This analysis is based on findings from the British 2012 Skills and Employment Survey. This is a survey of workers’ skills, employment experiences and wellbeing. In total, some 3200 workers completed the survey from across Great Britain.
We asked whether it was possible to identify a small number of categories or types of jobs that could summarise relationships between work and employment practices that make up ‘good’ (or ‘bad’) jobs for wellbeing. This kind of cluster analysis is used in many areas to identify people or things that are similar – such as in market research to identify people with similar tastes or shopping habits.
This analysis makes it possible for high-level analysis of these categories – we were also interested in whether such categories are different in terms of the wellbeing of workers in each category, and whether there are differences between categories in terms of factors such as gender, age, occupation, sector and region in the UK. If there are notable patterns in the analyses, then there is a basis for more detailed investigation.
Workers with better wellbeing, better work-life balance and more positive attitudes to work are in jobs characterised by high work involvement, skill use, training and development opportunities, team working, information sharing, regular performance appraisals and job security.
Although workers with such jobs appear to experience more demands at work than other workers, it appears the positive features of their work offset higher work demands. It does not seem to matter whether workers receive performance-related pay or not.
These high quality jobs tend to be associated with managerial, professional, associate professional and technical work.
However, we find evidence that all occupational types can experience high work involvement, skill use, training and development opportunities, team working, information sharing, and receive regular performance appraisals. It may be possible to create or develop high quality jobs for many occupations.
We noticed differences within groups and across the country:
There are regional differences between the proportion of workers experiencing higher quality and lower quality work.
Younger and older workers tend to experience lower quality work.
High quality jobs are characterised not just by how work and tasks are designed (through for example involvement in decisions and using skills), high quality jobs are also characterised by supporting employment practices such as secure employment contracts, training and development opportunities and good performance management.
Therefore, those seeking to develop high quality jobs need to look at a range of work and employment practices together.