Only four in ten British employees believe their bosses act with integrity

Authors Email:Stephen Bevan
Date Published:5 July 2011
Category:All News
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UK Businesses challenged to generate more ‘Good Work’

The UK needs to generate more high quality jobs which allow people to re-connect to the purpose of the businesses they work in, argues a major report from the Good Work Commission, launched on 2 July. The report Good Work and Our Times is the culmination of a two-year investigation into the benefits of improving job quality in the UK. Chaired by Alan Parker, Chairman of Brunswick, the Commission has included business leaders (including Peter Sands of Standard Chartered, Adam Crozier of ITV and Andy Bond, formerly of Asda), trade union general secretaries (including John Hannett of Usdaw) and the Bishop of London in a wide-ranging project supported by research conducted by The Work Foundation.

Commenting on the report, Good Work Commission Chairman, Alan Parker, said, “The recent financial crisis crystallised a lot of profound concerns about how we do business. In times of crisis the ‘how’ becomes more important from a risk management point of view, but the bigger trend is how ‘good work’ can be at the heart of high performance organisations. Whether as an individual or as an organisation, it is a key ingredient in creating the winners of tomorrow.”

 Yet in a survey of British employees carried out for the Good Work Commission by YouGov, it is clear that many workers remain concerned that businesses need to rebuild employee trust and confidence in their purpose and integrity. The survey shows that:

  • Only four in ten British employees believe that their bosses act with integrity
  • Almost half of British employees feel that the level of trust between management and employees has got worse in the last year
  • Only one in four employees feel that their organisation manages redundancy compassionately

Stephen Bevan of The Work Foundation, and co-author of the final report said, “The premise of the Good Work Commission is that a strong society is reliant on a strong economy, which is in turn reliant on the availability of good work for its citizens. For the individuals, good work encompasses not only the pay and conditions that set the formal context within which they do their jobs, but also being engaged in something they feel is meaningful in their lives.” 

The YouGov survey indicates that in many respects, some – but by no means all - British employees get access to many of the core aspects of good work:

  • Almost two-thirds feel they are trusted to do a good job
  • Almost two-thirds say they have a lot of control over how they do their job
  • Six out of ten say that their job gives them the chance to help other people
  • 63% say that their job is ‘very worthwhile’
  • Six in ten say that doing a job which is useful to society is very important to them

The Commissioners conclude that there is a business case for employers to invest in good work because it can be demonstrated to improve productivity, employee retention and customer satisfaction. The challenge for UK businesses, they argue, is to create more good work to meet the needs of an increasingly demanding workforce.

In the report, Adam Crozier, ITV CEO and a member of the Good Work Commission has a message to other business leaders, “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.”


Notes to editors

  1. The report is being launched at an event on 1 July with speeches from Alan Parker, Chair of the Good Work Commission, Will Hutton, Commissioner and Stephen Bevan, a Director of The Work Foundation and co-author of the report.
  2. Good Work and Our Times by Lucy Parker and Stephen Bevan is available at on publication and from the media team in advance.
  3. Alan Parker and Stephen Bevan are available for interviews, briefings and written commentary.
  4. The Good Work Commission was established by The Work Foundation in 2009 and its Commissioners are: Alan Parker, Chairman, the Brunswick Group; Andy Bond, Chairman of Republic and former Chairman of Asda; Clare Chapman, Director General of Workforce for the National Health Service and Social Care, Department of Health; Richard Chartres, The Bishop of London; Tracy Clarke, Group Head of Human Resources and Communications, Standard Chartered; Adam Crozier, Chief Executive of ITV; Carolyn Gray, Human Resources and Pensions Director, Guardian Media Group; John Hannett, General Secretary, Usdaw; Sir Peter Housden, Permanent Secretary, Scottish Government; Will Hutton, Vice Chair, The Work Foundation; Jim McAuslan, General Secretary, British Airline Pilots’ Association; Peter Sands,Group Chief Executive, Standard Chartered; John Varley, former Group Chief Executive, Barclays; Kim Winser, Chairman, Agent Provocateur, and Senior Advisor, 3i.
  5. All figures are from an online YouGov Plc survey unless otherwise stated. Total sample size was 2,928 adults who currently work full or part-time, with 1,695 respondents. Fieldwork was undertaken across 12-13 June 2011.
  6. The Work Foundation is the leading independent authority on work and its future. It aims to improve the quality of working life and the effectiveness of organisations by equipping leaders, policymakers and opinion-formers with evidence, advice, new thinking and networks. In October 2010, Lancaster University acquired The Work Foundation, forming a new alliance that enables both organisations to further enhance their impact.

Media enquiries:
Anna Kharbanda, 020 7976 3646,
Tom Phillips, 020 7976

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