UNION

How good is my job?

Pay and conditions - 21 Jan 2020

Alan Felstead, Cardiff University

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The quality of jobs varies. 

Some allow workers greater voice, better work-life balance and enhanced promotion prospects.  While others provide workers with lower job security, poorer management support and lower pay.  However, we often do not know for sure in what ways and to what extent job quality varies.  This means that judgements about job quality are often made on flimsy, and even hearsay, evidence. 

To produce some more robust evidence, GMB has teamed up with researchers from Cardiff University to produce and promote a quiz on job quality. 

The campaigning quiz has two aims.   First, it is designed to promote the GMB to new members and prompt them to join up.  Secondly, it offers a way of collecting anonymous data on the working lives of all those who take the quiz, regardless of whether they are GMB members or not. 

By asking workers about certain aspects of their job, the quiz will provide a unique insight into the working lives of those who take part.
 

Anxiety over unexpected changes to working hours goes hand-in-hand with other features of poor work.  The pay of these workers tends to be lower, work intensity higher, line management support weaker, and the threat of dismissal and job loss greater.

There are periodic national surveys of job quality which question representative samples of workers about their jobs.  These surveys provide insights into the changing world of work.  For example, these surveys show that Zero Hours Contracts are the tip of the insecurity iceberg.  Estimates suggest that there are three times as many employees who are very anxious about unexpected changes to their hours of work than there are employees on Zero Hours Contracts. 

Also anxiety over unexpected changes to working hours goes hand-in-hand with other features of poor work.  The pay of these workers tends to be lower, work intensity higher, line management support weaker, and the threat of dismissal and job loss greater. 

In addition, these surveys show that since 2006 the speed of work has increased – an extra 7 percentage points were added between 2006 and 2017 to the proportion reporting that they work at very high speed for three-quarters or more of their time.

However, these national surveys are of little help to individual workers who wish to benchmark their job quality against their peers in terms of, say, line management support or work intensity. This quiz aims to meet this need.  It consists of a short set of empirically validated survey questions. 

In exchange, all quiz takers are presented with a ‘job quality results dashboard’ which benchmarks their job against those in similar occupations as well as against the average job in Britain across ten domains.  The comparator data for the quiz are taken from two national surveys carried out by the Cardiff University-led research team in 2012 and 2017.

By asking workers about certain aspects of their job, the quiz will provide a unique insight into the working lives of those who take part.

The campaign version of the quiz builds on an earlier quiz designed by the research team. Over 25,000 individuals took the original quiz in the first six months of its launch in mid-2018 and by mid-2019 40,000 had taken part. 

For campaigning purposes, the original quiz has been redesigned to include questions on trade union membership, a promotional pop-up screen shown to non-GMB quiz takers who fall within the GMB’s footprint and a ‘Join the GMB’ reminder button on the results page.  The campaign version of the quiz is also being promoted and used by the NUJ, but no other trade unions are involved.

All the data is anonymised and no personal details are collected.  The data generated will be used by the Cardiff University research team to write reports for the two sponsoring trade unions.

 

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