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What does good work mean for you?

Blog 77 Comments

I’m leading the Review of Modern Employment for UK Government and I am determined that the Review will be bold and offer a comprehensive strategy for a better work future.

I decided early on that tackling exploitation, confusion and perverse incentives in work would only be likely if we all care as much about the quality of employment as about its quantity.

Good work is something the RSA cares about deeply.

We need a good work economy because

  1. Most people in poverty are already in work.

  2. Bad work is bad for people’s health and wellbeing

  3. Bad work is more likely to be low productivity work and thus bad for the economy

  4. Automation will impact the future of work 

  5. Bad work – with no choice or voice for workers – just feels wrong in 2017

But if good work for all is to become a reality, I need to show that there is strong support in civil society and the wider public for this goal.

The RSA wants you to talk about what good work means to you.

We have a few weeks to persuade whoever wins the next election that good work matters.

Post a video on Facebook or Twitter using #GoodWorkIs to tell us what good work means for you

Or comment below to share your conversation about good work

Join the discussion

77 Comments

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  • Not sure what your definition of 'bad work' is but:

    Good work is mutual respect between employer and employee.

    Good work has a value in society, not monetary,  e,g, pride in ones work whether you are a teacher, waiter or banker.  The lead for this has to come from the top.

    Good work has high standards allied to quality of work form a smile at reception to project managing a complicated engineering project.

  • The RSA clips on David Graeber  "we need a revolution in the way we think about work and Types of bullshit jobs and the role of work in our society " lay out the problems beautifully

    from my own perspective am amazed at the talk of immigration when automation is cutting jobs at a rate of 5 to 1 with emigration , if it was not for eastern European workers the manual part of farming and forestry would collapse partly because there is a predisposition to laborious work and dexterity there and partly because they e=are easy to exploit

    the standard of the food industry restaurants and hotels and service industry has soared over the last two decades thanks to influx of non British citizens 

    small businesses self employed and stand alone individuals   are more efficient more productive creative and innovative than large institutions 

    taking about how large scale automation improves quality of life another video clip would be "Argentina the country Monsanto Poisoned "

  • 'Good work' for me is an activity, paid or unpaid, where I am contributing to the achievement of a wider goal and my contribution is acknowledged and valued. I am also encouraged to enhance my skills in order to either improve my delivery of existing work,  or be in a position to take on additional responsibilities.

    Having had a long-standing career in the charity sector, my driving goal would be something that is socially useful.  That would not be the case for everybody and that is fine if the goal means something to an individual.

    Even where an individual is working as a ' means to an end', I still feel a sense of purpose provides improved job satisfaction.

    An additional factor would be security of employment.  This is ideal, but not always possible.  Receiving a notice of potential redundancy on 1st January has been a regular occurrence in my working life due to the short-term funding within my sector.  In this scenario, constant communication with those affected is critical along with support in securing alternative employment.

    It is worth remembering that for some people retirement can mean becoming invisible as a person and feeling that you do not belong anywhere - society does not recognise your skills or your potential value to the community.  This is not a good place to be and initiatives are being developed to address this issue.

    I suspect that some employees feel invisible in their workplace and that they are not valued.  A national strategy to change  bad employment/management practice could improve this situation.



  • Having read the comments as their number grows, I still do not see a definition of good work. Good employment practices, yes, and pay and conditions, and some notions of fulfilment. 


    In mixed economies, wealth and work and jobs are created by market-based businesses in the private sector. Some people get paid a lot and have good environments to work in, others get paid less, some become self-employed and others are on casual contracts paid hourly. Unless we are to dictate that everyone should get paid high wages, be given paid holiday and other benefits, I don't see how the remuneration aspect of this will change much. And if governments try to force this through, there will be fewer jobs created. 

    Then there is the public sector where people work 35 hours a week, receive generous pensions, can retire at 55 and get 6 weeks paid holiday. They do not as such create wealth but are rather paid from other people's taxes. One would think public service workers should be ecstatically happy, but a lot of them seem not to, peeved and frustrated by boredom and petty management.


    I think that people who are unhappy in their jobs are so because of either low pay or not enough work to begin with; or are bored and dislike their managers and bureaucracy. Or disagreeable colleagues.

    I'd warn against trying to use government intervention in the private sector as this will most likely cause a fall in jobs available. By contrast, if the government and councils want to be better employers let them. But beware that public sector jobs become so sought-after that nothing moves like, day, in France.

    I'm sorry Matthew, but I see this as being mostly about pay and conditions. Fulfilment and collaboration would be good, but it comes a distant second to being able to work at all and pay the bills.






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