Introduction

As we face a future of greater automation, an ageing workforce, continual change and dynamism across sectors, creating good work and quality jobs is a priority. This may be affected by a range of factors, including HR practices, the quality of people management as well as the workers themselves. The CIPD’s annual UK Working Lives survey sets out to examine these factors, using seven critical dimensions of job quality. The resulting work equips policy makers, business leaders and managers as well as individuals, with evidence and recommendations by which they can raise job quality and improve working lives.

This concise briefing is a supplement to the main report and is designed to provide people practitioners with an overview of the key findings, as contextualised for London. By drawing out the most notable data for each aspect of job quality, together with charts and ‘practice pointers’, this briefing directs focus towards the most essential issues for action. We encourage organisations to use these insights alongside the more detailed analysis of the main report to drive engagement and improvement in these critical aspects of practice, which in turn will support the growth of quality jobs for all.


1. Work-life balance and flexible working

  • London has the highest use of flexitime among UK nations and regions (37% vs 34% UK average). 

  • The capital also has by far the highest use of working from home (42% vs 30% UK average).  

  • Workers are most likely to be offered flexible working up front when offered the job (30% vs 26% UK average).

Practice pointers

  • Review the business case and objectives for flexible working at your organisation. Is what you currently have in place fit for purpose? 

  • Identify facilitators and barriers to flexible working and actionable solutions. 

  • Review the flexible working options you offer and compare them with the options actually used. 

  • Redesign jobs to allow for flexible working as part of your core strategy. 

  • Ensure policies, communications, and guidelines around flexible working are clear, consistent, and provide channels for feedback and ideas.   

2. Pay and benefits

  • London workers have the highest median salary at £32,782, over a third above the UK average of £24,000. 

  • London has 30% of workers in the highest paid pay band compared with 20% for other regions.

  • Yet workers in the capital are slightly less satisfied with their pay than those in other UK nations and regions (44% v 45% UK average).

Practice pointers

  • Update your pay and benefits strategy/approach relative to the marketplace, based on your current and expected demand for talent. Ensure they are fair and equitable across your workforce.

  • Review your pay and benefit structure against organisational objectives and realign where required.

  • Check your pay practices against the National Living Wage and take action as required.

  • Update your workforce planning to take account of variations in pay and benefit levels in different locations.

  • Particularly if raising pay is not an option, consider boosting your benefits package through partnerships with suppliers etc.

  • Pay attention to pensions. Make sure your employees are aware of the need to save for the future and the proportions they need to save. 

3. Contracts

  • London has the highest proportion of full-time workers at 72%. The average among UK nations and regions is 61%.

  • 5% of London-based workers have worked in the gig economy in the last year compared with 3% UK average.
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Practice pointers

  • Ensure written employment contracts capture all key terms and conditions of employment, including employment status and associated rights, and are kept up to date.

  • Align employment contracts with your organisational objectives, values, and workforce planning.

  • Have clear policies and guidelines for managers on when to use different types of contracts.

  • If zero-hours contracts are used, ensure responsible use and be aware of the legal issues.

  • If additional capacity is needed, bring in the underemployed on more hours first. It will save on recruitment while providing enhanced employment and earnings opportunities.

4. Skills, autonomy and development

  • Workers in London are most likely to think their job develops their skills (55% vs 49% UK average). They are also most likely to view their job as good for their career (35% vs 29% UK average).

  • London workers are most likely to frequently undertake complex tasks (49% vs 47% UK average).

  • Along with those in Scotland, workers in London see themselves as most overworked (33% vs 32% UK average).

  • Along with those in Wales, London workers are most likely to have opportunities to learn new things in their jobs (45% vs 42% UK average).

Practice pointers

  • Audit your workforce skills and capabilities; where possible, capture information on learning activities, their application, and impact on job to drive learning analytics. If you are a small firm this may be a spreadsheet with people’s skills and qualifications. In any setting, note any special abilities, interests, volunteering commitments etc as these may unlock additional opportunities and capabilities.

  • Talk to people directly and via their managers about their knowledge, skills, aspirations and development opportunities in their jobs. Commitment to growing talent internally can be an attractive employee value proposition.

  • Consider making more/better use of apprenticeships.

  • Ensure your learning and development strategy enables achievement of organisational objectives and makes the best use of emergent learning technologies and approaches.

  • Make it clear and easy for employees to access and sign up for learning and development supported/delivered by the organisation; identify and take advantage of relevant, applicable, free learning provided by third parties.

  • Innovation is critical. Skills, autonomy and development can drive innovation. Don’t be boxed in by titles and roles as you seek to innovate on products or processes. Tap into the insight and expertise of the whole workforce.

5. Relationships at work

  • Workers in London are more likely to feel that mistakes will be held against them (20% vs 18% UK average). Workers in Scotland and the East of England however fare slightly worse.

  • Workers are less likely to report good relationships with clients and customers than others in the UK nations and regions (67% compared with 74%). 

  • London has the highest proportion of workers saying their manager respects them (77% vs 73% UK average). London workers are also most likely to say their line manager is good at getting people to work together (56% vs 53% UK average).  

Practice pointers

  • Clearly articulate your organisation’s purpose and objectives, and ensure its values are current, relevant and memorable.

  • Encourage a learning culture and lead it from the top. Give room for people to experiment and try new methods. Celebrate successes, but also provide safety for sharing failures and growing from lessons learnt.

  • Develop, support and enable managers to be people-oriented in their role as team leaders.

  • Make sure your organisational development and change strategies recognise the value of relationships and networks, where real value can be cultivated.

6. Voice

  • Workers in the capital are most positive among nations and regions about managers seeking the views of employees and their representatives (45% vs 40% UK average).

  • Despite having lower levels of collective representation (17% vs 20% UK average), London workers are more likely to see unions and staff associations as good at seeking the views of employees (43% vs 39% UK average).

  • They also are more likely to view unions as being good at keeping employees informed (39% vs 35% UK average) despite the relatively low level of unionisation.

Practice pointers

  • Value employee voice. Emerging research shows that enabling people to speak up creates a better and more productive workplace.

  • Be mindful of managers’ role in enabling or inhibiting voice. One way is to remind leaders at big meetings to speak less and listen more. Run an open session on what’s good or bad around the workplace.

  • Consider supporting an organised form of employee voice and consult on whether this should be a union or an internal forum.

  • Look at your internal communications strategy and make sure it involves receiving as well as transmitting.

7. Health and well-being

  • Workers are the most positive among the nations and regions about work’s impact on their mental health (45% positive vs 40% UK average).

  • London workers are most likely to feel energetic in their workplace (34% vs 32% UK average). 

  • However, they are also most likely among all nations and regions to be always/often bored (17% vs 14% UK average).

Practice pointers

  • Create a health and well-being strategy for your organisation and a communication plan to raise awareness; this is a key driver of candidate attraction and employee retention.

  • Launch regular campaigns focused on targeted areas of employee health and well-being, supported by employee health and well-being champions.

  • Provide guidance and support to leaders and managers on how to most effectively manage and support, the health and well-being of their teams.

  • Create opportunities for employee involvement in and feedback on health and well-being initiatives.

  • Gather and analyse data on the health and well-being of employees; identify risks and opportunities for action.

  • Ensure adequate support, enablement, and care for employees working with physical and/or mental health issues.

Conclusion

This short, practice-focused briefing outlines the major findings from CIPD’s UK Working Lives, highlighting the comparisons between London and other UK nations and regions. Employers and people professionals can use the practice pointers to explore the dimensions of job quality within their teams and consider the recommended actions. Why not establish a ‘Job Quality’ group in your organisation and use the main report and these insights for London to benchmark your progress?

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