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Good Work?

My aim is to post on a more regular basis from now on. All comments welcome.

I was interested by the recent news that the Welsh government had used some research by the New Economic Foundation (NEF) (1) on what was a “good job” as a part of their national indicators (2), they used the words “Percentage of people moderately or very satisfied with their jobs”. The definition that was developed by NEF was “everyone should be able to find secure, stable employment that pays at least enough to provide a decent standard of living.” While both definitions are a good start, it got me thinking about what is a “good” job. What about, the other parts of your job that make you come into your workplace and feel that you are valued and respected and that allow you to get on with your job.

I know from my job, what makes it good is having control over the way I do my job and the amount of flexibility I have to carry out my role against the needs of my family e.g. being able pick up from school. But I also decided to speak to colleagues from other companies in different sectors and here is a summary of what they thought is a “good” job;

  • Security – regular hours/ minimum contract / permanent position / same pay monthly
  • Flexibility – Support if I need to leave work to attend a school function or event, work from home with sick children, etc.
  • Appreciation – simple gesture of thanks from your manager or employer including ways to show your appreciation of the team you work in.
  • Involvement – involving staff in all aspects of the organisation and its decision making.
  • Support – working in a supportive environment, being given help and support and being helped and supported in turn and being expected to give support where needed.
  • People – fostering and developing bonds, one of the biggest reasons people said why they would not want to leave where they work is the people they work with.
  • Money – Being paid a fair wage, for what you do – this is not necessarily a great wage, but perceived to be fair and just, if you compare your workload and pay to another user in a similar role or company.

The amount people were paid wasn’t their top criterion on what makes a good job. I make no claim of any conclusive proof on the views I collected, but it is similar to what patients who use our advice services say they want; security, flexibility, control and appreciation in their job. These kinds of issues are the ones that contribute to maintaining people’s health and wellbeing.

NEF state in their research “Wellbeing and health have both seen improvements, but the underlying structure of the UK’s economy has allowed inequality to widen. Economic recovery since 2008 has meant a rise in overall employment, but at the same time, the proportion of people in secure, decently-paid jobs has fallen”

A recent report from the CIPD (3) recently noted that only 8% of workplaces have a standalone health and wellbeing strategy, which does tend to confirm our experience that most employers view wellbeing as an-add on “or nice to have” activity.

So with a chance of a recession being 50/50 according to many economists following our exit from the EU, is the proportion of people employed in “good” jobs going to go down or are we going to see employers look again about giving their employees an environment where they feel that they can be productive whatever the economic outlook.

  1. NEF: http://www.neweconomics.org/publications/entry/five-headline-indicators-of-national-success
  2. Welsh government: National indicator for Wales 2016
  3. Miller J, Suff R. growing the health and agenda: from first steps to full potential. London: CIPD. 2016

 

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Fit notes and sickness absence

Two interesting documents arrived in my inbox today, An evaluation of fit notes from an employees perspective by the DWP: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rports2013-2014/rrep840.pdf

and the 2013 Sickness Absence and Rehabilitation Survey 2013 by EEF:

http://www.westfieldhealth.com/pdfs/EEF/survey/EEF-Sickness-Absence-Survey-2013.pdf

 What is interesting is the difference in perception when talking about how well (or not!) fit notes are issued and used. The DWP report talks about the majority of GPs and employers having understood the types of changes in work that would be helpful to employees, while the EEF report shows that there are a substantial number of employers who feel that fit notes are not helping their employees to return to work earlier.  What the DWP report does show is that only a small percentage of fit notes issued gave information on what kind of help their patient needed to return to work. The EEF report suggests that the GP is solely responsible in ensuring that employees return to work as early as possible. While I’m not comparing like with like in terms of the two reports, I suspect that the realities of how effective fit notes are in returning employees back to work lie somewhere in the middle of these 2 reports.

 An employer has a duty of care to their employees to ensure that their health is not affected by their work and for an employee to take a responsible approach to managing their health so it doesn’t affect their work. The GP sits in the middle to give advice and support that should be beneficial to both the patient and their employer.

 There is no doubt that GPs need to get a better understanding of their patients job and the effect it is having on their health and to relate that to what they put on a fit note. Employers need to understand better that they have a responsibility to their employees to ensure that their work doesn’t make them ill.