The trends shaping work and working lives

The CIPD is committed to championing better work and working lives, for the benefit of individuals, businesses, economies and society. The unprecedented scale and pace of change in the economy and world of work presents an urgent and critical need to ensure the ways we work, our workforce and workplace cultures are fit for today and drive performance and growth for the future.

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Megatrends reports

The purpose of this report is to highlight some of the key trends that have been shaping our economies and the world of work in order to prompt a debate among practitioners, academics and policy-makers on the implications of change and what the HR profession can do to adapt to change and help shape the future.

In this report we group our analysis of the trends under three broad themes: the changing nature of work; the diverse and changing nature of the workforce; and the changing nature of organisations and the workplace context and environment. These themes will guide our future research, strategic conversations and policy development.

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In our Megatrends report we set out some of the big economic and social trends that have helped to shape work and working life in recent decades, such as deindustrialisation and demographic change. While the future is uncertain, it seems likely that many of these trends will continue to have an impact for years or even decades to come. Equally past trends can stop having an impact – or even go into reverse – and new trends will emerge.

This report considers the 'bread-and-butter' issue of staff turnover, an important metric for all organisations.

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The report asks whether we are seeing a breakdown in trust between organisations and the people who work for them. The report presents data from a wide range of surveys and research documenting recent trends in employee trust in senior management. It analyses the various factors likely to be behind weak employee trust, the implications for organisations when trust is lost, and how trust can be rebuilt.

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The report tackles one of the ‘facts of working life’ in the UK, namely the long-term trend for pay to rise faster than prices. Since 2009, this trend has come to a halt. Depending on the measure of inflation used, average regular weekly earnings (excluding bonuses) are now between 8% and 10.4% lower in real terms than in January 2009. This has not happened before for at least half a century and quite probably much longer. A summary of the key findings is also included.

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The report asks whether we are working harder than ever. Using evidence from different surveys measuring work intensity over the last 20 years the report suggests that employees seem to think they are working harder than ever. However this is not due to longer hours but a sense that work is becoming a more intense experience. There are now greater workloads and pressures to meet deadlines, customer demands and performance targets.

The effects of the recession and greater job insecurity have also played a part in creating extra pressures for some employees. As well as technological change and the expectations of customers and service users have made work more demanding. The report offers a range of potential explanations and concludes with a summary of the implications for employees, employers and public policy.

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The report examines whether UK organisations are getting better at managing their people. The report highlights the importance of good quality management and the need to improve leadership and management skills which is crucial to employee and corporate well-being. The report explores the evidence through a variety of sources and offers a number of potential explanations and outlines the implications for employers and employees.

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Megatrends podcast

Focusing on the CIPD Megatrends report, this episode focuses on the four key issues businesses will need to address in the future; job turnover, pay rises, trust and workloads.

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