The Commissioners come from industry, the public sector, unions and faith groups, together employing or representing approximately 2.4 million people.  Full profiles are available on the Commissioners page.

The Good Work Commission is a wide-ranging investigation into the UK workplace.

Productivity, engagement, the quality of work, motivation, meaning, business purpose and the relationship between business and society – all are critical aspects of this investigation. The aim of the Commission is to examine the major challenges of work in the 21st century and redefine the notion of good work – work that is rewarding for business, society and individuals.

The Commission hopes its efforts are the start of a conversation about work - but not a last word. It plans not to recruit to a cause, but to provoke new thinking about the place of work in life and new practices among organisations.

At a time of considerable upheaval in the global economy, the Commission’s purpose is to enable a broad-based, multi-perspective review of the core issues that impact working life. During difficult economic times, the point of view that 'any work is good work' tends to hold sway for the very compelling reason that unemployment is damaging. Yet while understandable, this stance is also inadequate. As employers and as a society, we need to take a view on the kind of work that we aspire to create, sustain and defend.

Complex economic, moral and social issues are involved in work. In economic terms, how people are managed and led fosters innovation, growth and performance. But at the same time the labour market is not like other types of market because it concerns people: what happens at work affects well-being and social mobility. In addition, the contribution of business to society and the development of employees (as well as shareholders) is increasingly centre-stage.

Good work is an inherently ambiguous phrase. It names a vision for the future of the employment relationship that seeks to balance the interests of individuals, employers and society in order to deliver performance, engagement and fairness.

While there are different definitions of good work, some prioritising the interests of workers, others emphasising ethical considerations, the Commission approaches its brief with mutuality in mind – balancing the claims of the different stakeholders in work. Although interests are not identical, they also overlap to a considerable degree.

For employees, good work concerns the development of skills; choice, flexibility and control over working hours and the pace of work; trust, communication and the ability to have a say in decisions that affect them; and a balance between effort and reward.

From a business perspective, good work is productive and efficient; aims to involve and engage employees; and to encourage their contribution to organisational success. And from a society perspective, good work is socially aware, ethical, and sustainable.

Since April 2009 the Good Work Commission has met regularly to discuss different aspects of work, drawing on research, expertise and guest presenters. Meetings have followed a format of a ‘provocation’ style paper prior to the meeting, a presentation at the meeting and in-depth discussions. The findings of the final report draw on both research and discussion.

Topics covered in the course of the Commission’s work include: pay, engagement and motivation, the future of work; leadership; meaning; the state of the employment relationship; and ownership structures and their effect on work. The Commission has also undertaken case study-based research into how organisations in different sectors manage the employment relationship.

The Commission and its findings are hosted by The Work Foundation, which provides secretarial and research support. The reports generated in the course of the Good Work Commission’s investigations are freely available for download via this website. The final report, to be published towards the end of 2010, will also be available.
© The Work Foundation 2010
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