Job quality is at the heart of the CIPD’s purpose to champion better work and working lives. We believe that good work is fundamental to individual wellbeing, supports a fair society and creates motivated workers, productive organisations and a strong economy.

Working Lives Scotland is the CIPD’s first dedicated report on job quality in Scotland. Adapting the CIPD Good Work Index to the Scottish Fair Work Framework, the report provides pre-COVID-19 analysis and insight on a range of issues from workforce health and wellbeing to skills and career development, with a view to informing public policy interventions and improved people practice. 

Policy-makers, employers and people professionals across Scotland need to act if they are to improve job quality for the whole of the workforce – not only aiming for more jobs, but better jobs. Working Lives Scotland is a tool to support them in this work.

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Key findings


  • 30% of employees feel their work impacts negatively on their mental health, while 25% report negative impacts on their physical health. 
  • 55% of employees reported going to work despite not feeling well enough.
  • There is good correlation between flexible work and job satisfaction.  


  • Data shows correlation between life satisfaction and pay levels.
  • Those on higher salaries report higher levels of job security.
  • 64% of employees are reporting some level of overwork, with 15% of employees saying they work 15+ more hours than they would like to.  


  • Only 29% of employees believe their job offers good prospects for career advancement.
  • Both personal and career development opportunities differ (often significantly) by gender, age, sector and occupational class.
  • There are higher levels of presenteeism (working when not fully fit) amongst employees with disabilities. 


  • 34% of all employees report their workload as too high in a normal week. This is worse across some industries, but not substantially different across salary bands.
  • Employees in better-paid jobs report higher levels of job autonomy. 
  • Employees in the public sector are more likely to feel they are in meaningful jobs, compared with private sector employees, and there is a strong correlation between job satisfaction and meaningful work. 

Effective voice

  • 19% of employees say they have no voice channel at work at all.
  • There is significant difference in managerial openness on responding to employee suggestions, with the public sector comparing unfavourably with the private sector in this regard.
  • Our findings suggest that while larger employers are more likely to put in place formal voice arrangements, they perform poorly in responding to feedback.

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