We live in the most uncertain and fast-changing political, economic and social context anyone can remember. Many of the challenges facing the next government in the UK go far beyond the central focus of Brexit negotiations and can be traced back to the failure of the UK economy, despite its many success stories, to truly deliver value across all sectors of society.
We face the challenges of improving productivity and international competitiveness, of investing in and building the skills we need now and for the future, of driving more innovation, and encouraging more agile and responsive businesses that look to the long term and not just maximising the short term.
We need to make much more progress on creating inclusive workplaces and providing opportunities for progression, in a fairer distribution of reward, and in creating working environments that engage our people and support rather than undermine their well-being. And we need to rebuild trust in our leaders, in big business and in our establishment institutions.
At the CIPD, our purpose is to champion better work and working lives — for the benefit of individuals, organisations, economies and society as a whole. We believe work can and should be a force for good that helps society to flourish and prosper. As the professional body for experts in people and work, we have an important role to play in helping our members address these challenges at an organisational level, but we’re calling on the next government to play its part too.
Government plays a critical role in setting the policy and legal frameworks to manage and regulate many different dimensions of work, the workforce and the workplace, efficiently and fairly. But not everything can or should be regulated or sought to be controlled through rules. Government must also play a major role in influencing mindsets and behaviours based on key principles of ethical and sustainable business and employment practice, and in convening and encouraging dialogue, consultation and debate on how we can all influence the future.
We need the next government to play an active role in promoting and supporting the development of ‘good work’ across the economy – for example, by supporting the development and dissemination of advice and guidance for employers on the HR and people management practices that underpin good work, and responsible and ethical employment practices regardless of where or how people work.
Following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, the next two years will be characterised by much uncertainty for our work and home lives. And since work is fundamental to so much of our lives, whether we work in paid employment ourselves or not, we believe that a key focus of this general election and for the next government should be on addressing workplace issues through a much more human lens than ever before. Brexit poses many challenges, not least relating to skills and immigration, but it also creates opportunities. Capitalising on the creativity and potential of our people, or ‘human capital’, can position the UK as the global leader in high-value, high-skills economies, and as a great place to work and do business.