Provocation Paper 1

Work futures
Richard Donkin
DOWNLOAD PDF

Provocation Paper 1

Richard Donkin

The rise of the personal computer and the information society that it has brought about is a watershed moment in the way we live and work: work is potentially more fulfilling and can be done in any location.  The emergence of digital networks poses a profound challenge to traditional hierarchies.  But the extent of change should not be overstated: people have a deep-rooted need for a measure of security and low paid work will remain.  The challenges of the future include how to provide as much flexibility as possible and attend to the needs of an aging workforce.  The emphasis will shift towards measuring results and the quality of work rather than the time taken to accomplish tasks.  Download...

Provocation Paper 2

Engaged staff: what do they look like and why might you want them?
Emily Lawson, McKinsey & Company
DOWNLOAD PDF

 

Provocation Paper 2

Emily Lawson, McKinsey & Company

Organisations with highly engaged employees perform better than those without.  Somewhat surprisingly, however, financial reward is not a main driver of engagement; more important are factors such as the nature of the job and the trust and integrity that pertains in a workplace.  Engagement levels generally remain low and they are likely to have further reduced during the recent recession.  During such times there is an inbuilt attitude that staff should be – and perhaps are – just glad to have a job.  But engagement is extremely important: if you treat staff with respect even in the hard times, they will respond better to the challenges faced.  Download...

Provocation Paper 3

The meaning of work
Stephen Overell
DOWNLOAD PDF

Provocation Paper 3

Stephen Overell

Words such as 'meaning' are an increasingly prominent aspect of the public conversation about work.  But it is not always obvious what people (as it were) mean when they speak of finding or losing meaning.  In practice, meaning relates to other complex questions, such as why people work, what they want out of work and what effect work has on their wider lives, experiences and aspirations.  Perhaps the most eloquent statement of work’s meaning flows from its absence: without work, people and communities crumble.  For employers, meanwhile, such up-tempo hopes as meaning shape the strategic landscape for employment.   Download...

Provocation Paper 4

Smoke, mirrors and the employment relationship
Rohit Lekhi and Ricardo Blaug, Research Republic
DOWNLOAD PDF

Provocation Paper 4

Rohit Lekhi and Ricardo Blaug, Research Republic

Some of our hopes and fears regarding the employment relationship are wrong: the employment relationship is inherently unequal and job insecurity has not risen exponentially in recent years.  Yet changes have occurred: collective bargaining is down and – partly as a result – the interaction between employer and individual employees is far more important.  As a result, the ‘psychological contract’ and ‘trust’ are prominent aspects of management.  Indeed, the best workplaces are those in which mutual trust is high, negotiation avoids ‘bargaining’ type interactions and workers take responsibility for organisational goals; the worst include those in which employees are monitored, managed and controlled, for conflict is accentuated and legitimacy undermined.  Download...

Provocation Paper 5

After the collapse: Post recession leaders and leadership
Penny Tamkin and Stephen Overell
DOWNLOAD PDF

Provocation Paper 5

Penny Tamkin and Stephen Overell

The financial crisis and recession have brought additional focus on the question of leadership and its connections with corporate failure, governance, regulation and business purpose.  Within this are fundamental debates over what leadership itself means and what models best capture its essence.  New research in this field identifies things that differentiate outstanding from merely good leaders.  The best prioritise the development of people, have a more systemic view of the organisation and are willing to 'give power away'.  The restoration of corporate leadership is likely to begin from a renewed sense of business purpose as a foundation of the ability to engage with staff.  Download...

Provocation Paper 6

Ownership and good work
Rohit Lekhi and Ricardo Blaug, Research Republic
DOWNLOAD PDF

Provocation Paper 6 

Rohit Lekhi and Ricardo Blaug, Research Republic

Much has been made about the unique ownership structures of the John Lewis Partnership, but there has been little attention as to the precise relationship between ownership and good work.  This paper argues that there is no fundamental connection between the two and that the big gains come when changes in ownership are coupled with management practices that seek workforce involvement, commitment and partnership.  In other words, the stake has to be both financial and operational.  ‘Stakeholding’ is the approach to corporate governance that is most conducive to good work.  Policies that grant stakeholders access to decision-making not only increase the productivity of employees and organisations, but also generate good work outcomes.  Download...

Provocation Paper 7

The employment relationship and the quality of work
Stephen Overell, Thomas Mills, Sam Roberts, Rohit Lekhi and Ricardo Blaug
DOWNLOAD PDF

Provocation Paper 7

Stephen Overell, Thomas Mills, Sam Roberts, Rohit Lekhi and Ricardo Blaug

The UK has job quality problems – but not necessarily those it thought it had.  The central issues are not so much rising job insecurity or working time, but problems ‘inside’ organisations: levels of autonomy are low, there is increasing work intensification and peoples’ skills are poorly used (‘over-qualification’ is a common complaint).  In addition, measures of employee engagement and the adoption of ‘high performance’ management practices are fairly low.  Today, the dominant source of control over work is not so much supervisors or machinery, but customers.  The paper argues autonomy, work intensity and the use of skills, alongside changes in management practice, are required if the creative abilities of workforces are to be effectively harnessed.  Download...

Provocation Paper 8

Pay: Who were the winners and losers of the New Labour era?
Diana Kasparova, Nick Wyatt, Thomas Mills and Sam Roberts
DOWNLOAD PDF

Provocation Paper 8

Diana Kasparova, Nick Wyatt, Thomas Mills and Sam Roberts

Have most people gained in income in recent years? Undoubtedly yes, but unequally.  Inequality increased dramatically in the last 30 years, although the National Minimum Wage has improved the position of the lowest paid.  There is some evidence to suggest that pay is polarising between ‘lovely’ and ‘lousy’ jobs, in part because new technologies are increasing the demand for skilled employees.  Yet there are tensions at the top. Individual ‘superstars’ have pulled away from others in their profession; other relatively well-paid employees have found their work to be increasingly standardised and monitored and their pay and status are under pressure.  The gender pay gap is down, as are inequalities between ethnic groups. Yet discrimination remains a feature of the workplace.  Download...


© The Work Foundation 2010
Developed by: Challow
Designed by: Merchant