Making work better

making work better

It seems obvious that employers offering decent work will find it easier to recruit and retain a high quality workforce.  But the principle is easy to articulate and much harder to apply in practice.  If asked for an honest response, many organisations would admit that they struggle to make the right choices on recruitment, retention and motivation.  Achieving a high level of employee engagement is also a persistent challenge.

WorkMatters Consulting has a well established reputation in the field of job quality and in the identification of the characteristics of “good work”.  Organisations can sometimes find the challenges so daunting that any consideration of job quality is locked firmly in the “too difficult” box.  We aim to make the agenda less threatening and demystify some of the language.

There is plenty of evidence to show that the quality of work has a direct impact on employees’ health and life expectancy.  Employees with poor quality jobs are more likely to take time off sick and are less likely to be motivated or committed. 

Research findings tell us that the following factors are particularly important: 

  • Employment security
  • Autonomy, control and discretion in the workplace
  • Monotonous and repetitive work
  • A balance between the efforts of employees and the rewards they receive.  This is about rewards in the widest sense, including being recognised, praised for good performance and treated with respect. 
  • The full utilisation of employees' accredited skills and the possession of the skills needed to cope with periods of intense pressure.
  • Fairness in the workplace
  • Trust between workers and between workers and their managers. 

Our starting point is to develop a sophisticated understanding of organisational realities.  We have a well developed diagnostic which enables us to understand staff opinions and the capabilities of operational managers to deliver the ingredients of high quality employment.  We can help you develop a practical programme to make work better, improve employee commitment, enrich the experience of work and improve productivity.  

Healthy Work: Productive Workplaces (2005)
Good Work: Job Quality in a Changing Economy (2008)
Both available from

Advancing Opportunity: The Future of Good Work (2009)
Available from the Smith Institute