Are Your Employees Doing Good Work?

April 26, 2024

TRANSFORMING
WORK

WITH
SOPHIE WADE

Are Your Employees Doing Good Work?

Are Your Employees Doing Good Work?

Dr Zofia Bajorek is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Employment Studies (UK). She was HR Magazine’s Most Influential Thinker in 2022 and 2023. Zofia’s recent work has focused on the quality of work to improve workforce health and wellbeing. She describes why giving employees good quality work improves results, why good work matters and what it comprises. Zofia explains how good management contributes significantly to employee retention and well-being.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[02:33] Zofia studied psychology to understand how people think, as well as behavior change, why and how we do things.

[04:17] Zofia’s Master’s focuses on the Future of Work and occupational stress/health at work.

[05:03] Zofia is curious about temporary work arrangements after her own—voluntary—experience.

[06:18] Temporary workers’ different agency and autonomy affects their experiences and health.

[08:01] Zofia’s PhD analyzes temporary staff management and patient care in NHS emergency departments.

[08:47] Possible safety/quality effects when emergency dept. employees get temporary assignments.

[09:42] NHS ‘bank’ and agency staff differences highlight many important talent management nuances.

[11:56] A systems approach to analyzing the UK’s ‘Speedy Summary Justice” – the promise.

[12:45] The effect of disconnects in a system that is overworked, underpaid, and understaffed.

[13:50] The practical reality of human messiness and how organizations and people work.

[15:02] Evidence shows workers’ health and wellbeing affects their productivity and retention.

[16:00] Q: What interventions make the biggest difference to employees’ health and well-being?

[16:50] A: Good management and good employment relationships are the most impactful.

[18:05] In 2006, two researchers discover “Work IS good for your health IF it’s good quality work.”

[18:26] People don’t really know what good quality work is.

[19:27] Good work includes: varied tasks that match interests and skills, co-collaboration, having a voice, autonomy and a fair work environment, with growth opportunities and strong work relationships.

[22:50] “Secure work” depends on the contractual arrangement—imposed or two-way.

[24:24] To achieve a healthy workplace with engaged employees, good quality work is essential.

[25:42] An important factor is someone’s choice about the work they have and can do.

[26:27] Zero-hour contracts are detrimental when managed badly with no communication or flexibility.

[27:28] Freelancers can have good choices: clients, autonomy, relationships, and interesting work.

[28:48] Empathizing is important to discover what encourages people to work, their values, what they bring to the workplace.

[30:26] Companies with embedded focus on wellbeing and good work pre-pandemic were able to transition well through and beyond the crisis.

[31:36] Good management practices including consistent communication, listening, and workplace policies.

[32:15] Zofia shares some examples of data points companies can colligate to increase understanding of their employees’ well-being.

[37:32] The challenges facing organizations are numerous, but a lot of the change can be addressed with good management practices.

[43:55] Young and old want the same thing from the workplace, but demographic pressures are changing the face of retirement.

[47:46] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Good work requires good managers. Ensure those promoted to managerial positions have people management skills and technical excellence. They need training, coaching support, and feedback to help them continue to improve.

QUOTES

“If we don't look after people's health and well-being in the workplace it can have an impact on both retention and productivity levels.”

“Work is good for your health, but there is a strong caveat that it has to be good quality work. And that is where we are still struggling because people don't know what good quality work is.”

“Every human has fluctuating mental health. But what's important for the workplace is that work doesn't make it worse.”

“If you want good work and good health, you have to have good management.”