Let's Make Work 'Good Work'

Let's Make Work 'Good Work'

Last summer Matthew Taylor published a report on behalf of the Government. Matthew is the current chief executive of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce commonly known as the RSA. The RSA’s mission is 21st century enlightenment. The report was called Good Work. A few days ago, I was in Matthew’s company and had the pleasure to hear him speak. I was impressed with what he said and how he said it. 

The Good Work report examines the issues facing the United Kingdom as our world of work changes:

  • Technology is creating new ways of working e.g. flexible working in terms of both hours worked and people’s relationships with firms.
  • These new ways of working are challenging the legal status that people have at work e.g. being classified as an employee vs worker vs self-employed.
  • These challenges are leading to important definitions being made in our courts of law.
  • Put these into the pot of constant mixed messages concerning our economy, higher customer demands, the tensions between globalisation and protectionism, low productivity and Brexit and we can see why work is such a challenging place to be these days.
  • And I haven’t even mentioned the threat to jobs due to robotisation and artificial intelligence. 

Clearly, the world of work is changing. But is it changing for the better?

What I like about the Good Work report, known more widely as the Taylor Review, is that it focuses on our need to focus on providing people with meaningful work. My take is that if we do this then there is more chance of us overcoming the challenges I’ve highlighted above. 

Here’s where I’m coming from:

At Beyond Theory we firmly believe that work is a force for good. We believe that work provides 3 things for people:

  • Income
  • A sense of purpose
  • A network of friends and colleagues

As a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) I am firmly behind their purpose statement of ‘championing better work and better working lives’. This is a clear statement of intent to improve the lives of working people.

And being heavily involved with the Engage for Success movement I know the positive impact that having highly engaged employees has on productivity, customer experience and profitability. Evidence is all around us that shows when engagement is low things are bad, yet when engagement is high things work beautifully.

So, what can we do to make work 'good work'? 

While the Government reflects and makes its responses to the Good Work report what actions can we take to enable people to feel good about themselves, their work colleagues and their customers whilst at work? Here’s my advice:

  • Ask yourself why does your company exist? What is your company’s purpose? Ask ‘Why’ as many times as you need to discover the answer.
  • Ask your yourself how well do your people understand not just what they do and how they do it but why do they do it? What motivates them? How does their work fit in with your company’s purpose and their sense of purpose?
  • Keep work as interesting and as challenging as possible for the people concerned. Make sure communications are engaging and two-way, providing feedback on progress to maintain interest and motivation. 
  • Focus on the psychological contract that your people have with your company. How well is it viewed by everyone? Is the give and the get in balance? Do you have a culture of entitlement or a culture of purpose?
  • Don’t overlook the physical contract that your people have with your company i.e. their terms and conditions. When were these last reviewed? Are they fit for purpose in an age where the appetite for flexible working is greater than ever?
  • Question yourself about the levels of productivity in your business. If you’re dissatisfied, then ask yourself and others what’s holding your company back. Invest, train and encourage your managers to work alongside their teams to understand what works and what doesn’t.
  • Give your employees a voice, listen and act on what they say. Get them involved as much as you can.
  • Live your company’s values and make sure others do the same. Authenticity is a must as people will tell the difference. 

If you’d like a copy of the Good Work report the let me know. I’ll happily forward you a copy. 


Paul Beesley
Director & Senior Consultant
Beyond Theory

(image used courtesy of The Maids Head Hotel, Norwich)

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