really great’. We can create a context where people respond they are proud to come to work and feel dignified in the work we do.46Accenture’s study on sustainability, ‘Can business do well by doing good?’, reports a significant shift inthe mindset of CEOs with the vast majority now believing that sustainability issues should be embeddedin the core business; 96 per cent, up from 72 per cent in 2007. Three quarters of CEOs though citebrand, trust and reputation as the primary motivator for taking action on sustainability issues. Yet that,in itself, can be read as an indicator of the level of concern about stakeholder perception in its broadestsense, and may explain why many of the leading voices in this area come from consumer facingcompanies. As the Accenture report states, ‘Central to this transition to a new era is a paradigm shift inthe concept of value and corporate valuation.’It is possible that the rising concern about a company’s responsibilities to a broader group ofstakeholders may result in legislation that requires public companies to publish an Operating andFinancial Review. If so, it will change corporate practice as businesses take on the obligation to reporton a great deal more than financial results, potentially ranging from employee well being, to customerand community value, and environmental impact. That, in turn, will have direct implications for whatleaders are seen to be accountable for and how much information employees have access to about thecorporate behaviour of the business they work for.One of the modern challenges of creating an organisational culture which seeks to offer ‘good work’ isthat there are many forms of non-core or flexible staffing arrangements which blur the boundaries of afirm. In 1984, in ‘The Flexible Firm’, John Atkinson forecast that in the future many organisations wouldbe made up of a core group of trained staff, working alongside a multiplicity of people with specialistskills on flexible or casual contracts. This would allow businesses to flex their numbers and capabilitieswithout threatening the job security of the core.47In that scenario, though, with labour for hire on a temporary basis, is it possible for people to findmeaning in their work and their relationship with their employer? In the world of free lancers andconsultants, it is. Meaning and personal identity is shaped by their expertise being evidently relevant totheir clients and, whether as gardeners, accountants or graphic designers, their work is an expressionof their worth and each contract reinforces that their skill set is valued. Similarly, in small skill-basedfirms, it is possible to trace value up the chain in terms of the contribution they make to their larger clientorganisations, whether that takes the form of a new technology introduced by a start up company to aglobal engineering business, or a new product strategy devised by a management consultancy for aninsurance company.That principle applies also to the growing trend of outsourcing. A business that earns its revenues bytaking on the IT or HR processes of another company, in order to enable that client organisation tofocus on its core operations is, by definition, offering something meaningful in its expertise. Its corporatepurpose and values are built around its core skill-set and how it adds value to the endeavours of others,as much as its clients’ are.This extension of purpose and shared values beyond the boundaries of a single business can be seenclearly in the way in which large organisations are using their purchasing power to set expectations ofthe companies which supply them. For instance, a basic requirement of being a supplier to Boeing isthat you make a significant investment in the skills of your workforce.48 Marks and Spencer set out itscommitment to improving its environmental impact, in a strategy which it called Plan A – and has earnedcredibility by driving those standards not only through its own business but into its supply chain. In the46 Jeffrey Swartz on video interview series, Corporate Executives on Sustainability, Ceres Channel.47 Atkinson J. Flexibility: Planning for a uncertain future, Manpower policy and practice, (Vol. 1), 1985.48 Thompson, M The UK Aerospace People Management Audit 2000, Department of Trade and Industry and Society of British Aerospace Companies. London, 2000.Good Work And our Times 29
  • 31. meAninG And purposepublic sector, sub-contractors on some major projects must be accredited by Investors in People asa quality mark of their HR practices. These are examples of how an organisation can transfer sociallyexpressed values and even affect certain aspects of ‘good work’ through workforces that are peripheralto its own operations and direct employee base.job desiGn As A meChAnism To supporT meAninG And purposeEmployers have the scope to design – and re-design – jobs which augment an employees’ ability todeliver improved performance for the organisation, while deriving more enjoyment from it themselves.In general, this is an under-utilised opportunity. The key is to add to the traditional methodology of acomprehensive job description with an imaginative sense of an individual’s talents and the empathy tosee the organisation – and the job – from their perspective.To take an example at the top of organisations: these days it is understood that the scope of the roleand responsibilities of a senior executive is, in many ways, simply too big and unmanageable for anysingle person. Therefore, it is not uncommon for an executive stepping into a new role to supplementhis or her capabilities with a team which is designed to complement their individual strengths in a waythat can cover the entire task effectively. That may involve creating new posts and even reaching outsidethe organisation to find the right talents and skill sets to do that. It requires an analysis of the individuals’strengths and weaknesses, and how they map against the job in hand, rather than putting the personinto the straight-jacket of a job description and assuming they fit and fill the requirement exactly.Some particularly entrepreneurial, and successful, businesses are committed to backing the talent ratherthan the role; Google, for example. Such organisations are prepared to invert the received wisdom ofdesigning a job description and fitting someone into the role. They recruit an exceptional talent, in anyrelevant field, with no specific job in mind and then work out what to do with it. And they aim to supportthat individual with the talents and capabilities of others, who together can deliver a project of value tothe organisation.An organisational application of the same concept can be seen in how Telstra responded to thechallenge of adapting to a new complex integrated, customised billing system. The rarified technicalskills to achieve the task were held in a very small number of people in the organisation, about fifteenin total. The crucial decisions they made were to bring those people together as a dedicated group,not to dilute their capability with any extraneous tasks – and then to wrap around that talent thecomplementary capabilities required, such as customer management and marketing.Establishing temporary cross-functional teams to stimulate innovation and new perspectives on aproblem is a well-established mechanism. It can be used to develop new products or services, to re-engineer processes or find novel solutions to problems. It breaks down silos and increases knowledge-transfer between teams. The benefits to the organisation are clear.What is less often considered is its power to contribute to job enrichment and a good experienceof work. The evidence is the individuals find it stimulating and rewarding to take part in such events.Intrinsically, it is an opportunity for creativity. At a personal level, it can be a developmental experience,where expertise can be tested and stretched. Employees get to see where their roles fit into the biggerpicture and to make a contribution to a project which matters to the organisation. Indeed, in developinghigh potential talent and seeking out people who might be fast-tracked through the organisation, BPlooks at successful participation in cross-functional project teams as an indicator that someone has thecapability to move beyond their current role.49A report by Polly Kettley and Wendy Hirsh on cross-functional teams highlighted the important roleline managers play in making the experience productive. It has been established that an individual ismore likely to draw real benefit from such an opportunity if their manager makes it explicit at the outset49 Hirsh W and Jackson C, Managing Careers in Large Organisations, The Work Foundation, London, 2004.30 Good Work And our Times
  • 32. meAninG And purposewhy they have been selected and what the personal value could be to them – and if given the chanceafterwards to explore what they have gained from it so they can use the learning effectively in their job.50To achieve that kind of job enrichment, however, requires managers to distinguish between situationswhere the people attending are representatives of a function and those where people have beenselected for their potential to make a personal contribution. Both have their place, but they operatedifferently and produce different outcomes. A formal committee structure, for example, may reviewor make decisions, but is not constituted to produce new thinking. Therefore, from an organisationalpoint of view, leaders need to know that if they want to stimulate innovation, they may well need to stepoutside established structures, give the participants the license to innovate and support the personalopportunity that represents for those the people involved.A different technique for making the most of the talent available in an organisation is deliberately toestablish a creative tension within teams by designing overlapping roles on a project. This technique setsup the necessity for interaction and a constructive sense of ‘struggle’ about how best to achieve the endresult for the customer or the project. The goal is not to set personalities against each other. Rather, theintention is to identify a dynamic mix of complementary skills and talents, with inter-locking roles, whichrequires the team as a whole to design the solution themselves.It is this interaction across functional boundaries which has often proven to be the catalyst to freshways of tackling problems, innovation and improved productivity – as well as a sense of ownershipand fulfilment for the individuals involved. Setting up a new Child Support Agency in New Zealand, forexample, required staff to be brought together from the very different disciplines of social welfare andthe inland revenue. Instead of designing entirely new jobs and retraining the existing workforce to fit thestructure, the approach was to establish cross-disciplinary teams who were required to work creativelytogether to develop the protocols and assessment processes for the new organisation, around a cycleof continuous improvement.These examples all speak of using an individual’s personal qualities to the mutual benefit of employeeand employer. But what about people whose job is by nature repetitive and therefore boring? The GoodWork Commissioners were unified in their view that, in these circumstances, employers can make asignificant contribution by helping employees see how what they do fits into the greater scheme ofthings, into the overall purpose of the organisation. Connecting people to the roles that sit either side ofthem in the workflow helps people to make sense of their own part of the process. Giving employeesvisibility of what matters to the end customer gives them a sense that their own task has significance.Enabling employees to check and, or, comment on how to improve the effectiveness of a process theyare involved in is very empowering, as well as potentially adding significant value to the organisation.A straightforward example comes from a financial services firm and its response to the job of chasingthe payment of invoices – a common role in many organisations, which is generally measured byoutstanding debt levels. In this instance, by being given the opportunity to understand the end-to-endprocess, employees were able to spot that the hold up in the system was, in fact, the original scopingof the work by the advisors, rather than how proactive the accounts team were in chasing the invoicewhich went out.All this is relatively simple to do, and cheap, yet few organisations do it in a conscious and systematicway. It improves camaraderie and collaboration around a sense of shared purpose. For the employer,the benefit is the whole process working in an integrated way to solve the problem. For the employee,it proves very liberating to see their role as a small part in the context of the whole. It helps to makewhat may be thought of as ‘bad jobs’ into better jobs, and improves the overall work culture of theorganisation. Commissioner, Peter Housden, set an ambitious aspiration for his staff of having nopoor jobs:50 Kettley P and Hirsh W, Learning from Cross-functional Teamwork, Institute for Employment Studies, Brighton, 2001.Good Work And our Times 31
  • 33. meAninG And purpose Peter Housden, Scottish Government It’s important in organisation design to say, ‘We’re not going to have any poor jobs here. Every job here will give the person in it the chance to shine and grow and develop.’ In too many work contexts not much thought is given to the actual flow of work and what it feels like at the bottom of the hierarchy. This may be less prevalent in, say a call centre environment where a huge amount of attention goes into the front end of the business which talks to customers. But in bureaucracies, there is a tendency for the interesting work to rise to the top relentlessly, and some rather dull occupations with very little sense of control or creativity to emerge lower down. In the Communities Department, we had as one of our four organisational values that we would give everybody the chance to shine. People really picked up on the notion and spoke powerfully about their sense that opportunities at work are inequitably distributed. So in any workgroup there will be some people who get the opportunities to do presentations, to go to a meeting with the Minister or whatever, and in general get to do the interesting work. And there will be others who do not. Sometimes that can be neglect, sometimes it can be unconscious prejudice. But the elevation of the idea that we would give everyone a chance to shine not only flushed out those concerns, but developed the narrative and got senior people thinking more explicitly about how they were going to deliver for their people. It matters because people want to see work as a place where they can grow and develop, rather than just mark time and earn a wage.Once again it comes back to connecting people to purpose. The role may be low status or low skilledcompared to others in the organisation, but the job needs to be done – or it would not be there. Theonus is on the leadership to help make that connection clear. Indeed, it could be argued that the acidtest of whether an organisation is providing good work is whether it is capable of doing so universally.The challenge is to reach those who will find it hardest to imbue their work with meaning.Finally on this theme, it is worth remembering that what makes a dull job more bearable for peopleis often the social interaction. Commissioner, Andy Bond is conscious that a large proportion of his165,000 strong workforce are in exactly this category of job, where social and community relationshipsare a significant part of the value of work: Andy Bond, formerly Asda Most of Asda’s employees are working on a relatively low wage; it’s above the national minimum but it would be wrong to call it anything other than a relatively low wage. Yet, for a lot of people at work, meaning is something much more than just money. If you were to go to the average Asda store, you would see a group of people who may have worked at that store for 10-15 years, being together for 30 hours a week, and they’ve become immensely close as a community. And when people are asked what makes them happy at work – and this is done in a very systemic way – by far the most common answer is ‘because I work with my friends’. It is a sense of social purpose and a sense of community within work that means something to people.32 Good Work And our Times
  • 34. meAninG And purposeThe contribution employers can make is to maximise that aspect of the workplace and offer employeesas much control as possible over it. For instance, it is often to reinforce inter-personal relationshipsthe supermarkets will brief teams together, rather than individually, and give employees the chance tointerview new team members. The company will emphasise collective activities, such as charity eventsor family days, to reinforce the social ties which build up in the workplace. The management of thesesmall details of the working day goes back to the original premise of this chapter that people valueworking with and for the other people on a team, and find the social relationships at work meaningful.What these examples all have in common is that they enhance the characteristics of ‘good work’:consciously designing jobs to maximise the chance for employees to exercise some autonomy anddiscretion, to use their skills and imagination; to apply their personal qualities to add value to theenterprise; to work constructively in a community with others; to see how they contribute to the largerpurpose and be recognised for it. The principles apply whether that is in establishing new roles tosupplement the capabilities of leaders at the top of the organisation, or shaping teams which mix skillscreatively to encourage innovation, or designing workflows to enable employees at the lowest skill andwage levels to see how their tasks fit into the whole and contribute to the customer. They are instances ofa modern model emerging in which employers work with their employees to co-create value to serve thepurpose of the organisation, while enabling employees to satisfy their desire for good and rewarding summAryThe desire to find work meaningful is deep in human nature – and has become part of the strategiclandscape of the modern employment relationship. More than before, people are looking for morethan a job; they are seeking meaning from the work they do. Our argument is that this principleapplies universally; it applies in the private and public sector, to the highest fliers and the lowest paid,the high skilled and the low skilled, senior leaders and front line staff, and to the huge percentage ofthe workforce in between. While it is not in the gift of employers simply to provide meaning for theiremployees, they can actively create the environment which enables people to attach meaning to theiremployment.In practical terms, this suggests that:For employers, there is value in understanding the complex mix of elements which make up meaning fortheir workforce. It is not static – it changes for different communities and at different stages in a person’sworking life – so the dynamics need to be explored, rather than assumed. • Leaders play a vital role in communicating the purpose of the organisation and connecting employees to their part in it. And while financial goals may well be intrinsic, they are not sufficient as a definition of purpose. To be sustainable, purpose needs to be understood to encompass customer and social value as well – and this is particularly important at a time when employees and the general public are, in general, cynical about the motivations of organisations and sceptical about the authenticity of leaders. • Enabling employees to participate in the direction and success of the organisation is a powerful contributor to creating ‘good work’. However, financial participation – whether in the form of share ownership or bonuses – has been shown to be effective only when it is embedded in a management culture which encourages the voice of employees to be heard on matters which affect their working lives.Good Work And our Times 33
  • 35. meAninG And purpose • Job design is a powerful – but often under-utilised – mechanism through which employers can both make the work more rewarding for the organisation and employees. The combination of focusing on the individual qualities and capabilities of employees, and charging them with delivering value to the organisation, can provide a fresh way of tapping into the best of what people have to offer. The challenge and the opportunity is to apply that approach throughout the organisation, including with employees who work at lowest level jobs, through designing workflows that enable everyone to see their part in the whole enterprise.The premise of this chapter is that it is hard to imagine good work that is meaningless. That insightoffers a perspective through which employers can align employees to the purpose of the organisationand engage their best efforts to create value, in a manner which also satisfies their desire for good andmeaningful work.34 Good Work And our Times
  • 36. meAninG And purpose Commissioner perspectives on meaning and purpose Jim McAuslan, BALPA If you paint a picture of the things that get people out of bed in the morning and coming to work with a good heart, I think it is believing in what they’re doing. And it’s believing that they’re appreciated; being thanked. Everything else comes from that. Having a belief in what you’re doing, I think, is a hunger in people’s soul – I would put it as strongly as that. In the research we did about 10 years ago in the civil service with our women members about what their work meant to them, the points that came up were people wanting to have pride in their work – to be a citizen in society, to leave the home and put on a different set of clothes in the day, to feel that they were someone in their own right rather than an extension of a family. It was community – and even if the work was routine, you put up with the routine because it gave you community. That’s why they wanted to come to work. They were not carrying huge complaints about pay differentials but they wanted to be respected, to be valued, to have their opinions listened to. It returns to the theme of respect and affirmation. That isn’t to say that pay or pay inequality aren’t issues, but even with a perfect pay system, work will be soulless without pride, purpose, community and affirmation. That’s where we have a challenge. Tracy Clarke, Standard Chartered Operating in some of the poorest countries in the world, or some of the most politically unstable or the most war-torn countries of the world, the people we employ have always looked to their organisations for a sense of meaning. They ask, ‘What’s the sense of purpose in this company that I’m working for? As an international business, is it genuinely interested in the social good and economic growth of this country? Is it making a difference? And what can I do as an individual to contribute to that, because I really do want to make a better life for me and my family and friends?’ In the developed economies, I think, we’ve lost sight of that somewhat – but the financial crisis, globalisation and access to information, all of those factors have brought it back to the fore again. And I think there’s probably something to learn from companies that have grown up in these difficult places. Leaders play a crucial part in instilling that sense of purpose – and, I think it is what can differentiate a firm in terms of its ability to attract and retain talent in the future. If I’m being hard-nosed about it, there are important commercial reasons. Then in the broader, more philosophical sense, in the world we live in today, it’s the right thing to do. It’s the key to countering the profit motive entirely over-riding what the organisation is there to do for its customers and its wider community.Good Work And our Times 35
  • 37. meAninG And purpose Richard Chartres, Bishop of London Work is, for so many people, the major way of establishing an identity, getting a sense of worth and deriving a sense of meaning from their lives. Recognition is hugely important and it’s what makes the difference between ‘work’, which is very good, and ‘toil’ which is extremely bad and very demoralising. There is a clear contrast between work which is meaningful and nourishing and toil which is deadening. And we need more celebration of what ‘work’ means to us. Of course, pay and rations has an impact – especially when it’s evidently unfair. But recognition is an absolutely vital element as well, because it gives people a sense that they are valued. Work carries a very heavy freight in terms of people’s identity and their ability to express themselves creatively. John Hannett, Usdaw I think people want to feel that the employer genuinely appreciates them, that there’s a relationship with their line manager, and that their commitment is valued. Our union has to recruit 70,000 members a year to stand still, which reflects the number of people who leave the retail sector in the first 12 months after they join. We’ve done our own research about why that is, which obviously helps us as a union and helps the companies as well. We found that pay wasn’t top of the list of why people leave, by any means. It’s often about the relationships on a day to day basis and whether they feel valued. They mentioned things like not getting their uniform on time, the manager not spending time talking to them, or very little training. They want the employer to see flexibility as a two- way approach, for the benefit of both the employer and employee, because as employees they have to balance their social responsibilities with their work responsibilities. When people left, it was because they felt that they were a number, a cog in a wheel, but not really a part of it. John Varley, formerly Barclays The employment contract is a framework for a particular aspect of the employee’s professional life, but it’s nothing more than that. As a source of motivation, the formal contract is anaemic. The source of motivation typically springs from employees believing that what they do is worthwhile. That’s not just altruism. Employees hope to benefit themselves as individuals, by helping others through their work, not hard contractual benefits, but self-esteem and employability. People want to see themselves as effective in helping their organisation – whether that’s an organisation of five people or fifty thousand people. The common denominator is that their work should have a beneficial impact on the lives of others. That instinct to help is part of the human condition, and it’s fundamental to employees feeling that their work has meaning and that they’re engaged in ‘good work’.36 Good Work And our Times
  • 38. meAninG And purpose Andy Bond, formerly Asda High performance work and purposeful work go together. So if we set out our purpose as a business and we achieve that, then people will feel good about it and feel that is valuable work. And the corollary is true. If you’re in a low performing business, over time, you can’t possibly imagine you’re doing ‘good work’. We’re in an open enough social culture these days – the media reports on things, your local community comments on things – that if you’re in a company that’s not performing you can’t feel you’re doing valued work, in the long term, because you know it is poor work. But, along with that, you’ve got to have an understanding of the unintended consequences of having a too one-dimensional approach to anything. It’s got to be a balanced scorecard. The obvious example these days is the banking sector. You could argue they did excellent work for a period of time, but it was very one dimensional; too one-dimensional. So ‘good work’ is a combination of achieving the purpose that you and your co-workers have set out to achieve and – it’s a big bold AND – you have made a net contribution to your community. Kim Winser, Agent Provocateur and 3i I’m a great believer that people want to feel worthy; they like to feel they’re making a contribution. When I was at Pringle which was a small business, or Marks and Spencers which was a big business, that was most definitely a common theme. One of the key facts that we identified, as a Commission, is that the number of people who feel they are too qualified for their role has risen dramatically. That could be put in another way; it could be said that employers aren’t getting the best out of them. And many people are capable of achieving more than they’re being asked to contribute. When people feel they’ve made a real contribution, it creates pride. Pride is a special thing because when you come home at the end of a day, you like to think, ‘I made a difference’. You were worth something. So I’m turning the proposition around to say not: if the organisation means something to you, you will contribute – but rather: if you feel you’re contributing to the organisation, then that organisation will mean something to you.Good Work And our Times 37
  • 39. The expliCiT deAlThe expliCiT deAlA report on the nature of ‘good work’ must include an exploration of the contract people sign-up towhen they take a job: the explicit deal between employees and employers. One thing that is immediatelyclear is that pay is central to that contract.pAy levels And The GroWinG GApEmployees and employers alike rank pay in the top three elements of the employment contract. Itis, after all, the primary purpose of going to work: people need the wherewithal to pay their bills. TheTowers Perrin survey of more than 35,000 US employees found that basic pay ranked second only tocorporate reputation in its power to influence people to join an organisation.51 Employers too rank it veryhighly among the characteristics of what constitutes a ‘good job’. Among 600 UK firms surveyed by TheWork Foundation for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE),52 22 per cent – almost a quarter – identifiedit as the dominant feature. (Table 2 below) Yet, as the table shows, pay is only one important factoramong others:TAble 2 – mAin ChArACTerisTiCs oF A ‘Good job’ – employer deFiniTions Characteristic Number of employers Per cent rating as ‘important’ Remuneration 132 22 Fulfilling role/personally rewarding 94 16 Interesting work 86 16 Being valued/appreciated for what they do 98 16 Job satisfaction 94 16 Autonomy/decision control 86 14 Working conditions/environment 84 14 n=600 Source: HSE, 2009It is not just the amount of pay which people receive which matters to them, however. Workers are alsoconcerned about the fairness of pay and the process by which it is allocated. A survey of 2,800 Federalworkers in the US found that fair pay procedures were more strongly related to job satisfaction, trust inmanagement, workplace harmony and intention to stay than equity in the allocation of pay or the levelof pay itself.53 So while pay really matters to people, used as a spur to incentivise employees, it is ablunt instrument. This echoes Hertzberg’s work on intrinsic and extrinsic motivators which shows thatabsence of good pay can act as a de-motivator or an annoyance in the ‘deal’ but, even when pay is feltto be satisfactory, it is unlikely by itself to command loyalty or ensure commitment.54The spread of pay levels is another aspect of fairness. In recent years, the pattern of pay in the UKshows that, whilst in general pay has been rising, the gap between the top and bottom has also been51 Towers Perrin. Working today: Understanding what drives employee engagement. The2003 Towers Perrin Report, 2003.52 Constable S, Coats D, Bevan S and Mahdon M, Good Jobs, Health and Safety Executive, 2009.53 Alexander S and Ruderman M, The role of procedural and distributive justice in organizational behavior, Social Justice Research, Volume 1, Number 2, pp177-198.54 Herzberg, F, The Motivation to Work, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1959.38 Good Work And our Times
  • 40. The expliCiT deAlwidening. Figure 1, for example, tracks the real value of weekly earnings for both male and female fulltime employees at the bottom, the middle and the top of the spread. What we find is that the distributionof pay has become far more dispersed over the period from the mid-to-late 1970s up to the late 1990s.For men, top male earners doubled their earnings between 1977 and 2002, from around £500 to£1,000. Meanwhile, middle earners saw only just over a 50 per cent increase in their earnings – andgrowth at the bottom was just over a quarter. As a result, the ratio between the top and the bottomincreased from 2.3 to 3.6 during that time. The distribution of pay for women shows a similar pattern,although there were faster increases at all levels.FiGure 1 – WideninG pAy dispersion in The uk Full time weekly earnings since 1968 1200 1000 800£ per week 600 400 200 0 2000 2002 2006 1970 1972 1974 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2004 2008 1968 2007 Male Top decile – Males Median – Males Bottom decile – Females Top decile – Females Median – Females Bottom decileSource: 1968-1996 NES, 1997-2008 ASHE: 2008 pricesAt the lower level, a significant proportion of the increase that was achieved took place after 1997,when the National Minimum Wage was introduced. This was an area where legislation intervened in thedynamic of market forces and, for the first time, set a floor on wages. In retrospect, the effect has beento mitigate the growing gap between the top and the bottom somewhat – which has been especiallysignificant for women because they make up the majority of low paid workers. When the economistStephen Machin of the LSE55 examined wage inequality, as shown in Figure 2 below, he found thatoverall inequality increased in the 2000s, but not to such an extent as in the 1980s, which he attributesto the National Minimum Wage.55 Machin S, Big Ideas: Rising Wage Inequality, CentrePiece, Autumn, 2008. (accessed 1 October 2010).Good Work And our Times 39
  • 41. The expliCiT deAlFiGure 2 – hourly WAGe inequAliTy in The uk Hourly Wage Inequality in the UK 2.5 Annualised percentage point changes 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0 1980s 1990s 2000s -0.5 -1.0 ■ 90-10 wage differential ■ 90-50 wage differential ■ 10-50 wage differentialSource: Machin, 2008The Low Pay Commission also reports that the National Minimum Wage has helped – and continues tohelp – to reduce the gender inequality gap, arguing that more women than men have been lifted ontoa higher wage rate since its introduction.56 Indeed, the gap has declined from 16 per cent before theintroduction of the minimum wage to 11 per cent in April 2009.Today, the National Minimum Wage is supported by all three major political parties and is popularamongst the public. Yet, at the time of its introduction, many had warned that it would have direconsequences for the economy and there was resistance from many commentators, businesses andthe political Opposition. The Bank of England was also worried about the potential effect on inflation.Their argument was that any attempt to raise wages artificially must reduce employment and could wellend up hurting the most vulnerable. The most efficient labour markets, it was said, are ones that arecompletely deregulated. But all the evidence shows that employment growth was not affected and theNational Minimum Wage now appears to be a permanent fixture in UK labour market policy. As GeorgeOsborne has commented, ‘modern Conservatives acknowledge the fairness of a minimum wage’.57At the other end of the wage spectrum, top level salaries have been increasing. The result is that, inmany organisations, the differential between the lowest and highest level has grown significantly. We arenot talking here about the outliers, such as the salaries for star footballers and celebrities which oftenhit the headlines, but the more day-to-day manifestations of the phenomenon between the higher paidbosses and the lowest paid employees in the workplace. This is a topical issue of concern and showsup, for instance, in the increasing number of questions at AGMs about executive rewards. And typically,as Commissioner Jim McAuslan has seen, it is the gap between the top and the bottom levels thatcauses the greatest unease:56 Low Pay Commission, National Minimum Wage: Low Pay Commission Report 2010, 2010.57 George Osborne Speech on ‘Fairness’ at Demos, 21 August 2008. On_Fairness.aspx (accessed 1 October 2010).40 Good Work And our Times
  • 42. The expliCiT deAl Jim McAuslan, BALPA In my experience, pay isn’t the number one reason why people leave employers. What tends to happen is they become dissatisfied working for a particular employer and they start looking around. Then they start looking at what the salary tag is elsewhere and then they begin to think, ‘Maybe I could get a better job elsewhere where I’d be more satisfied and there might be more money.’ So pay is not the main driver. That said, when employees see the extremes and what they perceive to be double standards, then they get upset. It’s these extremes that cause the resentment, rather than your manager being paid more than you – or even your manager’s manager being paid more than you. People get that. It’s the lack of openness, accountability and transparency that worries people. So one of the reasons a lot of people join a union is to feel that there’s a sense of justice: they want to know that the employer has been pressure tested, they want to have someone who is going to hold the employer to account and ask the difficult questions.The Trend ToWArds TrAnspArenCyThe significant trend towards greater transparency about pay and pay structures is increasingly beingplayed out in organisations as a way of responding to the concerns about disproportionate differences.It is being used as a mechanism to open the debate about what is appropriate and fair. For manyorganisations today, it is a new discussion but for the John Lewis Partnership, the concept has afamously long history and has served them well.In 1900, the constitution of the Partnership originally defined the need for both a minimum and amaximum wage.58 The maximum wage was then set as whatever was lower of two calculations: 25times the wage of a London selling assistant with four children, or £5000 a year, both after tax – theequivalent tax rate in those times was 7.5 per cent compared with 50 per cent today. Today, the formulahas shifted somewhat and is expressed as 25 times the average basic pay of non-management partnersbefore tax. Nonetheless, more than a hundred years on, this same approach is apparent, underpinnedby a belief that the gap between top and bottom should be both transparent and reasonable. This beliefalso informs the Coalition Government’s ‘Fair Pay Review’ in the Public Sector59 which examines how a20:1 pay dispersion ratio could be implemented across most of the UK public sector.There are even a few instances of organisations shifting to the extreme of complete transparency onpay for each individual. Happy Computers is a small business where Henry Stewart, the founder andChief Executive, believes that complete pay transparency, including about his own salary, has been animportant contributor to staff wellbeing and productivity, as well as loyalty and commitment: This not only means people see where they might get to, but also forces us to justify what we are paying people.60Generally though, the trend in business is more about having transparent pay structures thantransparency over individual pay rates. The expansion of job evaluation systems in larger organisations58 Cox, P, Spedan’s Partnership: The Story of John Lewis and Waitrose, Labatie Books, 2010.59 (accessed 1 October, 2010).60 Simms J, Small Company, Big Smile, Director Magazine, August 2006. (accessed 1 October, 2010).Good Work And our Times 41
  • 43. The expliCiT deAlmeans that the architecture of the pay system – that is, which jobs sit within which pay ranges – isusually transparent to all employees. It is a method of arriving at both an internal and external view ofpay relativities, allowing an organisation to compare the demands of jobs in the labour market. It has thebenefit also of allowing employees to see how their pay, and therefore their careers, may progress withina transparent structure. It has been a growing trend over the past 20 years or so, and is now the norm.For some sectors, however, this shift was counter-cultural. In some media and publishing companies,for example, historically salaries have been settled on an individual and idiosyncratic basis – supportedby a culture of secrecy about reward levels. In some instances, disclosure of details of one’s pay toa colleague even led to dismissal, disciplinary action or ‘career death’. But this opaque approachhas proven to be an unsustainable situation in the modern workplace. It leads eventually to a chaoticsystem, a profound sense of unfairness amongst employees and the employer becoming increasinglyvulnerable to challenge on the grounds of equal pay.61 So most of these companies have modernisednow and redesigned their pay systems, resulting in the creation of bands of pay for different roles,making the structure more visible and decision making processes more transparent.The irony is that it has been known for a long time that people often over-estimate the pay that othersreceive, particularly when they are separated from them in the pay scale. So when salaries are keptsecret, there is evidence that people judge the distribution to be more hierarchical than it actually is.62Thus, becoming more transparent about pay structures and systems might demonstrate that things areless unfair than people might think they are.Ultimately, what matters to people is that both pay levels and the process of determining them are seen to befair. People want clarity about how decisions about pay are made and a sense of justice about the outcome.Yet, fairness is not the same as equity – and, interestingly, both the left and right of the political spectrumagree about that. The aspiration is to reward people who contribute strongly and to be equally clearabout those who do not. As Commissioner, and Executive Vice Chair of the Work Foundation, WillHutton says in his report on the subject: Fairness is about both outcomes and processes. Outcomes must be proportional to effort, especially discretionary effort that has plainly made a difference to the enterprise. Salaries, wages and bonuses must reflect due desert.63This notion of ‘due desert’ is highlighted by Performance Related Pay (PRP) systems. There is evidencethat in organisations where good and bad performance are awarded alike, employees experience realdissatisfaction and demotivation.64 As The Work Foundation discovered, when PRP was first introducedin the civil service there was considerable anxiety among employees about the potential ‘unfairnessand divisiveness’ of being judged by peers in a more transparent way than previously. But as these paysystems matured and more civil servants found themselves at the top of pay bands, the concern shiftedto toleration of laziness or incompetence. People felt that the implementation of PRP did not differentiateenough between good and bad performers. Strong performers resented being paid so little more thanpoor performers for sometimes extraordinary additional effort. It is an illustration that ‘fairness’ is abouthow to establish justifiable difference, not just equity.Performance management systems and 360° feedback have become mainstream in the last 15 yearsor so. The intention has been to make workplaces more open and meritocratic. Views on appraisals,promotions and appointments are made more explicit and often subject to peer review. In the view ofCommissioner Peter Housden, performance appraisal is a valuable tool for use in the very significantmanagement challenge of tackling systematic poor performance:61 Michael J. Gibbs, An Economic Approach to Process in Pay and Performance Appraisals, Harvard Business School, 1991.62 Lawler, E., Pay and Organizational Effectiveness: A psychological view, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971.63 Hutton W, Are we heading for a fairer workplace? The Work Foundation, 2010.64 Gerhart, B, Rynes S; Smithey Fulmer I, Pay and Performance: Individuals, Groups, and Executives, The Academy of Management Annals, Volume 3, June 2009.42 Good Work And our Times
  • 44. The expliCiT deAl Peter Housden, Scottish Government In the public sector, performance pay has often been adopted in a rather half-hearted fashion, giving us the worst of both worlds. The view was taken that public servants would be motivated by financial incentives – but then not quite believing it or fearing the consequences, the incentives were made insufficiently large to shift behaviours, but large enough to enrage the population. Now it is clear that the public is not willing to see its public servants rewarded in this way. I don’t think anyone will much regret this passing. If it turns out that bonuses disappear in the public sector, it may prove to be a good stimulus for managers to be more effective – that is more honest and systematic – in performance appraisal and reporting. I’ve worked across a range of public sector organisations and there are a good number of areas where there is a hunger for performance appraisal and development, and people get stuck into it. But there are also areas which just settle for a formulaic, low impact process. In these places, you also find an unwillingness to tackle poor performance or even to use the lowest grade markings. This really does need senior management attention. Board members are busy with policy, operation and finance. But the team in charge of performance management is usually drawn from significantly lower-graded expertise in HR. The idea that a board would pick up this issue and apply to it the same discipline and focus as we would to an operational target, needs to become the norm in the public sector. I see some excellent practice in this area, but it is terribly uneven – and that can be changed.Given that poor performance is a fact of life in the workplace, it is important to have a way of responding to itthat is seen to be ‘fair’. Doing nothing is not ‘fair’. Failure to confront it is a risk to the success of the organisation– and it sends a signal that good work is not valued. Managers who ignore it, do not fully understand thecorrosive effect that continual lenience towards poor performance has on the morale and commitment ofothers. As Commissioner, Kim Winser, puts it what matters is how it demotivates everybody else: Kim Winser, Agent Provocateur and 3i People can see if they come in late, they go home early, they don’t do anything well, or they are just deliberately coasting, they don’t make any decisions, they avoid anything difficult and they’re still being paid a salary. And that turns off good people. The regulations now make doing anything about it so difficult and it takes such an enormous amount of time that often employers avoid it. But I’m convinced that it is a real inhibitor to good people enjoying work.Robert Liden’s study at the University of Illinois showed that, maybe surprisingly, people tend to belenient in their judgement of low performance in colleagues. However, they do see it as the responsibilityof management to act and see omission to do so as a weakness in management.65In organisations with sophisticated performance management capabilities, when a manager encounters anexample of under-performance, they are encouraged to get at what the source of that poor performanceis. BT managers, for instance, are trained to explore whether there are changes in personal or familycircumstances, such as financial, divorce, childcare or health issues. Specifically, a sudden drop inperformance may be one of the first signs of depression or other mental health problems. BT has earned65 Liden R, Wayne S, Judge, Sparrowe R, Kraimer M and Franz T, Management of Poor Performance: A Comparison of Manager, Group Member, and Group Disciplinary Decisions, Journal of Applied Psychology, 84(6), pp 835-850, 1999.Good Work And our Times 43
  • 45. The expliCiT deAlan outstanding record in spotting and supporting mental health problems, with 70 per cent of employeeswho have had more than six months off work with illness helped back into their jobs – against the norm inmost organisations that people in those circumstances remain on long term sick pay, or are disciplined ordismissed. It may even be that the root cause of underperformance turns out to be a mismatch betweenthe person’s skills and the demands of the job. It is a vivid illustration of the importance of managers beingwell equipped to handle the personal aspects of individual and team performance.66It is in the areas of pay structures and performance management that transparency tends to attract mostattention. However, the principle can be applied much more broadly. It is changing operational processes,ranging from the rise in open book partnerships between businesses and their suppliers to more robustreporting of environmental impact. Establishing more transparent processes often acts as a catalyst tosetting new standards of accepted behaviour and values within organisations. A survey by Deloitte in 2008indicated that greater transparency had helped to facilitate a more engaged and productive workplace,with 84 per cent of employees reporting that improved openness by the leadership had led to a moreethical organisation and 68 per cent saying that it had created a more values-based organisation.67Just as it was evident in our earlier discussion of financial incentives that the sums of money alone donot generate the commitment of employees, so transparency is not only about the number of facts andfigures made public. It is about establishing the culture required to make that kind of process normal. Itunderpins basic rules of engagement and a way of doing things. For instance, these days most LocalAuthorities have cabinet meetings in public and the minutes are then published on the website, so thedeliberations for and against decisions made are transparent and visible to public scrutiny.The trend towards greater transparency is gathering momentum throughout society, crossing all walks oflife. It is evident in everything from access to health records to food labelling, from local crime statistics topolitician’s expenses. It is represented in public enquiries and tabloid exposes. The enormous drive in thisdirection has to be understood against the backdrop of hugely increased access to information throughthe internet, the rise of blogging and the opportunity for individuals to upload information themselves. TheCoalition Government has positioned itself at the forefront of the trend, publishing the names of all publicservants who earn more than the Prime Minister and requiring all Local Authorities to publish all items ofexpenditure over £500 in an attempt to encourage the public to be, what Local Government Secretary EricPickles calls, ‘an army of armchair auditors’.68 The controversy over the Wikileaks website systematicallyreleasing previously confidential information has captured the zeitgeist and made its way into publicconsciousness. People expect now that on any important issue, in the end, all the detail will come out. Andwhere it does not, or is evidently held back, they are suspicious of the reasons.What this adds up to is that the mood of our times is characterised by unprecedented open accessto information and a less hierarchical view of society than a generation ago. Like the rise of consumerpower, it is an area where it is important to recognise that while people may be employees in theworking day, they are citizens at home and in the evening. They bring with them into the workplace theexpectations of the wider world.For businesses, there is a great opportunity to recognise what is driving this trend and to embraceit. Managements who have to be dragged reluctantly towards greater transparency risk entrenchingmistrust and cynicism in their workforce. Yet, used imaginatively, in pay and other aspects of doingbusiness, developing more transparent practices offers a mechanism for dialogue through which to buildtrust in these untrusting times.The ChAllenGe oF persisTenT inequAliTyAchieving transparency in itself does not always make for change, as the stubbornness of the genderpay gap illustrates. Despite 40 years of equal pay legislation which aims to enforce the principle that66 Litchfield P, Mitigating the Impact of an Economic Downturn on Mental Well-being, in I Roberston and C Cooper (Eds), Well-being: Productivity and Happiness at work. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011.67 Deloitte LLP, Ethics & Workplace Survey, 2008.68 (accessed 1 October 2010).44 Good Work And our Times
  • 46. The expliCiT deAl Commissioner perspective from Richard Chartres, Bishop of London – on the spirit of transparency I have a concern that transparency can very easily become the tool of the pseudo humble, of the vengeful ignorant people where tabloid indignation can be whipped up. Take one instance, if there are a thousand people in Government who earn more than the Prime Minister, actually that is not a great scandal; it might be absolutely right. So I would say, yes, we need greater transparency but it has to be balanced by some real appreciation of the value that leadership and management add to an enterprise. It has to be seen in the context of how much we depend on good leadership, on people who are pathfinders, and we can find it in our hearts to be somewhat more than grudging and envious and actually celebrate them a little more. Otherwise, it is very dangerous. A country that loses confidence in its leadership, in business and in the political classes, will suffer the consequences in terms of its inability to move the agenda forward. It’s profound because, at root, this is not just about the individual cases that have been exposed – scandalous and reprehensible as they are – but a general collapse in relations between individuals. We need to make the connection between the capacity of people to cooperate in the political sphere and in the business sphere, and the capacity of citizens to act in a trusting and cooperative way in business and society in general – and to be loyal to friends, promises, obligations, in families and in friendships. One of the things that we ought to be paying attention to is not to poison ourselves with continually bad news, but to recognise it’s our personal relations that either make us apt to be cooperative members of an industrial and work community or active citizens of our society. It’s the structures for that which we need to be dedicated to creating.Good Work And our Times 45
  • 47. The expliCiT deAlwork of equal value must be paid equally, the fact is that there remains a significant inequality gap inwomen’s wages, Women can still expect to earn less than 85p for every £1 their male colleagues earn,and in some sectors the pay gap is far worse. Even at management levels, the gap persists. A study bythe Chartered Management Institute (CMI) shows that, at the current rate, women managers will not bepaid the same as men for 57 years.69 CMI’s head of policy, Petra Wilton, said: “Girls born this year willface the probability of working for around 40 years in the shadow of unequal pay”.Behind the actual pay levels, it is often procedures and processes that perpetuate the inequity. A studyfor the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) analysed the way that performance related pay (PRP)was distributed to men and women doing the same jobs in four different organisations. What emergedwas, that compared with men, women were far less likely to push themselves forward for promotion,even when equally qualified. They were less likely to feel confident about taking on difficult tasks whichwould showcase their skills, even when they had the skills. The study found that in matters of objective-setting, performance assessment, access to promotion and performance-related pay rises, womenwere consistently undervalued and therefore systematically disadvantaged.70What this shows up is that many of the reasons for gender – and other forms of – inequality which persistat work cannot be solved by legislation alone. Rather, they are embedded in the way organisationstypically operate, and the beliefs and perceptions of managers who make decisions about pay, promotionand how to fill posts. So for employers who want to make progress on these issues, it is essential to tacklethe underlying processes which cause the inequality, rather than simply focus on the pay levels per se.A neW AGendA For The unionsAll this leads to the question of how pay levels are set in the rights and bargaining arena. Over the past20 to 30 years, collective bargaining has been on the decline, certainly in the private sector. This reflectsa decline in trade union membership which, at its peak in 1979, stood at 13 million, but is now fewerthan 7 million; just 28 per cent of the workforce. And the age profile is getting older: more than a third ofemployees aged 35 and over are union members, compared with only a quarter of those aged between25 and 34. By 2007, the density of union membership was higher for women than for men for the thirdconsecutive year, as Figure 3 shows:FiGure 3 – TrAde union densiTy in The uk, 2006 36 34Per cent 32 30 28 26 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 All Men WomenSource: Office of National Statistics, 200969 (accessed 1 October, 2010).70 Bevan S M and Thompson M, Merit pay, performance appraisal and attitudes to women’s work, EOC/IMS Report 234, 1992.46 Good Work And our Times
  • 48. The expliCiT deAlAs Professor David Metcalf of the LSE points out, this narrowing of the membership, accompanied bythe consolidation of the number of union organisations, represents an enormous change over the last100 years: A century ago there were 1300 unions and at the end of World War II there were still nearly 800. Mergers, takeovers and the decline of unions for specific craft groups, like the Jewish Bakers and Sheffield Wool Shearers Workers Union, has reduced this figure to 226. Indeed, the 11 unions each with over 250,000 members now account for almost three quarters of total membership. But some small unions do survive – including the Association of Somerset Inseminators and the Church and Oswaldwistle Power Loom Overlookers Society.71Yet even today, in the public sector, the majority of staff are still working under the umbrella of unionisedpay settlements, framed within collective agreements and national pay bargaining processes. Becauseof the role they play in setting pay of non-members, unions still have a considerable influence whichreaches beyond the coverage of their own membership into the economy as a whole. Indeed aboutthree million non-members have their pay determined by collective agreements. France is an extremeexample of this extended form of influence, with collective agreements negotiated by unions whosemembership accounts for only 8.2 per cent of French workers but affects the pay and conditions of 95per cent of the French workforce.72As the collective power of unions has declined – especially in the private sector – a combination ofmarket forces and individual bargaining power have emerged as the decisive forces behind employeewage-setting. This brings with it greater volatility in pay awards and the ability for employers to targetpay increases. For example, in straightened times, many businesses will target what resources areavailable for pay increases only to those who they consider to have performed particularly well, or topay non-consolidated (and non-pensionable) bonuses to some staff, rather than across-the-boardincreases to basic pay for all staff. Pay freezes, or even pay cuts, during the recession reflected both thereduced ability of businesses to pay and also weak demand in the UK labour market in all but the mostspecialist occupations. And even though it represents a break with the pattern of traditional bargainingarrangements, in some instances, unions have been active partners in this new pragmatic approach –which has had a direct and positive impact on job retention.Coming out of recession, many people entering jobs are being taken on at lower salaries than theircolleagues were a few years ago. It can also lead to patchiness geographically as the market rate fora particular skill may change in different local employment landscapes. Meanwhile, this trend needs tobe seen against the rise in the global markets, where international companies are employing in differentcountries all over the world and trading off the benefits of skills in one area of the world with low wagesin another.So the core part of the explicit, or contractual, ‘deal’ which employees have with their employers aboutpay and conditions has changed significantly in recent years. There is greater variety in pay-settingmechanisms, more variability across industries, location and performance, and with a widening of paydifferentials between top and bottom – despite the introduction of the minimum wage – and a persistentgap between men and women. This makes navigating the landscape of pay for most individuals moredifficult than 30 years ago – and it makes it harder to assess, quickly and unambiguously, whetherthey are getting a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. But pay is not the only part of the employmentrelationship where emphasis on the individual has grown.The shift away from collective bargaining towards market rates has coincided with what some mightregard as a compensating growth in employment rights for individuals, partly driven by legislationintroduced by the last Labour government, such as, the right to request flexible working, maternity andpaternity leave, the UK’s membership of the European Union and partial embrace of the Social Chapter.71 Metcalf, D, British Unions: resurgence or perdition?, The Work Foundation, 2005.72 Visser J, Union membership statistics in 24 countries, Monthly Labor Review, pp 38-49, January 2006.Good Work And our Times 47
  • 49. The expliCiT deAlReflecting that trend, some aspects of conflict resolution in the workplace have also become moreindividual. There has been a huge growth in employment legislation from the early 1970s, when therewere less than half-a-dozen ‘employment laws’, to the present day with over 60 Acts of Parliament,more than 120 Regulations, 20 Codes of Practice and nearly 40 European Directives. This has led to acorresponding increase in the number of Employment Tribunal claims. Employment Tribunals now have57 jurisdictions – 57 different reasons that an employer can find itself in an Employment Tribunal. Todayin the UK an average of one in 200 employees makes a Tribunal claim every year.73Yet, although this appears to testify to tribunals acting as the mechanism for grievances in today’sworkplace, many union representatives report that they now spend a significant amount of their timehandling individual cases and tribunals. They are taking on the role of helping employees to navigate thecomplexity of the system and providing greater leverage in the system than an individual can generallyapply by themselves.Taking stock of the current situation, the view from employers and some unions alike is that, in mostareas, employment regulation has gone as far as is useful in improving the quality of work whichemployees experience. There are some areas – such as flexibility of working patterns – where there maybe more that can be achieved, but typically it is for people working in lower paid jobs or in small firms.Most companies known for their good employment practices argue that they act in these areas becauseit is the right and effective way to do business, not because of regulatory requirements. Indeed theevidence is that regulation tends to follow innovative practice in the market – as it did, for instance, withthe right to request flexible working, where the impetus came from the fact that many companies werealready offering considerable flexibility and others were offering none, until the legislation opened thedoor to the possibility for everyone.These days, the frontier of new practice between employers and employees is increasingly about thedevelopment of mutually beneficial approaches. The union movement grew originally out of the realitythat the interests of employers and employees do not always coincide – and even in the modernworkplace, it must be recognised that remains true. However, there has been a real shift in howemployment relations are tackled. To take a single indicator of that: the number of days lost to industrialaction is dramatically lower today than it was 30 years ago. Commenting on the prospect of industrialunrest rising in the light of current public spending cuts, Larry Elliott, economics editor of the Guardianreflects on the contrast: The original winter of discontent was at its most disruptive in early 1979; in that year almost 30m working days were lost to strike action, or 0.45% of the total. During 2009, the comparable figures were 456,000 and 0.006%. Industrial action would have to rise 75 times this year to get back to the levels seen in 1979.74Underlying this is a wide acceptance by many employers and a growing number of unions that jointproblem-solving and the advantages of seeking mutually acceptable solutions to workplace problemsgenerally achieves more than conflict. A ground-breaking example of this philosophy was Usdaw’spartnership agreement with Tesco in the 1990s. The agreement pioneered new practices; for example,training Union representatives alongside management so they understand the dynamics of the business,its pressures and opportunities – and, at a simple level, to establish stronger personal relationshipsbetween people who later may find themselves negotiating with one another across the table.And Tesco was not the only business to take this approach. During that period, there were instancesof organisations exploring radical solutions, such as Mastercare, with a no-strike agreement and anarrangement to share legal advice; Birds-Eye Walls, which instituted a Company Forum to discussbusiness issues with staff representatives; Barclays, where an agreement was put in place with UNIFIwhich created a framework to deal with the bank’s strategic options on outsourcing jobs overseas.73 (accessed 1 October, 2010).74 (accessed 1 October, 2010).48 Good Work And our Times
  • 50. The expliCiT deAl Commissioner perspective from John Hannett, Usdaw– on a broader agenda for the unions To me, now, it’s about the ability to move away from seeing the collective bargaining annual review as the key showpiece event. Unions and management – not exclusively and not in every situation – still tend to see the relationship in terms of grievance, discipline and the annual event of a pay negotiation. What is missing in that for me is the ability of unions and management to form a relationship, not just around those key events, but on a continuous basis. That requires management to share business information that in the past probably wouldn’t have been shared with trades unions. But equally, the onus is on the trade union to have the ability and leadership skills to get involved in issues where in the past they would have said that’s the responsibility of the employer and not one for us. If I look back to my learning curve in Liverpool many years ago as a shop steward, it was all about demarcation. If 25 people were designated to run a production line and 24 turned up, the production line didn’t run. It was the worst example of a relationship with an employer, but they were the kinds of agreements that we were signing with employers, and employers were signing with us. Prior to the move towards a partnership approach, the unions were concerned with three issues – grievance, discipline and pay; they were the only things we were involved in. On the pay issue, what would have been done in the past is that we would present the pay claim, the company would respond and, probably after numerous adjournments and many meetings, we’d reach an agreement. In many of these negotiations it became a ritual. Contrast that with what’s happing today and our experience with a major retailer, which enabled us to take a different view and not just operate in a traditional adversarial model. The difference is that now there’s dialogue throughout the year on a whole series of business and staff areas. So that when the pay review takes place, a lot of work has been done around the business already; understanding what the business needs going forward and what the employees are looking for. There will be several streams of work, which may be on equality, flexibility or diversity. That is totally new, totally different from past experience. What unions and companies still do too often is they get through the next crisis, heave a sigh of relief and go back to the day job, but haven’t really been able to build up the trust and the relationships. That’s why I’m passionate about moving away from an adversarial model, but it takes the confidence to take some risks. And I apply that to the unions as I do to management as well. So I’m saying that to support employees today, the union has to make a shift to a wider agenda. The three original concerns remain key issues for the unions but there is a wider brief now, on skills, equality and the right balance in social and employer hours, that my members tell me are important for their needs.Good Work And our Times 49
  • 51. The expliCiT deAlThese are all indicative of active attempts to embed a non-adversarial attitude as an alternative to thetraditional labour relations characterised by workers versus management.Not all of these types of arrangements have survived and the drive towards formal partnershipagreements has fallen away over the past five years or so. There are concerns in some quarters thatthat the ferocity of the post-crash recession is hardening lines and making partnership approachesmore difficult. However, there are many counter-examples where hard times have been a catalyst tocollaboration, especially in taking innovative steps to save jobs for the long term.There are new versions of partnership arrangements beginning to emerge, informed by the samevalues. The Social Partnership Forum (SPF) in the NHS, is governed by a formal agreement and hasrepresentation from all of the health unions. While it does not engage in bargaining, it is an importantvehicle for raising concerns, monitoring progress on change initiatives and agreeing communicationlines on potentially difficult issues. The SPF agreement75 even makes clear its ‘principles for effective jointworking’ – which are: • building trust and a mutual respect for each other’s roles and responsibilities • openness, honesty and transparency in communications • top level commitment • a positive and constructive approach • commitment to work with and learn from each other • early discussion of emerging issues and maintaining dialogue on policy and priorities • commitment to ensuring high quality outcomes • where appropriate, confidentiality and agreed external positions • making the best use of resources.However the trend towards formal partnership arrangements develops, it is clear that the new agendafor employer-employee relationships will continue to be around establishing mutual benefit.Many unions are alert to this and see it as central to their role the in 21st century. In particular, theyrecognise that flexibility of working practices is an increasingly important area for bargaining – born outof employees’ desire for greater choice about their lifestyle and for a balance between their commitmentto life at work and at home. In addition, there is a growing emphasis on lifelong learning and skillsdevelopment. For instance, there are now 26,000 Union Learning Reps who are dedicated to buildingskills and capabilities among their members.76 And in a world where transferable employability skills are akey ingredient of long term job security for individuals, this is set to increase. Progressive unions believethat it is on this much broader agenda that they can make a real contribution to assuring their membersenjoy more ‘good work’ in the future.75 (accessed 1 October, 2010).76 Saundry R, Hollinrake A and Antcliff V, Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation: Results of the 2009 survey of ULRs and managers, UnionLearn Research paper 12, February 2011.50 Good Work And our Times
  • 52. The expliCiT deAlin summAryIt is possible to see new priorities emerging in the core employment contract – the explicit deal –between employer and employee. Greater transparency, mutuality and flexibility are all changing thedialogue. Pay remains at the core of it, of course, but other factors matter to people too.What this means for people negotiating the terms of employment in the workplace is that: • The trend to ever greater transparency is pushing the boundaries of corporate behaviour. It is becoming used a device to tackle the topical concern about the gap between the highest and lowest paid in society and organisations. Yet, the significance of the broad social trend means it has considerable power to influence a wide spectrum of organisational practice over time, including performance management to supplier relationships to environmental practices. There is an opportunity for employers to embrace the demand for greater transparency and work with their employees in a way which builds trust and a renewed sense of shared values. • The interest in seeking mutual benefit represents a significant shift over the past twenty years, away from the adversarial relationships of capital versus labour. The terrain of negotiation and collective bargaining has shifted too; it is no longer only about pay and conditions. The increasing emphasis on flexibility is emblematic of the new agenda, which encompasses skills, diversity and employability. It responds, on one hand, to people’s desire for greater recognition of their lives beyond the workplace. On the other, it responds to the organisation’s need to meet the demands of today’s markets and today’s consumers. To achieve those ends requires employers and employees to understand more fully what everyone involved wants from work.The written contract inevitably forms the backbone of the employment relationship, yet what putsflesh on the bones, is less explicit. It is made up of a complex mix of personal interactions andimplicit expectations. It is manifested in how people engage together around the purpose of theorganisation – which is the subject of the next chapter of this report.Good Work And our Times 51
  • 53. The impliCiT deAlThe impliCiT deAlThe previous chapter was concerned with the explicit contract between employer and employee. Yet itis the implicit expectations – built into the relationships, processes and values of an organisation – whichdo so much to create the everyday experience of work for people, good or bad. This chapter exploresthat unwritten contract, looking at what it takes to understand and manage the mix of factors which canmake work more rewarding for all parties.A Work Foundation study on the future of HR, exploring the changing nature of the modern employmentrelationship, confirmed that there is more to it than the tangible contractual aspects. The real deal isabout interdependency: The deal is what the employer offers and where both parties’ essential needs are met; where there are sufficient areas of common interest, an employment relationship emerges. That relationship is not only a transaction of tangibles but one influenced and sustained by what each believes of the other. Thus, it is one of interdependency. This is the psychological contract, a fundamental component of the employment relationship.77So what do people really want from work? As we established at the outset of this report, mostemployees want their work to be meaningful and to be valued for their contribution. In turn, whatemployers want is for their employees to engage their best efforts on behalf of the organisation.enGAGed employeesIt is the subtle interaction of these complex sets of needs which has given rise to the now very familiarbusiness language of ‘engagement’. Often, however, the danger is that discussion of the topic remainsat the mechanistic level and the activities involved are handled largely in transactional terms, such asenumerating the number of training courses or arrangements for flexible working hours on offer. Takenin this spirit, these become no more than processes designed to deliver the output of an engagedemployee – and so the approach leaves out the very core of the concept. Employees engaged in what;committed to what?What truly binds people to an organisation is a sense of connection to the purpose of that organisationand seeing how their role fits into it. That is what makes the enterprise feel worthwhile and is the basison which they are prepared to engage their best efforts.Numerous studies over the past 20 years have explored this topic, with a high degree of alignment on thekey points. In a paper presented to the Good Work Commission, Emily Lawson from the managementconsultancy, McKinsey, has synthesised many of the different characteristics into a single model whichpaints a picture of what an engaged employee looks like. She expresses it as someone who: • Is committed and will go ‘above and beyond’ • Is passionate and takes personal ownership for the quality of their work • Paints a positive picture of the organisation and recommends it and its products/services to others • Understands how their work results in meaningful outcomes • Vigorously pursues the organisation’s goals7877 Sullivan J and Wong W, Deal or no deal? An exploration of the modern employment relationship, The Work Foundation, 2010.78 Lawson E, Engaged staff: What do they look like and why might you want them?, Good Work Commission Provocation Paper 2, 2010.52 Good Work And our Times
  • 54. The impliCiT deAlSimply by contrasting those attributes with their opposites – ie: a graphic picture of ‘disengagement’– she argues that it is clear why any employer might want and need engaged employees. Activelydisengaged employees are not only likely to be withholding discretionary effort, to be unhappy andconsidering leaving, but also to be spreading their dissatisfaction amongst their colleagues.The rise of interest in ’engagement’ represents a challenge to the more traditional concept of ‘jobsatisfaction’, which was long held to be a reliable measure of employees’ disposition towards their workand their employer. However, the validity of job satisfaction as a predictor of future employee behaviour– such as, how well people will perform, how likely they are to be absent or to resign, how preparedthey are to give good customer service – has been shown, in most cases, to be weak. As Emily Lawsondescribes it, a satisfied employee puts in their time but not the energy or commitment required to drivethe business forward.Meyer and Allen were amongst the first researchers to come up with measures for employeecommitment, with questions such as whether an employee would recommend the company’s products,or recommend the organisation to a friend as a place to work.79 The idea is vividly illustrated byimagining asking a nurse whether she would recommend the hospital she works in to a family memberwho needed treatment. Responses to this form of questioning begin to differentiate the qualities of theorganisation which an employee has faith in, as opposed to the more passive approach which asksonly, ‘Are you happy with your pay, your boss or you co-workers?’, and which fails to translate intobehaviours or outcomes for the business.A body of research now tells us that it is employee commitment and engagement which are the mostpowerful vehicles for converting a set of attitudes and values into behaviour.80 From an employeeperspective, this commitment is likely to represent a strong identification with the values of theorganisation, a pride in being part of it, a willingness to exert effort on its behalf and a desire andintention to remain a member of it. This realisation has led many organisations to shift away fromemployee satisfaction surveys to focusing their attention on how to create engagement.So what are the factors that build an engaged workforce? Different studies use different language, butcommon themes recur. Emily Lawson summarises them as follows: • Trust and integrity • The nature of the job • Link between company and individual goals • Career growth opportunities • Employee development • Pride • Co-workers • Personal relationship with management • And a newly emerging factor, meaning – which is at the core of this report.Notably, financial reward does not appear on this list. As we’ve outlined elsewhere, typically, it comesup as part of the picture but not as a major determinant of engagement. This is not to say that pay hasno influence on behaviour or performance but, compared to the drivers of engagement listed here, theevidence is that its influence is relatively weak and difficult to sustain. Professor Adrian Furnham, a Britishpsychologist who has conducted much research into motivation, sums it up vividly:79 Meyer, J P and Allen, N J,. A three-component conceptualization of organizational commitment: Some methodological considerations, Human Resource Management Review, 1, pp. 61-98, 1991.80 Meyer J, Becker T and Vandenberghe C, Employee Commitment and Motivation: A Conceptual Analysis and Integrative Model, Journal of Applied Psychology, 89 (6), pp991–1007, 2004.Good Work And our Times 53
  • 55. The impliCiT deAl Money can be a much more powerful demotivator than motivator. It is effective because it gives people feedback on their performance, [it] gives them recognition on how well they are doing and it gives them an opportunity to spend money in the way they want. Money is useful, but its power wears off quite quickly. If you think money is the only motivator then you have to go back to the drawing board.81In a recent interview with the Telegraph newspaper to mark 20 years at the Bank of England, MervynKing talked about his recognition of the same underlying reality that employers have no option but to findways engage their employees’ best efforts: The more I’ve thought about how labour markets work, the more I’ve realised that there are hardly any jobs whose tasks you can describe exactly. Nowadays, most jobs have the property that employees can choose to do them well or badly, so employers need to think about the long-term welfare of the staff not just pay today.82So, if the factors which make up engagement are more powerful as a motivator than pay, let us explorea few of the key components which Emily Lawson identified in more detail. She cites the link betweencompany and individual goals which, in great part, is the topic of the earlier chapter of this report onPurpose and Meaning which explores how clarity about the purpose of the organisation sets the contextfor an individual’s sense of purpose and meaning.First on Lawson’s list is trust and integrity. For an employee to want to be committed to theorganisation they have to believe that management can be trusted to lead well, to tell the truth and actwith integrity. This also goes back to points discussed in the chapter on Meaning and Purpose: thatthe responsibilities of leadership include communicating the purpose and values of the organisationwith authenticity. Flowing from that, and discussed in the chapter on the Explicit Deal, the drive towardstransparency offers a way to establish a sense of fairness and justice in the institutions of society, whichcan serve as a valuable counter to the climate of distrust which pervades public opinion today.Another factor on Lawson’s list is pride. An employee is perhaps most aligned with the values oftheir employer when they express real pride in the place their work. It goes back to an employee’sreadiness to recommend their workplace to a friend – which translates into engagement at work. Italso explains why there is clear evidence that the integrity of a company’s position on corporate socialresponsibility can enhance the engagement of employees. Several studies show that corporate supportfor volunteering programmes, in which employees83 are given time off to work in community projectssponsored by their employer, have a very significant positive impact on pride in the organisation.An evaluation of Pfizer’s international volunteering programme, Global Health Fellows – which givesemployees the opportunity to participate in HIV projects in poor countries – found that both pride in andloyalty to the company were extremely high as a result; 87 per cent reported an increased sense of pridein the business.84Personal growth and development accounted for three of Lawson’s key factors. Employees oftenexpect their employer to support them in their ambition to learn new things and progress in life. Andthey value it when an investment is made in them at work through training and development. TheNational Trust’s Career Scheme, for example, was established to respond to concern about the declinein gardeners and countryside wardens. It is a three year programme, combining college-based learningwith practical experience. A student interviewed at the end of his third year enthused about what itmeant to him:81 (accessed 5 October, 2010).82 The Telegraph, interview with Charles Moore, 4th March 2011.83 Collierand J and Esteban R, Corporate social responsibility and employee commitment, Business Ethics: A European Review, 16(1), 2007.84 Vian T, McCoy K, Richards S, Connelly P and Feeley F, Corporate social responsibility in global health: the Pfizer Global Health Fellows international volunteering program, Human Resource Planning Journal 30(1), pp. 30-35, 2007.54 Good Work And our Times
  • 56. The impliCiT deAl I can safely say it’s the best move I’ve ever made. I’ve been taught to drive tractors, use chainsaws, brush cutters, welders – basically, a wide variety of kick-ass (can I say that?) machinery.85Sometime employers are cautious about investing in training because they fear their skilled employeeswill be poached. The evidence points the other way. A recent study86 found that employees who feltthat their employers were supportive of their desire to engage in training and development activity weremore productive, had greater commitment to the organisation and were significantly less likely to resign.Setting out career paths is also motivational because people can envisage the chances for them toprogress in real terms. As with other key factors which generate engagement, it is a mutual benefit.From a business perspective, this kind of systematic career management also allows employers toensure they have an adequate talent pipeline and are managing succession effectively.87Another feature of engagement at work identified by Lawson is the social value of co-workers: beingpart of a community at work.88 People invest in individual friendships with people at work which becomepart of the fabric of their lives. They want to support their colleagues. They put in effort to so as not tolet others down – and derive satisfaction and a sense of a common purpose from close collaboration.A study of education workers reported that the quality of a best friendship at work is also a strongpredictor of job satisfaction. Indeed, about 30 per cent of workers say that they have a best friend atwork and, compared with employees who do not, they are seven times more likely to report high levelsof engagement.There are at least two benefits to the employer of high levels of social cohesion at work. First, peopleworking in these environments are psychologically more resilient and less prone to health problems.89Second, there is evidence that strong social networks in organisations can help generate ‘social capital’which can be commercially advantageous. As Wayne Baker, a sociologist at the University of Michigansummarises: Building social capital produces sustainable success by enabling a company to attract and retain talent, create value and reward value creators, break silos and increase collaboration, improve knowledge management – and much more. In today’s knowledge economy, investment in and capitalising on the capabilities of people working together are the sources of competitive advantage.90One famous case study brings it to life: Xerox suddenly experienced a mysterious decline in theproductivity of photocopy repairmen. Eventually, the cause was identified as the fact that they were nolonger all based at the same depot. Although there was no apparent practical reason for them to use acommon depot, it transpired that they had been in the habit of informally swapping valuable knowledge astheir working days crossed. When they were moved apart, the natural network of knowledge was lost.91The nature of the job, a single item on Lawson’s list, is itself made up of an important bundle of relatedfactors which matter to employees. Taken together they represent a significant opportunity to improvethe experience of work and to increase the degree to which employees are willing to commit theirdiscretionary effort to helping the organisation achieve its goals.85 (accessed 8 October, 2010).86 Dysvik A and Kuvaas B, The relationship between perceived training opportunities, work motivation and employee outcomes, International Journal of Training and Development 12:3, pp 138-157, 2008.87 Hirsh W and Jackson C, Managing Careers in Large Organisations, The Work Foundation, 2004.88 Lawson E, Engaged staff: What do they look like and why might you want them?, Good Work Commission, Provocation 2, 2010.89 Oksanen, T. and Kouvonen, A. and Kivimäki, M. and Pentti, J. and Virtanen, M. and Linna, A. and Vahtera, J. Social capital at work as a predictor of employee health: multilevel evidence from work units in Finland. Social Science and Medicine, 66 (3). pp. 637-649, 2008.90 Baker W, Achieving Success Through Social Capital: Tapping the Hidden Resources in Your Personal and Business Networks, University of Michigan Business School, 2000.91 Brown, J and Duguid, P, Balancing act: How to capture knowledge without killing it,. Harvard Business Review, 2000.Good Work And our Times 55
  • 57. The impliCiT deAlLet us start teasing out those factors through an issue discussed in the previous chapter on the ‘ExplicitDeal’ which is becoming increasingly significant in the workplace: flexibility. The term is typically usedto refer to both flexibility in working time and location, for example, with remote or home workingand shift patterns – which can be a real help to employees ability to integrate their work and home life.When the Inland Revenue, for example, wanted employees to work on Saturday mornings, they askedfor volunteers to do the shift and offered extra holiday in lieu of time worked. The approach provedparticularly popular because, for some employees, it solved their childcare problems.92The traditional stereotype of ‘a white able-bodied male under 45 years old in full time work’ is now only20 per cent of the UK workforce.93 This means we have an unprecedented degree of diversity in thelabour market with a corresponding growth in demand for flexible working and non-standard hours. Andapart from providing practical benefits, an employers’ readiness to offer flexible arrangements is oftenappreciated as a signal that they recognise employees as people. As one worker reported: Flexible working probably gives people a sense that the company is looking after them and hence hopefully a sense of better well-being. A sense that they feel they do have a certain degree of empowerment about where they work and when they work, within business restrictions, of course.94With a growing number of female union members, unions are also having to adapt their bargainingagenda to the changing priorities of their membership. As a TUC report suggested: Our challenge is to develop an agenda that meets people’s aspirations for career and skills development, access to learning and genuine choice and flexibility in working time, as well as dealing with the basics of pay and conditions.95It is a two-way street. A study for the Equal Opportunities Commission found an increasing number ofemployers wanting to change their working patterns in response to customer demand, and thereforerequesting more flexible hours from their employees, for instance: Solaglass needed to respond to peaks and troughs in working hours to meet customer demand and so introduced annualised hours, home-based working for glaziers, flexible start times and training. This has meant that customers get services at times that suit them, whilst employees gain more autonomy and better terms and conditions.96The Department of Work and Pensions’ Family Friendly Working Hours Taskforce,97 which reportedin 2010, identified flexibility in working practices as a major factor determining the engagement andcommitment of many employees, while also delivering concrete business benefit: Falling absenteeism and higher retention leads to a reduction in costs – 65 per cent of employers said flexible working practices had a positive effect on recruitment and retention thus saving on recruitment, induction and training costs. Increased productivity – 58 per cent of small to medium sized enterprises reported improvement in productivity. Increased ability to recruit from a wider talent pool – 42 per cent92 The Work Foundation, Working Capital, 2002.94 Kelliher C and Anderson D, For better or for worse? An analysis of how flexible working practices influence employees’ perceptions of job quality, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 19(3), pp 419 – 431, 2008.95 TUC, A Perfect Union? What workers want from unions, 2003.96 Jones A, Visser F, Coats D, Bevan S & McVerry A, Transforming Work: Reviewing the case for change and new ways of working, Working Paper Series No. 60, Equal Opportunities Commission, 2007.97 Department of Work and Pensions, Flexible Working: working for families, working for business: A report by the Family Friendly Working Hours Taskforce. DWP, 2010.56 Good Work And our Times
  • 58. The impliCiT deAl of employers reported that flexible working had a positive effect on recruitment in their establishment. Greater loyalty amongst staff – 70 per cent of employers noted some or significant improvement in employee relations.Although the UK has some of the longest working hours in the EU, it is also clear that people who canexercise control over their working hours – even if these are long hours – derive more satisfaction andfulfilment from their work. Will Hutton explains how having control over our working hours makes a bigdifference to how we feel about our work: Flexibility and autonomy turn ‘jobs’ back into work from which we derive more satisfaction and to which we commit; there is ample evidence that the more autonomy in the workplace, the greater the productivity. What we all hate – from supermarket till operator to Cabinet Minister – is the loss of control. It is this ‘time sovereignty’ that makes my life bearable.98Commissioner, Clare Chapman, echoes that view: Clare Chapman, National Health Service “The interesting thing about engagement for me is that you need to link it to something that people in the organisation deal with every day, or it doesn’t have real meaning. The more that you’ve got people connected to purpose, the more you can give them autonomy and trust that the sum of their individual endeavours is going to add up to why we are here. It’s like the golden thread; expression of purpose leads to values which are actionable – which creates an engaged workforce.”Having some control over working time, the order in which they perform tasks and the discretion withwhich they can make decisions gives employees the autonomy they value – and the evidence is peopleperform better and become more engaged.Call centres have been called the ‘sweat shops of the 21st century’ because of the degree to which theyhave squeezed autonomy out of work. However even in the case of call centres, where it was thoughtthe scope for innovative redesign of work was limited, it has been demonstrated that providing moreautonomy has resulted in better performance. It was discovered that targeting people to take a certainnumber of calls within a given timeframe and to a set script, was creating a perverse incentive: to finishcalls quickly, rather than solve customers’ problems, which led to more repeat calls. Because in the longrun it is more valuable to have happy customers, the interaction was re-framed to focus on problemresolution – delivering better outcomes for the business and happier staff as well as customers.The research of Professor Stephen Wood, and his colleagues from Sheffield University, confirmed thatcall centre workers were much more likely to find their work fulfilling if they were encouraged to buildcustomer relationships based on fixing people’s problems, and were given some discretion as to howthey went about doing that. A worker in Dixon’s contact centre, for instance, appreciated being able toput his skills and specialist knowledge to work and could make the explicit link between the advice heenjoyed giving and the value he gave to customers: I’m interested in technology and in this job I talk people through the details of laptops, TVs, stereo equipment and all sorts of electrical goods. I’ve gained a great deal of knowledge and I enjoy helping people improve their work or leisure time by choosing the right product.9998 Hutton W, I want to be my own Time Lord, The Observer, 15 June 2003. (accessed 5 October, 2010).99 Brown M, The Untold Truth of Call Centre Life. (accessed 8 October, 2010).Good Work And our Times 57
  • 59. The impliCiT deAl Commissioner perspective from Adam Crozier, ITV – on flexibility During my time at Royal Mail we went through an enormous shift, with a reduction of 60,000 people from the workforce. We were moving from an organisation which was highly unionised with lots of very restrictive working practices to one that was much more open and flexible. And in all that change, both at the frontline level and at the managerial level, you learn a lot about what makes people tick and why they work. For me, the learning that came out of that was that, whilst pay absolutely is important, as important for people is the way in which their job impacts on the rest of their life. To illustrate that: when we were putting in new automation, it meant we were requiring front line staff to start and finish an hour later, asking people to work a full set of hours, to work more flexibly, to change location or cover for people – all those different kinds of flexibility you need in the modern workforce. We began to realise that in many ways the biggest and most difficult change for people was the impact it was having on how they had their lives set up outside work: dropping kids off at school, getting to another part time job in time, covering for a partner who had a job or caring for a relative. And when I went out and talked to people on the frontline myself, which I did, I found that’s what they were concerned about. They didn’t have a problem with the change in working practice in itself; it was the human side of how this relatively small shift in hours was affecting their life outside work that was, in reality, more important to them. You hear from a lot of companies that they want their workforce to be as flexible as possible. But, of course, flexibility works both ways. And it’s really important that we find ways to make that true for people; give them time to make other arrangements, help them find ways around the domestic challenges that poses for them – because we need to keep good people in the business. That balance between work and home life is absolutely critical to people.58 Good Work And our Times
  • 60. The impliCiT deAl Commissioner perspective from Carolyn Gray, Guardian Media Group – on flexibility I think part time working is a great option – regardless of the connotations of gender or ethnicity – and the fact that it is penalised in terms of pay levels is wrong. Women are a good example, because they still take specific types of jobs because they have a dual role; the role in the workplace and the role in the home – and that’s not just because of childcare; elder care has now become a huge issue. The result is that they have personal circumstances which require flexibility, so more women work part time and part time work is generally less well paid. I still hear the view expressed that part timers are second class citizens: it’s seen as a partial commitment and not quite doing what the rest of us are doing. Job sharing is often seen as a last resort. Yet what’s often lacking in situations like that is simply what’s lacking in the workplace in general – and that’s good, fair management which is capable of making the most of not only a diverse population of people, but a diversity of ways of working. When we train managers we typically don’t equip them to deal with this. Whereas, in fact, workplaces are diverse now already, dealing with different shifts and remote working. This is something that doesn’t just effect women; there’s a feeling amongst all people that work would be more tolerable if there was some flex around it. And, in my experience, most jobs can be done flexibly. I remember when I worked for a large food retailer for a long time in the ‘90s, we talked about management working part time. This was in the early days when people were trying to introduce career breaks, job sharing, and all those sorts of arrangements. The objection made was that you can’t manage a produce department if you’re a part timer, until somebody pointed out that the lengthening of supermarket hours meant that they were going to be required to schedule different department managers in to cover the week anyway. Then there was no leap of imagination required to acknowledge, ‘Why can’t somebody do part time hours in the management structures; it doesn’t have to be 39 hours?’ It was at a time when it was hard to attract high quality management into the industry and we were forced to look at more flexible arrangements. Soon there were part time managers working in every store – and when you thought about it, it made absolute sense. It required going back to basics and looking at what their outputs are, rather than their inputs. The point is you have to be a better manager; you have to ensure that the arrangement works for everyone, but you also have to have the right mindset.Good Work And our Times 59
  • 61. The impliCiT deAlHowever, even with a substantial body of research100 which shows that giving employees moreautonomy and control leads to growth in productivity, the UK trend in the last decade has been movingin the opposite direction. Duncan Gallie and his colleagues find strong evidence of declining “taskdiscretion”.101 Michael White, Stephen Hill and others suggest that while employees may have morefreedom to decide how they deliver their targets, employers now operate more rigorous regimes ofaccountability through sophisticated performance management systems and extensive surveillance.102Both studies show that some workers have less control in their jobs than was the case a decade ago.The growing use of information technology in the workplace is one of the most important ways in whichautonomy has been eroded. Some workers express concern that technology is used as a performancetool which undermines trust. Service engineers in both BT and British Gas, for example, say thattracking devices in their vehicles mean their movements are continuously monitored, and the amountof time they take to travel and complete customer visits is measured in fine detail. As one BT employeeput it: Our cabs are fitted with a ‘tracker’ device. It’s a spy in the cab to see where we are, when we’re on the move, and when we’re not. They won’t trust us to get on and do a job we’ve done well for years.103In sharp contrast, there are instances where employees have been spectacularly liberated through theintroduction of new technology. In 2002 The Work Foundation tracked hundreds of workers at Microsoftin the UK when they were first given access to Smart Phones and to broadband at home. Aside fromtheir general – and not unexpected – excitement about getting access to new kit, and the impact ithad on their ability to check e-mails on the move and work more flexibly, about half of those involvedreported that their productivity had increased by between 50 and 100 per cent. Many also reported thataccess to this technology enhanced their perception of Microsoft as a ‘cool place to work’.So new technology pulls in two directions; sometimes constraining and reducing autonomy, sometimesenabling empowerment and creativity. The key for employers is to consider what the impact of thetechnologies they want to introduce is likely to be for employees, in practice in their working day. Andwhere there already exists a climate of distrust or cynicism, it is reasonable to assume that the newtechnology will be received with distrust by the workforce. In a series of case studies examining howICT is introduced and used in the public sector, the Work Foundation found that sometimes there islittle consultation with staff about these new ways of working.104 Yet when trouble is taken to discussthe commercial rationale of a new system – for example, explaining the introduction of tracking devicesin vans as a way of ensuring full utilisation of the fleet, speedier customer service and competitiveadvantage – it is possible to introduce new technologies into the organisation much more smoothly.105The principle of consultation on major initiatives, often called ‘employee voice’, can relate to formalrepresentation, for example, through trades unions and works councils, or to more informal processeswhereby staff are consulted or involved in decisions about change.106 We know that employees whofeel that they are able to influence important aspects of their working environment are also more likelyto report high levels of job satisfaction and lower levels of sickness absence. For example, in a surveyconducted by The Work Foundation in 2004, one in six employees said that they were very unhappywith their work and, of these, a very large proportion said that they had no influence over the mostcritical elements of their working environment. In contrast, those reporting more influence also reportedhigher satisfaction and better health (see Figure 4).100 van Mierlo H, Rutte C, Vermunt J, Kompier M and Doorewaard J, Individual autonomy in work teams: The role of team autonomy, self-efficacy, and social support, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 15(3), pp 281 – 299, 2006.101 Gallie D et al, Changing Patterns of Task Discretion in Britain, Work Employment and Society, 2004.102 White M, Hill S, Mills C and Smeaton D, Managing to Change? British Workplaces and the Future of Work British Journal of Industrial Relations, 44(2), pp. 374-376, 2006.103 (accessed 5 October, 2010).104 Jones A and Williams L, Public Services and ICT Why ICT ?: The role of ICT in public services, The Work Foundation, 2005.105 Diffley C and Sullivan J, Embracing the Way with New Technology, The Work Foundation, 2003.106 Coats D, Speaking Up!: Voice, Industrial Democracy and Organisational Performance, The Work Foundation, 2004.60 Good Work And our Times
  • 62. The impliCiT deAlFiGure 4 – job inFluenCe And job sATisFACTion60 53 4950 46 4140 36 32 313020 18 14 11 7 10 5 0 0 Pay Hours Working Time off Training Work Autonomy Time Organisation ■ % unhappy no influence ■ % happy high influenceSource: Work and Well Being Survey, The Work Foundation (2004)The UK workforce today is generally more highly educated than previously and more organisations arerecognising the role of dialogue in securing the commitment and support of employees during periodsof uncertainty and change. Giving employees ‘a voice’ is a valuable element in the quality of the implicitdeal between employer and employee.Commissioner, John Hannett, as a union leader, goes further. He positivley engages his members in jointtraining with the employer, in order to establish a shared perspective for future priorities: John Hannett, Usdaw One of the radical things we do when we sign a new agreement with an employer now is to promote joint training. In the past, the trade union would have trained the representatives in grievance, discipline and pay – and the company would have done what it did with its managers separately. Now we’re giving the management an opportunity to talk about the demands of the customer. It gives the union representatives an insight into the business. We’re trying to create an understanding of the pressures on the business, even before there are any tensions or issues. If, though, in the training courses we were to create an army of union reps who felt the business was the enemy, then we would be setting them up for a fall. We would fail as unions because we would not get to the heart of what our members really want, which is to have a wider, more meaningful relationship with their employer. Most employees don’t want a relationship with their employers which is adversarial. When they go into work at that store, they want the local manager to treat them with respect and to feel valued, whatever role they play in the organisation. And they want the union to be experienced enough to be able to articulate the key areas of concern for them, but not in a way that means we’re attacking the business.Good Work And our Times 61
  • 63. The impliCiT deAl As a leader of a trade union, to secure an improved situation, I have to give the employer the confidence that the union doesn’t want the business to fail. That protects my members’ jobs. There will be differences of emphasis, of course, but our starting position should be twofold. First, the business being successful must be the key commitment from the union. Second, the employer needs to trust the trade union to understand that, but equally, as employers, they have to commit to invest the time to understand the dynamics of what the staff want.To generate employee engagement, the mix of all these inter-related factors will vary for differentworkplaces, but the ingredients are likely to be broadly the same. They encompass a sense of trust inthe integrity of the organisation, an alignment of company and personal purpose and goals, training andpersonal development, strong bonds with co-workers and the very nature of the job – itself made up ofa variety of factors, including flexibility, autonomy and having a meaningful voice in the organisation. It isputting them all together creatively which makes a major contribution to employees’ experience of ‘goodwork’. It needs to happen continuously and be manifest consistently through the organisation. That doesnot simply happen spontaneously; it requires skilful management.It is all the more significant, therefore, that a study by the Gallup organisation highlights the gloomy factthat almost two thirds of employees are disengaged. Based on a large sample of the UK workforce,it identified three discrete groups of employees; engaged employees, non-engaged employees andactively disengaged employees.107 The findings indicated the majority (63 per cent) of employees fell into the ‘non-engaged employees’ category. These employees were characterised as being productive in the sense of doing what was asked of them but were not psychologically bonded to the organisation. Furthermore, employees in this category were instrumentally motivated; they could be tempted by job vacancies elsewhere and were responsive to financial incentives, but cynical about higher-order appeals to loyalty.In the light of the goal of the Commission to create more ‘good work’, it gives a feel for the size of thetask in hand. Another big indicator of the challenge is the poor health of the UK workforce. In 2009 thecost of ill health in the UK workforce totalled at least £100 billion – the equivalent of the budget for theNational Health Service.108 It is a major cause for concern not only for employers but for the productivityand competitiveness of the country.The two biggest causes for absence at work are back pain or other musculoskeletal problems, andmental health. At first pass, a plausible response to the issue is to bring in medical expertise to improvethe health of the workforce. Yet, the Boorman Review, along with a number of other studies, has foundthat if employees are asked directly what their employer can do to improve their health, the answer is,‘Treat me like an adult. Tell me what’s going on. Involve me in decisions that affect me and give me workthat is varied and interesting.109’ They think of their well being in terms of doing good work and beingwell managed, rather than in terms of whether there is a gym on site or fruit in the canteen.Looking at the same issue the other way around, there is a lot of evidence which shows that ‘goodwork’ is good for your health. Michael Marmot’s study, Whitehall 2, on health and absence in the civilservice illustrated that an individual’s status relative to others’ in the organisation has a greater impacton their well being than any other factor. He concluded that the essential element of an employee’s wellbeing is having a sense of autonomy and some ability to influence the things around you.110107 Buckingham, M. ‘What a waste’, People Management, 11 October, pp36-39, 2001.108 Black C, Working for a healthier tomorrow, TSO, 2008.109 Boorman S, NHS Health and Well-being, Final Report, November 2009.110 Marmot, M, Status Syndrome, Bloomsbury, 2004.62 Good Work And our Times
  • 64. The impliCiT deAlThe Department of Work and Pensions study by Gordon Waddell and Kim Burton, ‘Is work good foryour health?’ demonstrated that the biggest predictor of early return to work after absence causedby back problems is job satisfaction.111 The Work Foundation has demonstrated the link betweenengagement and well-being in banking; high performing branches had the most engaged employees –and the lowest rate of absence. There is a significant body of evidence on this subject which all comesto similar conclusions: an engaged workforce is more likely to be a healthy workforce.Clare Chapman, Commissioner, oversees the health service workforce and the major programme toimprove well-being: Clare Chapman, National Health Service “My own view is that workplace health is as much a lever of public health as smoking and obesity. The best employers have really understood that and put programmes in place to invest in workplace health in its broadest sense; good jobs, effective HR practices, giving people greater autonomy in their roles. People are waking up to the importance of workplace health. When you understand the issue, the amount of effort that you, as an employer, put into creating ‘good work’ becomes significantly greater. It’s about understanding that ‘good work’ is good for you but, conversely, bad work is bad for you.”The productivity benefits of improving health and well being in the workplace are clear. For example, in2003 the Royal Mail had 16 days of absence per employee each year.112 By 2009 it had been reducedto 10 days, saving £230 million and making 3,600 more staff available each day.113 The initiative in theNational Health Service to tackle the same problem has estimated that reducing absence by a third wouldresult in 15,000 more staff being available for patient care every day. Spelt out simply it looks like commonsense to take the issue seriously. Often, however, employers respond to the symptoms, not the underlyingcauses of absence from work. Committed employees will typically make additional efforts to go to workeven when they feel unwell and, conversely, disengaged employees are less inclined to override illness.The important insight is the chain of effect; good people management creates ’good work’, which leads tocommitted employees, less absence, better productivity and a better customer experience.The role oF FronT line mAnAGersAs has been touched on already in the report, front line and local managers hold the key to building anengaged workforce. The role they play is pivotal because, for most employees, the experience of theorganisation is the experience of the relationship they have with their direct manager.The UK, in general, is not strong on training front line managers – and a lot of the weaknessestrack back to the selection of managers in the first instance. It is well recognised that all too oftenorganisations promote people for their strength in technical or professional skills, rather than formanagement potential and their ability to motivate and engage people. Then they fail to equip or trainpeople to handle the human factors involved in generating engagement.For front line management to deliver effectively they have to have – and be seen to have – themandate from the top. That returns, once again, to the theme of the senior leadership’s commitmentto communicate purpose authentically and set the parameters in which people should operate. Somelarge corporates have taken action to ensure their line managers get the message loud and clear about111 Waddell G and Burton K, Is work good for your health and well-being?, TSO, 2006.112 Marsden, D and Moriconi, S ,The value of rude health. London School of Economics and Political Science, London, 2008.113 Boorman S, NHS Health and Well-being, Final Report, November 2009.Good Work And our Times 63
  • 65. The impliCiT deAl Commissioner perspectives on the importance of front line managers Tracy Clarke, Standard Chartered To my mind the biggest single influence on the quality of work that is within the company’s control – and that can improve or drag on the performance of the business – is the quality of the manager. Why? Because the manager influences the way I feel as an employee every day. An individual at work needs four things: to have a sense that they’re known, their strengths are known – and they have the opportunity to play to those strengths. Second, that there’s somebody who cares about them; they’re not just treated as a robot, only there to deliver the numbers. They need to feel a bit inspired, as well. And they need to know exactly what’s expected of them. It might sound very simple but, when it boils down to it, it’s those four things – and the line manager has the control over all of those four things. To organise the system to deliver that effectively, the first and most important thing you’ve got to do, up front, is select the right people to be managers. Often – and we all know this – people become managers because they’re technically good at something and that’s not necessarily the right thing to do. That’s why at Standard Chartered we select specifically for aptitude to deliver those four things. Obviously, next, ensuring managers have the personal development and skills training they need is a key aspect of it. Then, it matters how you build in reward and recognition. Rewarding managers has to be against a balanced scorecard: of course, as a manager, you’ve got to deliver the results, but because you’re delivering the results through the team, you’ve got to be rewarded for the softer factors as well. A lot of people think that the results and the softer outcomes are mutually exclusive and they’re absolutely not. I’m speaking from experience when I say that because at Standard Chartered we’ve been running engagement surveys for seven years and the data we’re able to mine is very powerful. It has shown us time and time again that the most highly engaged branches have the highest revenue per head, have the lowest attrition and have the lowest incidence of fraud. On any metric you want to look at it, in the most highly engaged branches you see the most effective performance scores – and vice versa, so in the branches with the lowest engagement you will see the lowest scores against the performance metrics. The data is determined by employees answers to a range of twelve questions about the manager, which are very specific. Do you know what’s expected of you at work? Do you have the materials and equipment to do your job? Do you have somebody at work who cares about you? Have you received praise or recognition in the last 7 days? Do you understand the mission and purpose of the company? Those sorts of questions give us an indicator of engagement. If you think about all those questions, who has the biggest influence on all of that? It’s the manager. Who am I going to get praise and recognition from? It’s my manager. Who’s going to ensure that I know what’s expected of me every day? It’s my manager. So all those questions are really about the climate of the team that is influenced by the manager.64 Good Work And our Times
  • 66. The impliCiT deAl Adam Crozier, ITV – formerly Royal Mail Particularly in big organisations, you learn that actually the key positions are the frontline managers. It was clear to me that, to someone who works in a delivery office in Chesterfield, for example, as far as they are concerned, the person who ran the Royal Mail was the guy who ran the delivery office in Chesterfield. Therefore, you’ve got to give these people the ability to get on with the job and make decisions that are right for their team. And you have to give them a chance to find the best way to solve their issues locally in that office; give them guidelines but don’t be overly prescriptive. Because the issues will be different in different parts of the country and different offices, depending on the kind of workforce you have. We used to survey regularly how people in individual offices saw their manager with questions such as, ‘My manager is there when I need him; helps me do what I need to do; helps me make difficult decisions’. And it was always interesting that in those offices where the manager scored high on the various points you would look for in a good manager, you would also find that, from a quality of service point of view and commercially, that office performed really well. This puts a lot of pressure on frontline managers to get that whole conversation right. When change is happening, they really have to have their eyes wide open about what the real issues are; not the ones on the surface, but the ones under the surface. What you discover, of course, is that some managers are more than able to do that and some struggle. So increasingly organisations will have to think about how they improve the skills of frontline managers to handle effectively these things that matter to the people who work for them. Jim McAuslan, BALPA People want to be properly led, they want to believe in their management, to have trust in their management – but often they find it in short supply. They need to believe they have leaders who have vision and morals and are able to execute a business plan – and, at the same time, they want to know that they’ve got a direct manager they can turn to, who they can confide in and will support them. When they’ve got a personal relationship with their line manager – if it’s a good manager – it feels like a better workplace. In all the surveys we’ve done over the years and the disciplinary actions I’ve been involved with, you can see a very interesting contrast: people will say, ‘I am unhappy with management, but I like my manager’. They draw this distinction between how a company is led and directed, and what their line manager does and the sort of personal relationship they have with them. Organisations need both. And that comes down to both the front line management and the senior management having the confidence and skills to do that – and the courage to lead. Leadership is a privilege and we need more of our leaders to appreciate that and use it for good.Good Work And our Times 65
  • 67. The impliCiT deAlwhat is expected. Walmart and Shell are two major corporations which have dismissed managers who,though they might have hit their financial or productivity targets, failed to manage their people accordingto the values and expectations of the business. Indeed, Arie de Geus former head of Shell’s StrategicPlanning Group had a very clear vision of the priorities which managers should have: Why do so many companies die young? Companies die because their managers focus exclusively on producing goods and services and forget that the organization is a community of human beings that is in the business, any business, to stay alive.114Echoing that perspective in a Work Foundation study, an experienced line manager explained hisapproach to team leadership like this: I give them loads of freedom, they know that. If they thought I was checking up on them they would probably be devastated because they’d thought I’d lost some trust, so I’d rather not check up. I’d ask them. So they know very clearly where they stand in terms of this ‘money in the bank’ stuff I call it. What will happen in a long career is two or three times they’ll go off the tracks and they need your understanding. A marriage might break down, or someone’s ill, someone may die, they need some support and understanding. They need to know that someone won’t be looking over their glasses at them whenever they need to have a bit of time off for something. So in return they’ll give you want you need.115A common challenge which comes from employers is that focusing on employee engagement, while nodoubt a worthy aspiration, is a distraction from the greater imperative of delivering ‘the results’ which arewhat make any business successful. Yet there is much evidence that engaged employees do equate toimproved performance. The MacLeod Review116 on employee engagement identified many examples ofthat impact: Gallup in 2006 examined 23,910 business units and compared top quartile and bottom quartile financial performance with engagement scores. They found that: • Those with engagement scores in the bottom quartile averaged 31 – 51 per cent more employee turnover, 51 per cent more inventory shrinkage and 62 per cent more accidents. • Those with engagement scores in the top quartile averaged 12 per cent higher customer advocacy, 18 per cent higher productivity and 12 per cent higher profitability. A second Gallup study of the same year of earnings per share (EPS) growth of 89 organisations found that the EPS growth rate of organisations with engagement scores in the top quartile was 2.6 times that of organisations with below-average engagement scores.Yet, however compelling the case, there are some who have argued that employers’ concern aboutemployee engagement is no more than a cynical conceit: that it is only a set of levers designed tosqueeze yet more effort from their workers.117 Often the language used by businesses – such as referringto the ‘levers’ of engagement – can serve to reinforce the view that the approach is mechanistic and thegoal is simply to ‘sweat the assets’ that their people represent.The counter to the cynical voices is that the outcome of managing the many factors that elicitengagement does, in practice, deliver much of what people say they are looking for in ‘good work’.114 De Geus, A, The Living Company, Nicholas Brealy, London, 1997.115 Tamkin P, Pearson G, Hirsh W and Constable S, Exceeding Expectation: the principles of outstanding leadership, The Work Foundation, 2010.116 MacLeod D and Clarke N, Engaging for Success: Enhancing performance through employee engagement, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, 2008.117 Shuck B and Wollard K, Employee Engagement and HRD: A Seminal Review of the Foundations, HRD Review, 9(1), 89-110, 2010.66 Good Work And our Times
  • 68. The impliCiT deAlPeople was a sense that the enterprise they work in is worthwhile, they want recognition for what theyhave to offer, they want a voice in the organisation, the opportunity to use their discretion and their skills,and to progress in life. Where employees find these opportunities, they more willingly commit to thepurpose of the organisation and more freely exert effort on its behalf.A case study of Sainsbury’s supermarkets neatly brings it together. Research conducted in 100 storesfound that increasing employee commitment and engagement led directly to more positive customersatisfaction and retention – which, in turn, led to improved sales.118 Indeed, across all 100 stores, a 20per cent increase on staff commitment and engagement led to an increase in sales of 9 per cent perstore, per month. When the factors of staff engagement were analysed, by far the strongest amongthem was the behaviour and impact of front-line managers. Belief in the company’s commitment tocustomers, the strength and authenticity of its culture and the value the company placed on staff allscored better if staff had a positive and high-trust relationship with their direct line managers.The importance of this link was much greater than the company had ever imagined. With 80 per centof the impact of corporate messages channelled through the line manager, it over-rode most otherfactors. When employees believed the desire for good customer service was genuine and where thatwas exemplified in the behaviour of the line manager, they were much more likely to demonstrate thatbehaviour themselves. Where confidence in the line manager was low, the chain of causality was brokenand had a directly damaging impact on engagement and performance.The Sainsbury’s example proves the business case for investing in employee engagement, anddemonstrates that front line managers are absolutely central to delivering it. The front line manager actsas the conduit for the values of the organisation and the motivators of performance. Clare Chapman’sexperience reinforces the message: Clare Chapman, National Health Service “Often in life when people succeed or fail, the question arises, ‘Is that about skill or is it about will?’ Usually for me, big performance successes or failures are about the application of will as much as the application of skill. Yet, if you look at most organisations, they tend to have huge machinery focused on building skill. I’d like to see the same amount of enterprise focused on building will. And, coming back to the day-to- day experience at work, it’s that connection to meaning that makes all the difference. You learn very quickly in retail that customer satisfaction is directly influenced by manager satisfaction. Good managers tend to sponsor good service relationships. If people have a poor experience with their manager, it’s reflected in the customer relationship. So, as an employer, you can’t assume that there aren’t consequences to all these things. That’s why when you have committed to building will, at all levels. The customer will feel the effect.”In other words, there is an alignment between the employers’ need for strong business performance andthe employees’ perspective of a good place to work. Expert management of the culture and experienceof the workplace can result in employee engagement which, in turn, provides what employers require –but it may be generated by giving employees what they need: it can be a dual win.118 Barber L, Hayday S and Bevan S, From People to Profits: The HR link in the service-profit chain. Institute for Employment Studies Report 355, Brighton, 1999.Good Work And our Times 67
  • 69. The impliCiT deAlin summAryIt is clear that, for most people, the experience of work is made up of a subtle tapestry of threadswhich cannot easily be disentangled, codified or written down in the contract which employees signup to when they start a job.It is clear too that, if managed well, the desire employees have to find meaning in their work andthe need employers have for employees to commit themselves to the purpose and goals of theorganisation is a potential win-win. Having explored the different dimensions of the implicit deal, wedraw these conclusions. • There is a business case for employers to invest in ensuring their employees are ‘engaged’; it increases productivity and is the basis of a high performing organisation. In other words, it is rewarding for the employer, as well as for the employee. There is no need to trade off one definition of success against the other. Indeed, to do so, is to miss an opportunity. Conversely, disengaged employees do not simply represent the absence of a potential benefit but a disruptive and negative influence on the commitment and productivity of others. • The starting point for engaging employees is making the connection to the purpose of the organisation and their part in it. A set of free-standing HR mechanisms alone cannot deliver the required impact in the absence of that broader strategic context. This reinforces the point (made in the early chapter on Meaning and Purpose) that it is an essential responsibility of leadership to convey that purpose with clarity, consistency and authenticity. • To engage the best efforts of employees, multiple strands of activity have to be orchestrated into a coherent experience – and the way they come together changes dynamically over time. Though the totality may be expressed in abstract sounding words, such as ‘culture’ or ‘values’, the effect is built up of the many real details of the working day – such as the flexibility people have to the honour commitments of their home life or what scope they have to shape the flow of the job they do. So it cannot happen spontaneously; it requires thoughtful and expert management which needs to be led from the top and embedded throughout the organisation. • The definition of leadership in an organisation needs to include front line and local management because, for most employees, they are the face of the organisation. The effectiveness with which these managers are selected and trained is, without doubt, a critical success factor for an organisation, and one that is often overlooked. Front line managers are key to achieving the potential double benefit of improved performance and an engaged workforce who feel, with conviction, that the organisation is a good place to work.68 Good Work And our Times
  • 70. The impliCiT deAl Commissioner perspectives on flexibility Tracy Clarke, Standard Chartered The importance of personal quality of life is much more of a factor for the next generation than it was for baby boomers. We see it all the time. People want to take career breaks, they want sabbaticals and they’d like to come back afterwards. If as a company, you haven’t got the mechanisms in place to enable that, you potentially lose really talented individuals. Similarly, when people get to later stages in their career, if the only option they see is full time work or retirement, then the decision becomes a straightforward one and they leave. Whereas if they saw more flexible options which could enable them to take on a different sort of role – a less pressurised full time role, or a part time role, or even a consulting type of role – they might consider it. On one hand, we’ve got a preponderance of internationally orientated, internationally mobile talent. On the other hand, we’ve got a real scarcity of particular skills and experience. We are going to need different frameworks to accommodate that because, if we don’t create optionality, we won’t be able to hang on to people. All of these factors influence new talent strategies in ways which mean companies will have to become really flexible. Jim McAuslan, BALPA Part of ‘good work’ is the opportunity to try new things, not just being an automaton but being an individual who can express themselves. Part of ‘good work’ is having a good management that knows its stuff, knows its direction, and gives you the right tools to do the job effectively – whether that’s IT or engineering equipment. Its about the flexibility to do the hours that suit the employer but also that suit your life. These are the things that people want. There is a big demand now for flexibility; a big demand for less pressure. It’s interesting that, because of the occupations we represent, we’ve some people who are in the £100k salary range and above. In the new tax regime, they don’t want to earn any more. What they would rather do is reduce their hours, settle for getting paid less, keep more of their time for themselves and have more control over their life. Many of the disputes I get involved with are about people’s working arrangements. ‘When I do work, how hard do I work? Am I profitably engaged when at work or am I sitting around kicking my heels?’ It’s about working to live, not living to work. I don’t think we’re very good at that, as a society, and unions haven’t been very good at it either in the past.Good Work And our Times 69
  • 71. The impliCiT deAl Andy Bond, formerly Asda As far back as the early ‘90s we recognised that the vast majority of the people who are employed, and want to be employed by Asda, are women who are second income earners, at the stage of life when they have young children. So flexibility is a critical issue for us and we’ve been involved in a number of initiatives to design flexibility into the workplace. It will be even more critical in the future because, socially, people are demanding it. If you want to be a place that’s seen as a good place to work and that provides ‘good work’, flexibility will be increasingly important, I think. And it shouldn’t be that flexibility is just reserved for women at a certain life stage; a lot of different demographic groups are looking for more flexibility. John Hannett, Usdaw The lesson I’ve learnt in recent years is that, while pay and differentials will always be a core issue for employees, the big issue I’m coming across more and more is flexibility – which must work for both parties. If you take Usdaw, in the retail sector we now organise for a 7 day, 24 hour sector – not exclusively, but predominantly. Therefore the ability to meet the needs of the employer to maximise staffing and the needs of the employee to meet their social responsibilities – whether that’s caring responsibilities or children at school – means that striking the right balance on flexibility is crucial. Richard Chartres, Bishop of London I don’t believe in the work life balance. I think it’s time that particular way of describing the situation was retired, and that the question of rhythm in life becomes more significant. It isn’t ‘work’ – and ‘life’. It is that you live through your work, but that’s not the only thing in life. It’s part of what distinguishes work from toil. You are responsible to your work. You’ve got a responsibility to your relationships as well. You’ve got a responsibility to your own body. You’ve also got a responsibility to the next generation. I would see it in terms of, ‘What is a human being?’ We’ve got to have a sense of the human being in which work is part of life – and there is an appreciation of rhythm. That goes to the issue of flexibility in the workplace and not living our lives so much in separate compartments. In historical terms it’s astonishing that – even in this country, where the working week is much longer than it is, for instance, in France – there has been an immense change in the proportion of people’s lives taken up with hard and unremitting labour. And this is one of the things to celebrate in our lives today.70 Good Work And our Times
  • 72. WhAT hAppens When Work GoesWhAT hAppens When Work GoesAs the ancient Greeks first taught us, you cannot have a philosophy of life without a philosophy of death.It is our contention that you cannot have a philosophy of good work which does not encompass thereality of having no work.recoGnisinG The reAliTy of job lossRedundancies and even closures are a fact of life in today’s competitive market place. The stark truth isthat employees know this and, if it is to happen to them, what they want from their bosses is straighttalking and fair dealing. Employers know it too, of course, and have to acknowledge the possibility to theirworkforces.The threat is very present today. Redundancies have been growing as employers seek to reduce theirlabour costs or, in more extreme circumstances, cease trading and close down whole workplaces.The UK economy has lost 725,000 jobs in the recession,119 and the Government estimates thatanother 600,000 will be lost as a direct consequence of the cuts in public spending which are beingimplemented during the current Parliament. So the issue punctuates our news bulletins and theconsciousness of many UK employees every day.Meanwhile, we know from many studies that high on the list of what employees say they want from theirwork is job security. People want predictability of income and tenure, and they want the stability thatallows them to develop in their jobs and to grow their skills and their careers. Yet, these days, almosteveryone understands that guarantees of job security are unrealistic – and therefore not credible. So thechallenge is to square this circle. Given the irreconcilable opposites of the desire for job security and thereality of job loss, how can the situation be handled as well as possible?Emotions run high when people are losing their jobs. The very act of making people redundant canappear to negate every effort to build a culture of good work. Textbooks on redundancy tell us that,technically, it is posts that are made redundant; not people. The theory is that if an organisation needs toreduce its labour costs and therefore the number of posts it has, the people in these posts have to moveon, but no blame should attach to them; they shouldn’t feel bad about it or any less of a person as aresult. In practice, of course, that is not how it is experienced. For the employee, the dominant feeling isoften a combination of anger, rejection and emptiness. The personal consequences can be devastating,as illustrated by the reflections of former MG Rover workers made redundant by the closure of theLongbridge plant in the West Midlands: It’s been a stressful time. It’s not a good environment to live in. There’s a feeling of loss… people have been here so long at Rover. You feel this big emptiness, it feels like your heart has been ripped out and there’s nothing there anymore. Me and my wife have a lot of rows over it and we nearly split up. I was like a bear with a sore head. We had to use our IVF savings to keep the house.120Not only does the direct experience of job loss feel like being discarded, for many workers it seems thatthe trust between an employee and their immediate manager has been violated and that employers justwant their staff to be flexible, hard-working, committed – and disposable. It can make it seem as though119 Office of National Statistics, 2010.120 Armstrong K, Life After Rover, The Work Foundation, 2006.Good Work And our Times 71
  • 73. WhAT hAppens When Work Goesthe employer’s previous proud claims about valuing the contribution of people and caring about the well-being of staff were nothing but a sham. For managers, too, who have to deliver the news about job lossthere are strong emotions; guilt and often extreme anxiety. As one manager told the Guardian recently: Even when you’re clear that what you are doing has a higher purpose – that you’re sacking 10 to save 90 – knowing some people are not going to get another job makes it all so much worse. One of the hardest things is that you have no idea how the person will react, and that can be incredibly stressful. What you are communicating is on the level of bereavement and sometimes it’s a bit like Russian roulette: people can be incredibly aggressive or they can’t stop crying.Sometimes the shock of job loss, and the anger and resentment it causes, spill over to personal attackson managers: People focus their anger on you as a person, even though often you’re just the messenger. The worst was coming out into a pitch-black car park to find that my tyres had been slashed. 121One of the most vivid ways to understand what work means in life is through the experience of peoplewho don’t have it. In her famous study, Marie Jahoda documented the affects of the loss of work on thepeople of Marienthal, a village not far from Vienna, when the main factory closed down during the greatdepression of the early 1930s. Not only did poverty increase, but joblessness carried a significant andconsistent psychological burden. Women complained that formerly energetic men took extraordinaryamounts of time to accomplish what had previously been simple tasks. They also spent less timeenjoying their hobbies: library attendance decreased by a third and clubs closed down. The quality offamily life declined and what little money was available was wasted on trinkets rather than necessities.The reason, argued Jahoda, was that work provided people with a fundamental ‘sense of reality’ whichcould not be obtained through any other activity or institution. First and foremost individuals work to earna living – the manifest function of work – but there are also five latent functions, the removal of whichJahoda believed causes distress. She says people “have deep seated needs for structuring their timeuse and perspective, for enlarging their social horizon, for participating in collective enterprises wherethey can feel useful, for knowing they have a recognized place in society, and for being active.122”Her study demonstrated the profound significance of work for personal effectiveness and social identity,as well as for communities more broadly. So not only is unemployment problematic because it entails aloss of income, but it is itself a cause of personal and social malaise.Similar effects have been experienced in the UK over the past 40 years where whole industries havedeclined and mass unemployment hit communities in towns and cities where almost all direct andindirect employment were dependent on the existence and viability of a coal mine, a ship yard or asteel plant. South Wales, parts of Scotland, Yorkshire, the North-East of England and parts of the EastMidlands are among the regions which suffered devastating job losses. In many areas, even 20 or 30years later, unemployment remains comparatively high, the proportion of men over 50 years old onincapacity benefit is above the national average – and there are big concentrations of households wherenobody has a job and intergenerational unemployment is at its highest.At the London School of Economics (LSE), Lord Layard, who is well known for his recent research onhappiness and well-being, and their economic and social consequences, has some chilling reflectionson the impact of job loss:121 Redundancy: What’s it like to be the bearer of bad news? The Guardian, 19 March, 2009.122 Jahoda M, Lazarfeld F, Zeisel H. Marienthal: The Sociography of an Unemployed Community, 1984.72 Good Work And our Times
  • 74. WhAT hAppens When Work Goes When a person becomes unemployed his welfare falls for two reasons – first the loss of income, and second the loss of self-respect and sense of significance (the psychic loss). The pain caused by the loss of self-respect is (we find) at least as great as the pain which a person would feel if he lost half his income. So unemployment hits with a double whammy – the loss of the income hurts, but so does the loss of self-respect. That is why it is so devastating and we would much prefer it if people were in work.123The experience of Commissioner, Richard Chartres, of working in London’s East End with people whoare long term unemployed reinforces this view of the debilitating personal consequences of long termunemployment: Richard Chartres, Bishop of London Lack of employment leads very rapidly to lack of confidence. It happens after a comparatively short time of unemployment and rebuff, which leads to a loss of meaning and so a loss of dignity. And if you’ve never tried to work with people who are radically lacking in confidence, you don’t realise what a disability it is. In fact, you think it’s only a matter of a bit more money, a few more opportunities. Nonsense. The demotivation that occurs results in a very radical detachment which is extraordinarily difficult to overcome. Our employment projects in the East End were effective, of course, because they weren’t Government agencies offering opportunities – though those things are indispensible as well. They were neighbours coming round and dragging you off your couch where you were watching daytime TV. There is a galvanising, motivating force that comes from the respect or the encouragement of your neighbours and your peers at every level, which we found very difficult to achieve because today we’re so much in atomised units, there isn’t a community to appeal to. In the city I’ve seen a lot of ‘letting people go’. Managers talk to me about how agonising it is to make people redundant and I’m not cynical about that. But then, of course, those people are cleared out of the organisation remarkably quickly and there is no continuing responsibility for them. They disappear from your screen, they become invisible. In society, who picks up that responsibility? I believe this is one of the reasons why people no longer feel the kind of loyalty they used to and have a consumerist idea about what they’re going to get out of any contract. Because when they are ‘let go’, to them it means that the whole record, the whole narrative has been thrown into the dustbin.In the UK we have 15 per cent – about 3 million – households where no one of working age is working. Interms of welfare benefits, the National Audit Office (NAO) estimates the cost at £12.7 billion a year. Evenwhen employment rates in the UK were very high, workless households remained a stubbornly intractableproblem, evidently resistant to efforts to bring about improvements. As the NAO report points out, thehard core of long term unemployment remains intractable: …the greatest reduction [in unemployment] has been in households where individuals are actively looking for work, and where there are few barriers to work. Today, the households where no one is working are likely to be households where people have been dependent on benefits for a long period and where people have multiple disadvantages or barriers to work.124123 Layard R. Good Jobs and Bad Jobs. London School of Economics, 2004.124 Helping People from Workless Households into Work, National Audit Office, 2007.Good Work And our Times 73
  • 75. WhAT hAppens When Work GoesA real challenge with workless households is that considerable effort is necessary to provide people whomay not be ‘job ready’ with the support to overcome skills, health or confidence barriers before theycan re-enter the labour market. And there is evidence that tackling the needs of just one member of thefamily is typically not enough to help everyone in it to break free from the inertia that can grip those notin the habit of working.125 A culture develops in which there is no expectation of, or aspiration to, workhanded down through generations. So to shift the reality in these entrenched circumstances is likely torequire public policy to take a rounded view of the family and community context of unemployment, andfor the public and private sectors to work together.A number of companies have schemes through which they engage with people who are long termunemployed or, what are often called, ‘hard to reach’ groups in today’s labour market; for example,National Power working with ex-offenders or Barclays engaging with homeless people. Marks andSpencer’s programme, Marks and Start, launched in 2004, is designed to help people who face barriersto finding and keeping work. In preparation for the launch of the programme, The Work Foundationconducted an evaluation of the pilot scheme126 which involved 600 placements in stores around the UK,providing structured work experience for, among others, homeless people and those with disabilities. Atleast a third of participants secured sustained work as a result – though many of those who received joboffers from M&S were genuinely shocked at the positive outcome: Marks and Spencer approached me after the two week programme to see if I would be interested in a job. I couldn’t believe my luck. I now have a reason to get up in the mornings and can plan a future for myself, for the first time in three years. I was really surprised when they [M&S] called and I said ‘Yes’ straight away. It feels like I have a new life now, as since the placement we have moved into a lovely new home with friendly neighbours. It was hard to live in the hostel because a lot of the residents had drink problems and it was a bad influence for my son (11). I am very happy to be working at such a big company. I was so nervous during my placement and kept getting my security swipe card mixed up and couldn’t open the doors, but now I know my way around and don’t have any problems.One notable feature of the scheme is that existing M&S staff are enlisted and trained as ‘buddies’ to theparticipants, providing close support and ‘hands-on’ coaching to help them adjust to the routines anddisciplines of work. Talking to the M&S ‘buddies’, it emerged that an additional benefit of the schemewas that taking on this mentoring role had given them a sense of satisfaction. An in-store HR Managersaid: The buddies were positive about how they felt about it and positive about Marks & Spencer. They said that they were proud to work for this company.As one of the ‘buddies’ said: …coming into work today I knew I did something good.Inevitably, such programmes do not have a hundred per cent success rate. Yet, the businesses becomeadept at maximising the chances of a positive outcome and the success stories all illustrate the sameprinciples; the transformative power in an individual’s life of rediscovering self-respect and a place insociety through the opportunity to work – and the positive motivational effect on staff of knowing thatthey have contributed to a wider social good.125 Sinclair A, 0-5: How Small Children Make a Big Difference, Provocation Series Volume 3 Number 1, The Work Foundation, 2007.126 Jones A, Nathan M and Westwood A, Marks and Start: Opening the door to employment? The Work Foundation, 2004.74 Good Work And our Times
  • 76. WhAT hAppens When Work GoesSo the stakes are high indeed. When work goes what is lost is not just income security, or even theself-respect which goes with the ability to pay one’s way in the world, but also personal confidence andeffectiveness, family stability and community resilience. Where mass unemployment takes hold, it has animmediate impact but its effect also lasts long into the future. People and communities become isolated,and local and national economies are damaged.collAborATive responses To The doWnTurnWith an understanding born of previous tough experience of downturns, one of the most distinctivefeatures of the recent recession in the UK is how employers and employees worked together to createnew approaches to the challenge.In particular, there was a growth in the number of businesses adopting short-time working arrangementsor temporary lay-offs which provided a ‘buffer’ between a reduction in demand for products andservices and the likelihood of job-losses. Many of these firms are have geared back up again astentative signs of recovery begin and, having hunkered down during the worse months of the recession,employees are being re-employed on their previous terms.The Honda plant in Swindon has been a good example of this kind of cooperation. It also illustrates thepragmatism which is needed to confront a difficult business climate. With the collapse in demand forcars, Honda decided that the plant should close for four months in January 2009 and the managemententered into a dialogue with the union about the future of the business and how best to tackle thedownturn. Together they determined that where possible people should take voluntary redundancy and1,300 workers took advantage of the scheme. The remaining 3,400 agreed to a three per cent pay cutfor 10 months and managers reduced their pay by five per cent. In addition, for the period of closure,employees received full pay for two months followed by two months on 60 per cent of their earnings.Training and up-skilling programmes played an important part in the package offered to employees.During the closure the company carried out extensive maintenance work, the production lines werestripped down and rebuilt, and the entire plant was redecorated, wherever possible using existingemployees who had the relevant specialist skills or training.On returning to work four months later, after a stretch away, employees readily acknowledged thebenefits of the innovative solution – and of the experience of being back in work: Taking a 3% pay cut is not a big deal, it could have been worse. In Japan they are having to take 10%. Everybody is glad to be back because four months off is a long time and there’s only so much golf you can play.127 I’m pleased to be back at work and back into a routine. I have painted and decorated the whole house and kept the wife happy by doing all those jobs I never got around to doing. There are people who took the redundancy money and are still out of work. At least we have a job.128The business had consciously managed the crisis to turn a negative into a positive. It is a vivid exampleof the principles of ‘good work’ in action – even in adversity. At a critical time for the company, theemployees had played a direct part in decisions about running the plant, rather than being instrumentsof the plant. The same approach has been repeated recently, in response to continuing marketuncertainty. They have demonstrated to themselves that they can work together to find innovativeapproaches to challenges, setting out to create mutually advantageous solutions, rather than theprevious win:lose approaches to downturns.127 Honda’s Swindon factory reopens, The Guardian, 2 June 2009.128 Op. Cit.Good Work And our Times 75
  • 77. WhAT hAppens When Work GoesHonda was not an isolated example. Across the UK a considerable number of businesses – many inthe manufacturing and automotive sectors – adopted similar approaches, frequently in concert withemployees and their unions. The list below highlights some other examples, including initiatives taken bya number of smaller firms, where short term working enabled people to stay in work for the long termand the business to return to full power quickly following recession: uk exAmples of shorT-Time WorkinG129 LDV: Dec 2007; Hundreds of workers at Birmingham van-maker learn of new three-day week. Lawson and Heaton: Apr 2008; 350 put on three-day week after closure of company’s Birmingham section. Komatsu: Jun 2008; Engineering giant goes to a three-day week. Bentley Motors: Sept 2008; Workers at luxury car firm’s Crewe plant put on a three-day week. Ford: Oct 2008; More than 1,000 workers on a four-day week at the Transit plant in Southampton. Nissan: Oct 2008; Sunderland car-maker goes on three-day week. Kenneth MacKenzie Ltd: Oct 2008; Workers on Stornoway told they will be working from Mon to Wed. Leoni Temco: Nov 2008; Staff at the Gloucestershire wiremakers vote for a three-day week after nearby Lydney Building Concepts goes to two days. HJ Berry: Nov 2008; Workers at Lancashire chair-maker back plans for a three-day week. Hawick Knitwear: Dec 2008; 200 workers agree to three-day week. FT: Dec 2008; Staff offered three-day week to avoid cuts. Arntz Belting: Jan 2009; Londonderry fan belt firm moves to a three-day week. Holden Aluminium Technologies: Jan 2009; Hereford firm cuts week to three days. JCB: January 2009; Employees vote for a 4-day week. TRW Automotive: Jan 2009; More than 100 in Pontypool on a three-day week.In some of those instances, such as JCB, the action was determined with the participation ofemployees. In others, the approach was more transactional; a practical management solution to apressing problem. Either way, the action ameliorated the prospect of mass redundancy.Other business sectors devised their own approaches to what came to be called ‘job hoarding’. Inprofessional services, for instance, KPMG, was the first of the ‘big four’ global accountancy firmsto design such a scheme for its 11,000 British employees. It was decided to change the terms andconditions of staff employment contracts on a voluntary basis and employees who agreed to the changecould either work a four day week or take a four to twelve week sabbatical on 30 per cent of their pay.The change in conditions was planned to last 18 months and, for an individual, the maximum salary lossin one year was capped at 20 percent. Where in Honda the time away from the plant had an emphasison training and skills, in KPMG a sophisticated volunteering programme was developed, enablingemployees to be active in the community, gaining soft skills which helped their personal development inthe process.130The end result of such schemes protected jobs for the long term in a more effective way than whattypically happened in the US, where there was little attempt to find different and less devastating129 Rise of short-time working: Stuck in a very deep hole... and desperate for help to dig them out, The Independent on Sunday, 25 January 2009.130 Good Work And our Times
  • 78. WhAT hAppens When Work Goesapproaches to mitigate the impacts of job losses caused by economic downturn. Germany, Holland,France and Italy are all countries which have schemes in place where the governments subsidise thepay of employees on short-time working. The schemes vary in each country, but the principle is thataction is taken at the level of the firm, but supported by the state. The German state, for example,pays 60 per cent of the net pay of workers for the days laid off due to short-time working – known asKurzarbeit. The scheme used to pay out for just six months but was extended to 18 months. However,often, a condition for beneficiaries of the scheme is that they are required to undertake training activitiesduring the non-working time.There is consensus that economic recovery is going to be slow. Nevertheless, in the UK theimpact on employment, to date at least, has been less severe than originally anticipated. Atthe start, the expectations from employer organisations, such as the CBI, CIPD and British Chambersof Commerce, was that unemployment numbers in the private sector would rise to over 3 million. Inpractice, it has been less than that, reaching so far to around 2.5 million, in great part through thenumber of organisations that created ‘job hoarding’ schemes of different kinds.Perhaps, the most compelling conclusion from this way of responding to the threat of job loss today isthe demonstration that a combination of imagination and pragmatism can bring about real solutions todifficult problems. These businesses – and their employees – have demonstrated that, in straightenedtimes, they can join together to arrive at workable solutions which are based on realism and consentrather than distrust and conflict.The public sector is now braced for the challenge of large scale redundancies with significant costreductions and hundreds of thousands of jobs due to be lost during the next few years. There may belessons to be drawn from the approaches developed in the private sector. First, though, it is important torecognise the differences. To start with, the public sector has much higher levels of union membershipand, in places, a stronger sense of suspicion about the motives behind the cuts in services and jobs.For many workers, the public sector ethos and strong attachment to the social meaning and purposeof their work produces a heightened concern about the effects of cuts on the delivery of services to thepublic. Also, in the private sector companies are able to contract temporarily in response to a precipitousdrop in demand which they expect to be reversed in time. In the public sector, the issue is not a drop indemand for services, but rather be a dramatic reduction in funding with no signs that it will be reversedany time soon. This means that seeking temporary shelter – for example, through short-time working –while the storm passes is not a viable option.Nonetheless, the public sector does have opportunities to think laterally about the way it accommodatesthe employment consequences of austerity. The NHS is set on a course to achieve £20 billion of savingsover the next four years, and is taking steps to minimise job losses. In parts of the country, NHS staff arebeing encouraged to consider redeployment and, in some cases, retraining so as to retain employmentas many services are moved from acute to primary care settings. This has meant devising an approachto ‘employment security’ – rather than ‘job security’ – which has an explicit quid pro quo at its centre:if the employee is flexible about how they are deployed in order to support the changing patternsof service delivery, the NHS will guarantee employment. There is already a framework in place forresponding creatively to the need to change, through the NHS Constitution131 which provides pledges tostaff about how they can be expect to be treated during a period of change, and the Social PartnershipForum132 which is a mechanism for constructive dialogue with health sector unions.This approach may be difficult to emulate in other parts of the public sector. And a real and currentconcern is that, in parts of the UK where there is historic structural unemployment, public sector jobshave – in part at least – filled the employment gap for at least a decade. With the scale of cuts expectedin the public sector, it is unlikely that the private sector can make up this deficit. In a recent analysis ofthis problem in the Midlands, the Work Foundation highlighted that:131 (accessed 18 August 2010).132 (accessed 18 August 2010).Good Work And our Times 77
  • 79. WhAT hAppens When Work Goes Commissioner perspective from Jim McAuslan, BALPA – on getting people back to work During the last two years, because of the financial crisis, the sort of discussion generated with employers and management was painfully creative. As a union officer, there was a new way of doing business, of dealing with employers and dealing with workforces. A much more sober approach to problems, more sharing of problems, more consultation, more openness about the state of business between the employer and the employee. We’ve done a lot of that during the downturn. We’ve looked at how can we share the work out more evenly to keep people in work, how can we help secure new business as a way of protecting jobs? Considering redundancy was a very much the last resort. In this union we set up a programme we called Rising to the Challenge, made up of four key elements. Step 1, we wanted to pressure test the employer on the realities of whether they were facing financial meltdown – and we brought in external help, corporate financiers, to look at businesses to see how they were operating. Step 2 was to look at how we could save jobs; helping people look for work elsewhere, perhaps sharing out the available work. Or other options, such as a temporary pay cut as a way of making the books balance and keeping people in jobs. Step 3 was, if people have to go, how that can be done fairly and effectively. That’s down to what the company’s redundancy procedures are – but also includes possibilities, like secondments elsewhere – maybe, with the chance to come back to the employer later. Then Step 4 was that when people do go, how can we as an association help them find new jobs, either in this country or even elsewhere? My concern is that as we stabilise, we revert to UK-type – being on opposite sides of this trench. Perhaps, it’s part of the UK psyche that people like to have divides. Employees like to know who the employer is ‘You’re the boss and I’m the other side of that divide’. It’s been a real challenge trying to bridge that. Many employers are not even trying really to get the employees to come across the trench to join them in their venture. Sometimes I struggle to find examples of real engagement. My fear now is that we lose the impetus we had to do things differently. In some ways, it’s already moving back towards how things have always been. That would be like going back in time – and it would be a huge shame.78 Good Work And our Times
  • 80. WhAT hAppens When Work Goes “Despite the favourable macroeconomic circumstances, the number of jobs in the private sector in the West Midlands fell by 64,800 in real terms between 1998 and 2008 whilst 70.8% of the 142,800 new jobs created in the East Midlands were in publicly funded activities. At local level the picture can be even more severe, for example the number of jobs available in Stoke-on-Trent fell by 16,900 in real terms with a 3,700 net increase in public sector jobs being offset by the net loss of 20,600 private sector jobs over the last decade. In this context, it would be unreasonable to expect private enterprise to be as strong in the coming decade as the 1992 – 1997 recovery might indicate.” 133So there is a real risk that worklessness will return to the high levels that blighted these regions in thepast. Nevertheless, there are now many examples of the new trend of employers and staff across theeconomy, in both the private and public sector, seeking and finding imaginative ways to help mitigatesome of the impact of jobs going, while reshaping their organisations to fit the new circumstances inwhich they expect to be operating in the future. As Peter Housden, Good Work Commissioner andPermanent Secretary for the Scottish Government, says: Peter Housden, Scottish Government “We are going to have to get good at this. Doing it with dignity and managing it well. It has to become an explicit objective. You’ve got to tell people the truth and help them handle the consequences.”neW prAcTices And neW perspecTives on mAnAGinG redundAncyStepping back from the impact of the downturn, it is important to note that these new approaches havedeveloped out of a growing trend in major companies to reshape established HR practices, which havebeen designed to actively support employees faced with redundancy at any time in the economic cycle.BT, for example, has developed innovative schemes which have become mainstream to their operations.The company has undergone major restructuring programmes over the past decade, shedding manythousands of jobs as a consequence, with minimal disruption or dispute.As part of their whole approach to people management, the business has set up a career ‘TransitionCentre’ (the BTTC), with the backing of the unions, which assists employees who are being redeployedwhich how to go about seeking a new role. There are a number of ‘Transition Managers’ on hand toconduct skills analysis, help prepare CVs and provide interview experience. The BTTC also provideslearning and development support to help employees tackle skills gaps.In a letter to staff in May 2009 announcing 15,000 redundancies, the CEO Ian Livingston outlined apackage which emphasised the range of support available to help affected employees find other roles: A number of our people are likely to become surplus and we are taking the following actions to help deal with this. We will: • Stop most external recruitment, making sure that internal candidates are considered, with people in the BTTC given first priority on new roles. • Help people in the BTTC to find external secondments. For example, we are working with Kelly Outsourcing and Consulting Group (a UK recruitment business) to place people with other organisations. Our people will experience different environments, hopefully learn new skills, while retaining their job with BT. • Introduce initiatives into appropriate areas of the business to reduce our labour costs; such as secondments, sabbaticals and part-time working.133 Brinkley I, Levy C and Morris K, The Jobs Gap, The Work Foundation 2010.Good Work And our Times 79
  • 81. WhAT hAppens When Work Goes Commissioner perspective from Adam Crozier, ITV – on managing redundancy Because organisations often do have to go through periods of change – which sometimes involves reducing and sometimes increasing the workforce – that’s part of life. Nowadays people understand that. The important thing though is in how you do it. In Royal Mail, we reduced the workforce by nearly 60,000 people and, I think, even the tough unions would say that that was actually handled pretty well, by and large. Obviously, you have to set up the right system to make sure any compensation payments are fair and based on what people have done in the organisation in their time there. You’ve got to ensure that how you pick the ones who go is seen to be fair and transparent. Then, you have to handle the process reasonably and sensitively – over a period of time that allows people to adapt. It goes back to the same principles as running the business successfully; it’s the ability of the local manager to manage things in a reasonable and fair way. Plus we worked very hard at making it voluntary as much as possible. We had only one compulsory redundancy out of 60,000 and that was an important part of the journey. We went to enormous lengths to prepare people for what was coming next, right through from managerial to the frontline level, including working with outside bodies to help them prepare CVs and look for other work. People tend to forget too that the way you do these things has an impact on those people who stay with the organisation – because employees want to see their colleagues treated reasonably and well and, if they see that, it gives them comfort that they’re working for the right kind of organisation.80 Good Work And our Times
  • 82. WhAT hAppens When Work Goes Commissioner perspective from Clare Chapman, National Health Service – on offering people options There was a situation in my past where I was responsible for shutting down a facility, where we were able to make an offer to staff that anyone who wanted to stay within the company could, but they would have to move location. We said to people, you can stay employed, but your side of the deal is that you have to be flexible and move to where the work is. What we were offering people was a choice. And I think it’s so much easier for someone to be in a situation where they’re choosing between options, as opposed to having no alternative. That’s not always possible, of course, but in that instance it was – and it really helped people to be able to make a deliberate choice about whether they wanted to stay or go. It’s those types of practices which help to show people that the organisation is looking out for their interests, rather than just efficiently running a redundancy programme. In the Health Service, now, we’ve got a social partnership arrangement in the Health Service with our twenty plus trade union colleagues. As part of that, we can look at what practices would be most helpful in retaining people and skills where they’re most needed. A good example was when, a short time ago, we had physiotherapists coming out of training with insufficient roles for them to go to. Through the Social Partnership Forum, we designed an arrangement – of pooling, work experience and so on – to try and keep those people within the system until the roles came up. It showed that, rather than taking a simple mechanistic approach to the problem of labour shortage or labour over supply, it was possible to recognise we had an asset to be valued and protected. That’s a completely different mind-set, which means you’re more likely to look for different ways of keeping people and skill within the public sector. With the current plans now for restructuring right across the Health Service, we’re operating an HR framework that aims to facilitate, as much as possible, people moving between roles, helping them go to where the opportunities are, either within a geography or within the field they’re working in.Good Work And our Times 81
  • 83. WhAT hAppens When Work Goes • Continue to provide appropriate voluntary leaver packages where we have surplus people. Of course, there will always be areas of the business where jobs will increase – for example, 1,000 jobs are required for our plans to bring fibre to the UK.134Staying at the forefront of high-tech innovation is vital to BT’s competitiveness. Therefore, part of themotivation for their systematic and flexible approaches to redeployment is a desire not to lose key skillswhich the firm has invested in over many years – and prevent them migrating to a competitor. The BTapproach is an illustration that job loss – while inevitably painful – can be managed transparently andthoughtfully for both the business and the individuals by establishing practices which support relativelyrapid re-employment for people, even if they require some re-skilling in the process.The BT story also highlights a contemporary trend towards ‘transitional’ unemployment, as distinct from‘structural’ unemployment. As discussed earlier, during the 1960s and 1970s the UK was hit by sector-wide shocks of large scale redundancies which – for whole communities, as well as individuals – werehard to recover from. The recent recession has seen something of a return to structural unemploymentwith whole sectors, like construction, experiencing traumatic reductions in demand. But it would beinaccurate to characterise all job loss as having this long term scarring effect. Most large employersknow that, while they might have long service in a proportion of their workforce they also have asignificant amount of ‘churn’ – often among younger or short-service staff, especially when the labourmarket is buoyant. Even during periods of high unemployment there is always a proportion of theworkforce who, despite losing their jobs, find work again relatively quickly.This ‘frictional’ or ‘transitional’ unemployment can be influenced by how flexible and skilled the workforceis, and the extent to which new jobs are being created in emerging or more resilient sectors. This effectis evident in the national picture, as Figure 5 shows, with the proportion of UK workers between 2004and 2010 who found news jobs within three months of facing redundancy.fiGure 5 – proporTion of Workers GAininG re-employmenT WiThin 3 monThs of job loss Re-employment Rates 2004-201060. 0.0 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010Source: Labour Force Survey, 2010134 (Accessed 20 August 2010).82 Good Work And our Times
  • 84. WhAT hAppens When Work GoesWhile this number was dented during the recession, it is still the case that almost a third of workerswho experience redundancy get new jobs within three months. Any significant rise in this proportion, ofcourse, requires an increase in the rate at which jobs are created. But it can also be helped by workerswho are flexible about the kind of work they are prepared to take on and their willingness to acquire newskills. The key point is that notions that job loss condemns everyone to the scrap heap of the labourmarket, and that unemployment is a barren and featureless desert from which there is no return, areoutmoded and inaccurate.The GroWinG imporTAnce of employAbiliTyWe’ve seen that, in today’s world, employers cannot guarantee security of employment. They can,however, actively support employability. That means equipping their employees with skills andcapabilities that represent a personal asset and help to make them employable in the broader labourmarket in the future. Arguably, that has the benefit of making them more desirable employees to theircurrent employers also.It might be imagined that skills which enable workers to be competent, adaptable and able to deploytheir skills in a number of different contexts and in different jobs would be regarded as emblematic of‘good work’. Yet for a long time the term ‘employability’ was regarded with cynicism by many workersand their unions, because it was felt to be a sop, diverting attention from the real issue of preserving jobsecurity. In 1999 research on the role of employers in helping deliver greater employability found that: …relatively few go far beyond exhortation. Where they do, policies tend to: focus on a few staff groups and ignore the workforce as a whole; smack of opportunism rather than deliberate strategy; and re-package existing career or development practices, rather than address the emerging needs of their workforce.135But increasingly it has become seen as one of the ways in which individuals can take some control overtheir destiny in a dynamic labour market – and an important objective of UK education and training policy.Some employers have made a real investment in employability, often in the face of adversity. Duringthe decline of the coal and steel industries in the 1970s and 1980s, considerable efforts were made toretrain displaced workers and to help them find new employment opportunities. British Coal Enterprises(BCE), for example, was established in 1984 as a subsidiary of the state-owned coal corporation,British Coal, after a series of mine closures. Its purpose was to bring employment opportunities tothe traditional coal mining areas across the country. By 1996, it had helped create over 130,000 jobopportunities and its counselling service had helped more than 60,000 former miners into new jobs.Over the following 12 years, BCE’s Business Funding division committed £101 million to 5,300 projects,helping to create 54,000 new jobs.136Over the years, many other businesses and sectors, such as British Steel, in the steel industry; GlaxoSmithKline, in pharmaceuticals – and as we have seen – BT, in telecoms; and MG Rover, in automotive,have invested energy in improving the employability of their staff.Today PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) equips hundreds of young people for accountancy rolesand – although the firm ‘cherry-picks’ the best of its large in-take of graduate trainees – it does so inthe full knowledge that it is acting as a supplier of skilled labour to many hundreds, mostly, of smallorganisations across the UK. In 2005 almost 3,000 of PwC’s current staff and former staff were surveyedby The Work Foundation137 to examine the factors affecting their career choices. Those who had left thefirm were strongly of the view that the experience and transferable skills they had acquired at PwC hadhelped their career.135 Tamkin P and Hillage J, Employability and Employers: the missing piece of the jigsaw, Report 361, Institute for Employment Studies, 1999.136 Bevan S, Armstrong K and Williams L, Shall I Stay or Shall I Go?, The Work Foundation, 2005.Good Work And our Times 83
  • 85. WhAT hAppens When Work GoesThere has been an increase, in recent years, in vocational qualifications held in the workplace, throughNVQs, BTEC and other accredited courses. However there is still much to do to persuade employers– and indeed employees – to increase training opportunities. Projections from the UK Commission ofEducation and Skills (UKCES) on the level of skills that will be demanded in the workplace in the futurepresents a significant challenge which is recognised by the government and employers. Yet, a recentreview of employability policy and practice by the UKCES138 found that many employers still need tocommit to action on the issue. As well as technical and job specific skills, the report argued that animportant part of the issue is raising general workplace skills: Being able to work in a team, communicate clearly, listen well, be interested and keen to learn, take criticism, solve problems, read, write and add. These employability skills are the lubricant of our increasingly complex and interconnected workplace.The scale of the skills challenge in the UK is such that there is bound to be on-going debate aboutwhere the responsibility lies to pay for what is needed. And, in a world where increasingly skills will bethe passport to sustainable employment, the answer will require a mix of government, employer andindividual funding models. Government benefits are likely to be conditional on individual’s preparednessto acquire skills. Companies can provide training and skills that both serve their business needs and offertheir employees a career asset. Individuals may need to make an investment themselves, and that trend isalready evident through people taking basic literacy qualifications, unpaid internships or self-funded MBAs.‘Flexicurity’ is a framework that aims to balance flexibility for workers and security for employers in thelabour market in Europe which has been at the heart of developing models of social protection and labourlaw for a decade.139 At its core is the idea that ease of hire and fire for employers must be matched byhigh benefits and investment in programmes which give unemployed workers the skills they need to findnew work. Its effectiveness is based on many attractive social elements, including well set up life-longlearning systems, social security payments which take into account family requirements for childcare anda highly developed industrial relations dialogue. The framework is well established in Denmark – thoughit has naturally been under strain during the recent recessionary period. However it fares during thenext few years and whatever it tells us about the long term viability of the Flexicurity model specifically, itprovides a thought-provoking, real life demonstration that it is possible to conceive of new paradigms andmutually beneficial approaches to handling the challenge of employment mobility and skills acquisition.In recent years, many more trades unions in the UK have supported employability efforts in the workplace.There are now over 26,000 Union Learning Reps who have helped hundreds of thousands of workersthrough lifelong learning projects in areas such as IT, basic literacy and health and safety. Many of theseinitiatives are organised jointly between employers and unions and are intended to help workers to developskills which will enhance their employability for the long terms and during times of change.A series of initiatives between Boots and the retail workers union, Usdaw, to encourage workersto return to learning is one of those. In 2006 Boots decided to restructure its national distributionnetwork to improve the consistency and efficiency of the operations. The project secured 1,400 jobsin Nottingham, but meant a loss of jobs across the country. Usdaw was clear about the rationale forworking in cooperation with the business to support their members: Boots recognised that it needed to work with Usdaw to make the best of a bad situation. We too, in our turn, recognised that working jointly with the company was the best way to secure our members’ future.Union Learning Reps were encouraged to motivate colleagues to take advantage of learningopportunities, using programmes such as Skills for Life – a national strategy for improving adult literacy138 UKCES, The Employability Challenge, 2009.139 Andersen T and Svarer M, Flexicurity in Denmark, 2008. Accessed 20 August 2010.84 Good Work And our Times
  • 86. WhAT hAppens When Work Goesand numeracy skills. As well as the basic underpinning skills of English and maths, courses includedbusiness and vocational skills such as customer service and business administration, and learning tosupport career-changes, such as book keeping or HGV driving. Sharon Pearcey, a Learning Rep herself,took advantage of the opportunity to open up a new career path for herself: Lots of people were doing Skills for Life courses and I thought I ought to get experience of that so I joined up and passed my Level 2 literacy qualification. I can also support staff with that now. In the future I want to become a care worker and the learning I have done and the confidence I have in myself will help me achieve this. I now have a place on a part time care training course at my local college.140Overall, almost two thirds of all Boots’ staff across the country were involved in some form of learning,and in the distribution centres the figure was as high as 90 percent. Over half worked towards avocational qualification or a nationally recognised qualification in English or Maths – in other words, theygained an additional qualification that would be recognised by any employer. And widespread trainingin job search and interview skills gave staff a chance of getting another job when their workplace closeddown. Commissioner, Clare Chapman’s experience supports the argument that there is value to bothemployers and employees in investing in long term marketable skills: Clare Chapman, National Health Service “As with any deal, there’s ‘a give and a get’ involved. Part of ‘the give’ from an employer’s perspective, is providing skills which support employability. And, in return, part of ‘the give’ from an employee perspective is seeing it as your responsibility to stay fit for work. It’s every bit as influential on your life expectancy as whether or not you smoke. You can’t possibly work in the healthcare sector and not recognise the cost that unemployment brings – and the damage to mental and physical wellbeing that results from it. That, I think, sets a broader context for the responsibilities of employers because it’s far better that we ensure we give our employees the kinds of skills which can help them remain employable and stay in work – because the cost to the country of losing people and skills out of the workplace, and the consequent hit on benefits, is a very poor alternative.”A vivid picture of just how far attitudes have shifted in the UK over the past thirty years is captured in thecontrast of what happened at Boots with the events in Pontonx-sur-l’Adour in south-west France, whereone of Sony’s factories was due to be closed down in March 2009 with the loss of 300 jobs. SergeFoucher, CEO of Sony France, was taken hostage by workers, who objected to the closure itself andthe severance terms on offer. As a result, they occupied the site, barricaded the entry with tree trunksand Mr Foucher spent the night shut in a meeting room. In a similar scenario, the director of 3M’s Frenchoperations, Luc Rousselet, was held hostage at a plant south of Paris. The Huffington Post commentaryon these crises, wryly told its readers that: In France, it is not unheard of for striking workers to hold company executives as a way of winning concessions from management. The hostages are almost never injured.141Those instances of direct employee action spring from a deep belief that a person’s employment is sointrinsic to their identity that to take it away is tantamount to breaching their human rights – which, initself, could be seen as an illustration of the theme so central to this report that people naturally investtheir work with meaning in a way which becomes essential to their sense of self-worth. In the 1970s in140 Usdaw, Learning for Change: How Usdaw and Boots Helped Staff Prepare for Change, Usdaw, 2009.141 (accessed 18 August 2010).Good Work And our Times 85
  • 87. WhAT hAppens When Work Goesthe UK it was not untypical for many interactions between unions and employers to be characterised bysimilarly adversarial attitudes. The ‘right to work’ was, for many people, a basic premise of employmentnegotiations. Yet at the start of the 21st century, that reaction seems not only extreme and out-of-date but, more significantly, less effective as a response to the challenge of maintaining employmentopportunities in changing labour markets.As we have discussed, a recent trend, especially in the UK, has been increasing number of employersand their employees working together to mitigate the brutality of the downturn. Businesses are clear thatthey cannot offer cast-iron guarantees of job security and many unions are focusing energy on helpingtheir members adapt to the realities of the global marketplace.A contemporary union perspective is likely to judge employers on how they handle the process of re-structuring, rather than on the fact of redundancies. That is made up of the transparency and fairnesswith which job losses are managed, the authenticity of the consultative process, terms of severanceand, increasingly, the extent to which employees are equipped for future employment opportunities.Returning to the experience at MG Rover in 2006 cited at the start of this chapter,142 the WorkFoundation’s study followed a large number of the workers who had been made redundant for over ayear after they lost their jobs. A large amount of support was available from a special task force whichinvolved local councils, JobCentre Plus, training organisations and other agencies. There was an aidpackage worth £176 million, including £50 million for re-skilling – and, in the end, 60 per cent of allworkers received some form of training. However, some people refused to participate in training andthe tracking study demonstrated that their outcomes were worse. In contrast, those who took up theavailable training not only benefited from increased access to future employment opportunities butreported greater confidence and motivation about their next steps.As these examples illustrate, building long term employability requires the active participation ofemployees: it cannot be done to them or for them. It does not protect employees from losing their jobs,but it does support their ability to continue to participate in the economy and rewarding work in thefuture. As Commissioner, Carolyn Gray, says: Carolyn Gray, Guardian Media Group When people face redundancy, what matters comes down to a commitment to treating them with dignity, to giving sufficient compensation for the job loss and to helping people with the facilities to obtain alternative work. That may be out placements, or giving them new skills and assistance with training. Some people, if they’ve been in one job for a long time, don’t even know how to apply for a job. As employers, I believe, the least we can do is make people employable. Give them a fighting chance of finding alternative employment. It may not be in the industry they’ve come out of, because in today’s world old industries are dying now quicker than they ever did. But if they have a portfolio of skills and the right attitude, they have employability. Employability is something that transcends an individual job – and gives people something to take through their lives with them. It gives them flexibility in how they want to be employed. It’s something we can help with while employees are still with us and in work. It’s about making sure that people know that jobs aren’t for life, but work can be.142 Armstrong K, Life After Rover, The Work Foundation, 2006.86 Good Work And our Times
  • 88. WhAT hAppens When Work Goesin summAry:Just how much work means to people is clear when there is no work. The stakes are high forindividuals, communities and the economy. Yet, job losses are a fact of life in the workplace, so thecritical issue is how well they can be handled to mitigate the damage they do. There is no doubt thatfacing up to job loss will always be difficult – but there are ways of handling it that people need notbe ashamed of.Three specific ways emerge in which organisations can handle redundancy which can actuallyenhance their claim to be a place of good work, rather than negate it: • The innovative approaches that have been adopted by organisations to respond to the recent fierce recession are offering a new paradigm of employers and employees working together to respond to the downturn. This has often involved unions working with employees and management to find ways of job sharing and making use of time away from work for re-skilling, in order to protect jobs for the long term. • A company’s philosophy and practice of redundancy can be built into its core HR practices in a way which ensures that the principles and factors affecting good work, outlined in previous chapters, can applied to how redundancy is handled. They include open dialogue, flexibility, giving employees a voice in developing solutions and equipping front line management to understand the human issues involved. • In a world where employers cannot guarantee the job security employees hanker after, they can invest in the employability of their employees – which is fast becoming the contemporary definition of security in the world of work. In managing the process of redundancy, employers and unions alike are focusing greater attention on ensuring that people are prepared to get into the next job.It is bound to be tough for workers to see job loss as anything other than a betrayal of trust.Similarly, for some employers, headcount reduction is still no more than an expedient way ofreducing costs. Yet we have seen that, tackled in an imaginative and collaborative way a company’sphilosophy towards, and practice of, redundancy can actually be considered to be a test – maybe,the acid test – of its claim to be a ‘good work’ organisation, rather than a negation of it.Good Work And our Times 87
  • 89. on The horizon – fuTure Trendson The horizon – fuTure TrendsAt the start of this report we painted the backdrop against which we all experience work today. First wasthe recognition that work is an intrinsic part of human experience. Therefore a good experience of workmakes a significant contribution to a good life for an individual – and, as a society, the ability to offergood work is a powerful indicator of the nature of the culture.The report went on to offer a contemporary interpretation of work in our times. The macro-trendswhich we identified as being major influences on work include growing globalisation and theinterconnectedness of markets, growing technological innovation and widespread use of it in andbeyond the workplace, and the growing power of the consumer. Looking out to the horizon and whatwe might expect in the future, all of these trends look set to continue, and indeed, intensify.A recent Delphi study conducted by The Work Foundation, The Deal in 2020,143 considered the factorswhich will shape work over the next decade. The Expert Panel for the Delphi study comprises around25 thought-leaders and experts from business and academia, union leaders and economists, andpractitioners from the world of the arts, digital media and environmental expertise. Their reflections,which fall broadly under the seven headings below, predict the following: The ubiquity of Information Communications Technology There was clear agreement among the Delphi experts that the future of work will be shaped by continuing advances in information communications technology (ICT). For employees, it will facilitate greater flexible working and global networking, with increasingly permeable boundaries between work and private time, and the workplace and remote locations. Individuals may be working simultaneously for several organisations, linked virtually to each one using a plethora of devices, networks and intermediaries. The spread of ICT will enable the mass personalisation of services for consumers, drive innovation in service delivery and demand new business models for competitive success. Continued Global Interconnectedness The nature and organisation of work will be affected by the relentless pursuit of cost efficiencies, pressure on resources, shorter product cycles, greater service innovation, and the anticipation of consumer behaviour. Rising numbers of middle class consumers in the BRIC economies will create a larger global demand for products and services. We are likely to see the increased standardisation and intensification of work as jobs become more mobile. The growth in transnational companies will increase the mobility of skilled workers and the development of global supply chains. Meanwhile, the drive towards globalisation may also create a protectionist backlash and a renewed emphasis on the viability of local markets. And, as global companies locate in new places, the welfare of their employees and their impact on communities will make corporate social responsibility a core business activity. Asymmetric Economic Growth Slow growth in developed economies will be in contrast to the rapid growth in the developing world, further shifting the centre of economic gravity away from the West. These developing economies will have sustained economic progress, expanding defence capability, and large populations. As their middle classes grow, they will offer greater export opportunities for Western economies. Therefore the main driver for growth in the developed countries will be innovation, an area where – as yet – they retain an advantage.143 Wong W, Sullivan J et al, The Deal in 2020: A Delphi study of the future of the employment relationship, The Work Foundation, 2010.88 Good Work And our Times
  • 90. on The horizon – fuTure Trends Social, Economic and Workplace Inequality In developed economies, income and wealth disparities will widen while opportunities for upward social mobility will remain limited. The expectation is that many workers will struggle to maintain ‘good work’ – and many knowledge workers will tolerate higher job insecurity in exchange for better work. The gap between the skilled and the unskilled is likely to create a polarised society with an elite of knowledge workers and a broad base of low skilled, low value jobs – and a thinning out of jobs in the middle will make it harder for people to ‘climb the ladder’ to better paid jobs. The Skills Gap Improved skills will be an important factor in the UK in closing the productivity gap with its competitor countries in Europe and with the US. The UK is likely to suffer from an on-going lack of intermediate and technical skills, especially in design and engineering, supervision and middle management – and new pools of expertise will be required to participate in areas which would enable the UK to compete globally, such as bioscience and low carbon. It is likely that responsibility for keeping skills up to date will shift – with the burden moving from state to employer, and potentially from employer to employee. The Response to the Environmental Challenges and Climate Change The Delphi experts overwhelmingly supported the view that in developed economies there would be a shift in the zeitgeist towards greater personal and societal responsibility for the protection of the environment – which would, in turn, have significant implications for how businesses operate. Competition for increasingly scarce natural resources will hit the traditional engines of economic growth, especially, but not only, in the resource intensive industries. One view is that, though necessary, the development of more environmentally sound activities may not add significantly to economic growth, possibly even resulting in net job losses. A contrasting view is that technological innovation will generate new economic growth opportunities and new jobs. Either way, industry is likely to experience significant skills obsolescence and disruption in traditional sectors. The Changing Role of the State The size and influence of transnational corporations will grow and will seek to limit State influence on regulation, such as, taxes or labour and environmental standards, except where there is an advantage to them. The European Union is likely to continue to provide the broad legal framework for employment regulation, while seeking still to liberalise the Union’s product markets as the EU expands further. The view from the Delphi Panel was that, overall, the influence of the State is likely to be more constrained and, or, restrained in 2020 than it was in 2010.The Good Work Commissioners, too, recognise these trends as drivers of change. Undoubtedly, theywill translate into significant challenges in the workplace over the next ten years and the concern of theCommissioners is how they play out in a way which gives the best chance of a good experience ofwork, for employers and employees alike.Good Work And our Times 89
  • 91. on The horizon – fuTure Trends Commissioner perspective from Richard Chartres, Bishop of London – on new ways of operating Command and control structures may have suited the conditions of the Industrial Revolution, ‘Fordism’ and the nature of the work the day before yesterday. Whether that suits the Knowledge Economy and the Information Revolution is another matter. There are new industries emerging where you’re absolutely forced to undertake a new model and a new way of motivating and animating people. So today we have structures and institutions that are rooted in a number of different social orders. Consumerism has hit work in the sense that people are asking, ‘What’s in this for me?’ rather than coming with a sense of obligation, which was true pretty universally in Churchill’s Britain. People then would look at institutions like the great firms, their workplaces, their churches, and think in terms of obligation. Now, of course, they’re thinking much more in terms of consumer satisfaction and that has an enormous challenge for managers. Curiously enough, I see it even in the church which is quite a large organisation. We have a 1,000 priests and 500 communities at least. We have 150 schools and are educating 50,000 London kids a day. We try to run what I call a ‘chaordinariat’; it has a structure, it has an order, but it permits a high degree of chaos at the grass roots level. Small units are given a great deal of latitude to express themselves, within a structure which compels them to communicate and to learn from one another. Developing new structures for work is a very interesting aspect of the development of the new economy. And the significance of creativity and the opportunity to stimulate creativity in our pupils is hardly yet reflected in the school system, but it is a very necessary educational shift to come in line with the new nature of work in our time.90 Good Work And our Times
  • 92. on The horizon – fuTure TrendsLooking at what is new on the horizon, a view shared by all the Commissioners is that a distinguishingcharacteristic of employees entering the workplace today is that they are more vocal and proactiveabout wanting ‘a good place to work’. They agreed that young people beginning their working livesnow have discernably different expectations from their predecessors. What the Commissioners areexperiencing in their own organisations is validated by a body of research conducted by The WorkFoundation and others. The Oxygenz project, for example, asked 3,000 eighteen to twenty five year oldswhat they wanted of their future workplaces.144 The report concludes that: The data reveals a fascinating insight into this new generation and how they are and behave compared to the previous one. The initial results confirm the characteristics that are attributed to Generation Y. There are five aspects of the initial findings we should draw attention to: • Their desires and expectations of mobility and flexible working • Their focus on team working and collaboration (both formal and informal) • The high value they place on opportunities for learning • The importance of the physical environment in which they work • How strongly environmentally conscious they are • Their sociability The Generation Y is inherently social, team focused and embraces flexibility. Organisations now have the opportunity to view the potential in the Generation Y at work, embrace their environmental consciousness and consider their emotional engagement with their workplace as a source of business advantage.Meanwhile across all sectors and for all ages, there is an understanding that managing people nowrequires active engagement and dialogue, and that a command and control model is outdated. Also,employees want to fit their work alongside their personal aspirations and lifestyle in a more fluid way,and to be able to envisage how they can develop themselves over time. There is a strong sense thatemployees are increasingly interested in the social role and impact of the organisation they work for,challenging it go beyond rhetoric and into practical manifestations as a signal of how serious it is aboutbeing a good corporate citizen. Though expressed in different ways by different Commissioners, theseare common themes about what will shape the future of work.144 Puybaraud, M, Generation Y and the Workplace, Annual Report 2010, Johnson Controls Global WorkPlace Solutions, 2010.Good Work And our Times 91
  • 93. on The horizon – fuTure Trends Commissioner perspectives on people asking more from work Adam Crozier, ITV The days of just telling people what to do are long gone. Now you need to explain to people why a change needs to happen and what that means. Then, of course, you have to break it down into bite-sized chunks so people can see what it means for employees in different parts of the organisation – as individuals. It’s about recognising that that will create other issues for them and what can you do to help them make that change easier. A real shift I’ve seen over the last 10-15 years is people wanting to understand what an organisation stands for. Wanting to understand what is on offer in terms of the training they will get; how they will be developed. And wanting to know how the organisation will help them lead the more flexible life style they want. They want to know what the organisation does for the environment and for society. Alongside that is a desire that, if they put the right effort into the organisation, they will share in the organisation’s success. I can remember when I started working in the 1980s, it was just about the job. You worked whatever hours you were asked to work and you did it pretty unquestioningly. If you look at the people joining us now, it’s a very different story. Carolyn Gray, Guardian Media Group People are more demanding of what work should be giving them – and they want it to be an equal two-way deal. Also, they want to feel that they work for a good employer, an ethical employer, a sustainable employer. There’s much more of that than there used to be. The specific question I get asked is, ‘Why would you say this is a good place to work?’ Andy Bond, formerly Asda If you look at the young people coming into the workforce, in particular, they’re looking for different things out of work, definitely. They’re not just looking for an economic equation which, perhaps, my generation was looking for. In those days, the primary issue was, ‘How much are you going to pay me?’ It’s much more about lifestyle now. As the entrepreneur, Julie Meyer, puts it, young people today enter the workplace with the philosophy that, ‘I don’t work for anybody, I work for myself, even though I may have a contract with someone’. Intellectually and emotionally, they start from a very different place to previous generations.92 Good Work And our Times
  • 94. on The horizon – fuTure Trends John Varley, formerly Barclays The values of an organisation matter to its recruitment prospects. I’ve seen that in trends which have changed significantly over the last ten years. If you want to employ the best graduates from university or from business school, you’ll be asked pointed questions about your values as a leader and the values of the organisation you lead. Most of these potential recruits will know about the ’what’ of the work that the organisation offers. But increasingly, they’re interested to hear about the ‘how’. How do you deliver your services? How do you make your decisions? How serious are you about diversity, environmental responsibility, contribution to the community? These things are increasingly relevant to employee choice. In the past, in any event in large parts of the banking industry, a key distinguishing feature was pay. In today’s world, pay is necessary but it certainly isn’t sufficient to attract and retain the best. Tracy Clarke, Standard Chartered People are asking more of work now. When we’re interviewing graduates these days, rather than just paying lip service to what they’re seeing about the business on the website, they have questions. So they’ll say: ‘OK, you talk about being a very socially conscious company. Tell me how I would experience that? What could I do in my first two years to really make a difference?’ Then you might get a set of questions such as: ‘You talk about having a very strong culture, what does that really mean? I’ve worked at three companies already that talked about being values oriented and, in reality, it was just a chart on the wall – what does it mean here?’ I get those questions, very regularly when I interview very senior people – and I know this to be true at the very junior levels of the organisation, as well. In Asia or in Africa, in my experience, it’s always been that way. But even when we’re recruiting now in the UK or in the US, in the more developed markets, it’s becoming much more prevalent. It never used to be, but it is now.Good Work And our Times 93
  • 95. creATinG more Good WorkcreATinG more Good WorkThe premise of the Good Work Commission, which underlies this report, is that a strong society is relianton a strong economy and a strong economy is reliant on the availability of good work for its citizens. Forthe individuals, ‘good work’ encompasses the pay and conditions which sets the formal context withinwhich they do their jobs, but also being engaged in something which they feel is meaningful in theirlives. The conclusion of the Commissioners is that there is a business case for employers to invest in‘good work’ because it can be demonstrated to improve productivity, employee retention and customersatisfaction.These matters are of strategic significance to those who run organisations and manage workforces andteams. They are of personal consequence to employees who want to engage their employer in providingmore rewarding and meaningful work. They are relevant to people who lead organisations in the private,public or voluntary sectors, from the senior leadership through to front line management and supervisorylevels. They matter to a great variety of people with different perspectives on the employmentrelationships, whether they are HR professionals or union representatives, long standing employees ornew recruits, people working in small organisations or large.In summary, each chapter of this report has explored different aspects of what makes up ‘good work’. Insummary: • Work in Our Times began with an exploration of the powerful forces which are changing the context of work in our times, from globalisation to technology and consumer demand. • Meaning and Purpose argued that people, no matter where they sit within an organisation, have a real desire for meaning and purpose in their work. That led us to consideration of how leaders can facilitate that in their organisations and the opportunity which exists to use the design of jobs and workflow to improve the experience of work. • The Explicit Deal explored what matters most to people about the formal employment contract, including the perception of fairness, the strong trend towards transparency and the new, broader agenda for the unions in today’s workplace. • The Implicit Deal looked at the multi-faceted expectations which make up the daily experience of work, dealing especially with the factors which create an engaged and productive workforce – and the criticality of the role played by the front line managers in delivering that. • When Work Goes made the case that, integral to the whole argument, is rising to the challenge of facing job losses with the same principles which apply to delivering ‘good work’. • On the Horizon looked at the trends which will influence work into the future – and highlighted how many people in the workforce today have higher expectations than ever before, explicitily wanting their work to be meaningful and valuable, and expecting it to contribute to their sense of identity and to wider society as well as to the organisation itself.The intention of the Commission was to help people and organisations to understand how to providemore ‘good work’. Therefore, in concluding the report, we have sought to translate the insights fromall the research and views into a provocation for action. We have set out a series of fourteen questionswhich offer a framework for structured discussion. The objective of the framework is to enable peopleto assess whether – and how effectively – their organisation is providing ‘good work’ and what can bedone to create more of it:94 Good Work And our Times
  • 96. creATinG more Good WorkfrAmeWork for discussion:1. Do you understand enough about what your employees see as the purpose of the organisation and what their work means to them?2. ow confident are you that your senior leadership does a good job of connecting H people to the purpose of the organisation?3. re you capitalising on the opportunities to redesign workflow, jobs and teams to A make work more engaging for employees and, at the same time, more productive for the organisation?4. hat benefits could you realise if more of your employees were able to derive a W sense of meaning from their work? Does it matter if some of them find their work ‘meaningless’?5. How much would prioritising and promoting a stronger culture of transparency enable you to enhance employee trust and engagement?6. How effectively is your management equipped to tackle poor performance?7. To what degree is negotiation on the explicit deal between your organisation and its employees focused on delivering mutual benefits, ie: a win-win outcome?8. ow confident are you that your efforts to improve employee engagement H explicitly connect people to the purpose of the organisation and their role in it?9. n a world where employees want more flexibility, autonomy, voice and I opportunities for development and personal growth, how adequately is your organisation responding?10. o what extent to you expect to equip your line managers to play a key role in T communicating purpose and enabling your employees to have a good experience of work on a day-to-day basis?11. ow much are the principles and practice of ‘good work’ evident in your approach H to managing job losses and redundancy?12. iven that no employer can guarantee a job for life, what more could you do to G help your employees develop transferable skills which can make them employable in today’s labour market?13. eflecting on your corporate purpose and ambition, what should ‘good work’ look R like in your organisation?14. ow do you answer the question, ‘How can you demonstrate what makes your H organisation a good place to work?’Good Work And our Times 95
  • 97. creATinG more Good WorkThose 14 questions follow the thread of the argument through the report. They can be used as promptsfor open-ended discussion among any leadership team. And – in the spirit of the report – they recognisethat there are many people in leadership positions throughout any organisation, from the senior levels tothe front line, who can make a valuable contribution to the way the discussion unfolds. It is possible toimagine a range of scenarios: it could be a single Board level conversation which is the catalyst to newthinking; or, it could take the form of workshops right across a business enabling different perspectivesto contribute to a rounded picture of what could make a difference to the experience of work:Commissioner, Adam Crozier, encapsulated the aspiration of the Good Work Commission when he said: “We want this report to be helpful: to put forward some practical issues you will need to consider if you want to be an organisation that offers ‘good work’ because these are the things that are becoming more important to people in the way they view work. People ask a much wider range of questions now and we will need to have proper answers.”Whether your organisation is at the start of the process or far down the track, this series of questionsoffers a framework that can act as the basis for determining how to move to the next stage – and how,more confidently, to answer the question, ‘Why is this a good place to work?’ * * * * *The full report and the framework for discussion can be downloaded from The WorkFoundation website at: Good Work And our Times
  • 98. Appendix 1Appendix 1 – The commissionersA major asset of the Good Work Commission is the Commissioners themselves. They are a groupof individuals with great breadth and depth of experience in leading organisations. They representbusinesses in a range of industries. They span private and public sector organisations, the unions,the church, government, media and the voluntary sector.Over eighteen months, they commissioned nine Provocation Papers from The Work Foundation,and met six times to consider the arguments and evidence presented to them. This report is adistillation of the themes which emerged from those papers and the debate which flowed from them.In addition, the Commissioners contributed personal perspectives and insights on the key topicsin the report, drawn from their experience of how work is evolving and adapting to the realities ofmodern organisations. Their views are incorporated into this report.The Good Work Commissioners set out to explore what constitutes ‘good work’ – and how togenerate more of it. This issue is increasingly the subject of public debate. In that context, theaspiration of the Commissioners is that this report will be useful to people concerned with theemployment relationship in organisations today – helping people to answer the question, ‘Why isthis a good place to work?’Chair of Commission Alan Parker founder and Chairman, the Brunswick Group Alan Parker is Chairman of the Brunswick Group, the international and financial corporate communications firm which he founded in 1987. Brunswick has grown organically to more than eighty partners with eighteen offices around the world, and ranking in first place for M&A communications advisers in the UK, Europe, US and Asia. Alan is Chairman of the international charity, Save the Children UK. Brunswick also hosts a number of charities in its offices, including PilotLight and We Are What We Do. In 2008, he was the founder and Vice-Chairman of China Now, a festival in the UK to celebrate Chinese culture and strengthen relationships between the UK and China, as is currently leading the development of Britain Now to promote UK business in China. He has been appointed by government as a Business Ambassador for the UK.Good Work And our Times 97
  • 99. Appendix 1 Andy Bond former Chairman, Asda Andy Bond has recently become Chairman of Republic, the fashion retailer, and of Euro Garages, the forecourt retailer. He is also to take the chairmanship of Wiggle, the cycling and triathlon goods retailer. Prior to that he was President and CEO of Asda from 2005 and named Chairman of the Asda executive committee in April 2010. He started his career at Asda as a marketing manager in 1994 and during his thirteen years at the company held various positions, including Chief Operating Officer, where he was responsible for Retail Operations and Logistics, Marketing Director and Managing Director of George. Having studied Engineering at Salford University, Andy started his career as a graduate trainee at British Gas. Clare Chapman Director General of Workforce, NHS and Social Care, Department of Health Clare Chapman is responsible for the development of workforce strategy and policy for the National Health Service, which employs a total of 1.4 million people. Clare is also on the Audit Committee of Jobcentre Plus. She was Group Personnel Director at Tesco, where she was architect of the ground-breaking partnership deal with the retail union, Usdaw. Her previous roles include Vice President of Human Resources for Pepsi Cola International’s Central European Operations. Clare was Dean of Quaker University, Quaker Oats Inc. Chicago, where she established the company’s Learning Institute. She is also an Advisory Board Member for the Judge Institute, Business School for the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of the Institute of Personnel. The Rt. Revd. & Rt Hon. Richard Chartres, The Bishop of London Richard Chartres was appointed Bishop of London in 1995. He is also Dean of HM Chapels Royal, a member of the Privy Council and an ex-officio member of the House of Lords. In addition to his diocesan work, the Bishop serves as Chairman of the Church Commissioners and Chairman of the Church Buildings Division of the Church of England. With Cardinal Hume, he founded St. Ethelburga Centre for Preventing and Transforming Conflict. His publications cover the fields of religion and science and the environment. His ‘History of Gresham College’ earned him a fellowship of the Society of Antiquaries.98 Good Work And our Times
  • 100. Appendix 1 Adam Crozier Chief Executive, ITV Adam Crozier joined ITV plc as Chief Executive in April 2010. Before that, he was Chief Executive of Royal Mail Group between 2003 and 2010, where he led the Royal Mail’s transformation from an organisation failing customer service targets and losing more than £1 million every working day to a company making £1 million every working day. He constructed the Royal Mail’s plan to invest around £2 billion in modernising and automating the business, enabling it to become commercially competitive in the marketplace. Between 1988 and 1999, Adam held a number of senior roles at Saatchi and Saatchi, including Joint Chief Executive from 1995. Adam was Chief Executive of the Football Association and chaired the Employers’ Forum for Disability. Carolyn Gray Group Human Resources and Pensions Director, Guardian Media Group Carolyn Gray joined the Guardian Media Group in 2006 and as Group Human Resources and Persions Director, has experienced the media industry at a time of great structural change. Previously she worked in Human Resources with Sainsburys, Focus Wickes and Smith Group plc, where she was Director of Reward and Policy Development. Carolyn is a member of the Council of the Institute of Employment Studies and sits on the Executive of the Involvement and Participation Association. Also, in the voluntary sector, Carolyn is a Trustee of Christian Aid. John Hannett General Secretary, Usdaw John Hannett is the General Secretary of Usdaw, which is the UK’s fourth largest union, representing a membership of 385,000 people working in the retail sector. He represents Usdaw on a number of Government Commissions, including the Low Pay Commission. John also sits on both the Executive Committee and the General Council of the TUC and is an ACAS Council Member.Good Work And our Times 99
  • 101. Appendix 1 Sir Peter Housden Permanent Secretary, Scottish Government Sir Peter Housden became Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government in 2010. Previously, he was Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government. As Director General for Schools at the Department of Education and Skills (DfES), Peter was responsible for primary and secondary education in England’s 27,000 schools and led the major programmes on educational standards and workforce reform, and the drive towards a more intelligent accountability framework for schools and local authorities. Peter began his career as a comprehensive school teacher in Shropshire and worked as an education officer in three county authorities before being appointed Director of Education in Nottinghamshire and, in 1994, Chief Executive of Nottinghamshire County Council. He is an Associate Fellow of Warwick University Business School and a trustee of The Work Foundation. Will Hutton Executive Vice Chair, The Work Foundation Will Hutton is Executive Vice Chair of The Work Foundation, a leading voice on work, employment and organisation issues in the UK. Advising senior political and business figures, and as a commentator in the national and international media, Will is one of today’s foremost economics commentators. Will began his career as a stockbroker and investment analyst and then moved to the BBC, working in radio and television, including as economics correspondent for Newsnight. He spent four years as editor-in-chief of The Observer, for which he continues to write a weekly column. He has written many books, including ‘The State We’re In’ and, most recently, ‘Them and Us’. He is a governor of the London School of Economics, where he is also a visiting professorial fellow at the Centre for Global Governance. He chairs the new Commission on Ownership, due to publish its report in Autumn 2011.100 Good Work And our Times
  • 102. Appendix 1 Jim McAuslan General Secretary, British Airline Pilots’ Association Jim McAuslan became General Secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association in 2003 and has grown the organisation to represent 80% of the UK’s commercial pilots. He has led a major European re-think on how pilots can organise to meet the challenges posed by trans-national companies. Jim joined the Inland Revenue in 1972, becoming Deputy General Secretary of the Staff Federation in 1990 and was subsequently responsible for the merger negotiations that created the 300,000 strong Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS). A union moderniser, he was Chairman of Unions 21, a think- tank for progressive unions and has been a strong advocate of moving unions towards partnership working with employers. He sat on the Fabian Commission of Taxation and Citizenship, and is a Trustee of the Duke of Edinburgh Study Conference which aims to improve the quality and wisdom of leaders in society. Peter Sands Group Chief Executive, Standard Chartered Peter Sands, who grew up in Asia, joined the Board of Standard Chartered PLC as Group Finance Director in 2002 and was appointed Group Chief Executive in 2006. Previously, Peter was a Director with the worldwide consultancy, McKinsey and Co., where he worked extensively with the banking and technology sectors in a range of international markets. Before that, he worked for the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Tracy Clarke Group Head of Human Resources and Communications, Standard Chartered Tracy Clarke has worked with Standard Chartered for over twenty five years. Having spent most of her career in banking roles both in the UK and Hong Kong, became Group Head of Human Resources in March 2006, with her portfolio expanding to include Group Corporate Affairs in 2010. Tracy’s prior roles with Standard Chartered include Executive Resourcing and Development, and multinational corporate relationship management in Wholesale Banking. She was a Non-Executive Director of SC First Bank in Korea from 2005-7 and became a Non-Executive Director of eaga plc in September 2007, where she chairs the Remuneration Committee and is a member of the Audit Committee. She is a Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador for the Bank and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personal Development.Good Work And our Times 101
  • 103. Appendix 1 John Varley formerly Group Chief Executive, Barclays John Varley was Group Chief Executive of Barclays PLC from 2004 to 2011, having been Finance Director previously. He originally joined the Corporate Finance Department of Barclays Merchant Bank in 1982, and held a number of roles in the organisation including Head of BZW’s offices in South East Asia, Deputy Chief Executive of BZW’s Equity Division, Chairman of the Asset Management Division and Chief Executive of Retail Financial Services. John is a member of the International Advisory Panel of the Monetary Authority of Singapore and a Non-Executive Director of AstraZeneca PLC. He is also very active in the community sector. He is Chairman of Business Action on Homelessness, for which he was awarded the Prince of Wales Ambassador’s Award in 2010. Among his other roles he includes President of the Employers’ Forum on Disability and Honorary President of the UK Drug Policy Commission. Kim Winser Chairman, Agent Provocateur, and Senior Adviser, 3i Kim Winser was appointed Senior Adviser to the private equity company, 3i, and is also Chairman of Agent Provocateur, the iconic lingerie brand in the 3i portfolio. Before that, Kim was President and Chief Executive Officer of the British luxury fashion brand, Aquascutum. Following the take-over of Pringle of Scotland, she was appointed CEO and led the turnaround of the business. Before joining Pringle, Kim was the only female director of Marks and Spencer, rising through the ranks from Management Trainee. The Wall Street Journal named Kim No.3 in the list of Europe’s most successful business women.102 Good Work And our Times
  • 104. Appendix 2Appendix 2 – The Work foundATionThe Work Foundation is the UK’s leading authority on work and its future. Over the past decade, theFoundation has produced a substantial body of work relevant to the concerns of the Good WorkCommission and on the issues discussed in this report. This report draws extensively on that researchbase and specifically cites the following studies and papers: • Armstrong K, Life After Rover, The Work Foundation, 2006. • Bevan S, Armstrong K and Williams L, Shall I Stay or Shall I Go?, The Work Foundation, 2005. • Bevan S and Wilmott M, The Ethical Employee, The Work Foundation/The Future Foundation, 02. • Brinkley I, Levy C and Morris K, The Jobs Gap, The Work Foundation 2010. • Coats D, Speaking Up!: Voice, Industrial Democracy and Organisational Performance, The Work Foundation, 2004. • Constable S, Coats D, Bevan S and Mahdon M, Good Jobs, Health and Safety Executive, 2009. • Hutton W. Are we heading for a fairer workplace? The Work Foundation, 2010. • Hutton W, The Landscape of Tough Times, The Work Foundation, 2010. • Jones A, Nathan M and Westwood A, Marks and Start: Opening the door to employment? The Work Foundation, 2004. • Jones A, Visser F, Coats D, Bevan S & McVerry A, Transforming Work: Reviewing the case for change and new ways of working, Working Paper Series No. 60, Equal Opportunities Commission, 2007. • Metcalf D, British Unions: resurgence or perdition?, The Work Foundation, 2005. • Sullivan J and Wong W, Deal or no deal? An exploration of the modern employment relationship, The Work Foundation, 2010. • Tamkin P, Pearson G, Hirsh W and Constable S, Exceeding Expectation: the principles of outstanding leadership, The Work Foundation, 2010. • The Work Foundation, Cracking the Performance Code: How Firms Succeed, 2005. • The Work Foundation, ‘The Joy of Work’, 2006. • The Work Foundation, Working Capital, 2002. • Wong W, Sullivan J et al, The Deal in 2020: A Delphi study of the future of the employment relationship, The Work Foundation, 2010.In addition, the Work Foundation produced or commissioned a series of nine Provocation Papers for theconsideration of the Commissioners to inform and prompt debate. They are all available on Work commission series of provocATion pApers: • Donkin R, Work Futures, The Future of Work: Provocation Paper 1, Good Work Commission, 2009.Good Work And our Times 103
  • 105. Appendix 2 • Lawson E, Engaged staff: what do they look like and why might you want them? Provocation Paper 2, The Good Work Commission, 2009. • Overell S, The Meaning of Work: Provocation Paper 3, The Good Work Commission, 2009. • Lekhi R and Blaug R, Smoke, Mirrors and the Employment Relationship: Provocation Paper 4, The Good Work Commission, 2009. • Tamkin P and Overell S, After the Collapse: Post Recession Leaders and Leadership: Provocation Paper 5, The Good Work Commission, 2009 • Lekhi R and Blaug R, Ownership and good work: Provocation Paper 6, Good Work Commission, 2010. • Overell S, Mills T, Roberts S, Lekhi R, Blaug R, The employment relationship and the quality of work: Provocation Paper 7, The Good Work Commission, 2010. • Kasparova D, Wyatt N, Mills T, Roberts S, Pay: Who were the winners and losers of the New Labour era? Provocation Paper 8, The Good Work Commission, 2010.104 Good Work And our Times
  • 106. © The Work FoundationThe Work Foundation is the trading name forLandec Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary ofLancaster University.The Work Foundation21 Palmer StreetLondonSW1H 0ADTelephone: 020 7976 3546Email: enquiries@theworkfoundation.comWebsite: