Good Work Plan: What should your HR priorities be

The recently published Good Work Plan does not yet clarify what constitutes 'fair and decent work' but points to the priority job quality measures defined by the RSA and Carnegie Trust. It also pre-warns employers to start focusing on their:

Employee engagement

The Taylor Review highlighted the link between a motivated, engaged and empowered workforce and increased productivity. The Good Work Plan commits to lowering the threshold required for employees to request information and consultation arrangements from 10 per cent to 2 per cent, with a minimum of 15 employees making the request. The regulations give employees the right (subject to certain conditions) to ask that their employer sets up or changes arrangements to inform and consult them about issues in the organisation. 

The Plan also wants employers to be pro-active about employee engagement and is looking to people management experts to provide guidance on the best way to achieve this. Some advocate more employee involvement in decision making, based on findings that job satisfaction is linked to a clear sense of purpose: the more employees understand about the organisation, where it is going and how they contribute to the journey, the more engaged they will be. 

Employee development 

There is a well-documented link between workforce development and employee engagement. To stay motivated, employees need to:

  • feel they have the right skills for the job requirements; and
  • to see a clear progression path. 

The Good Work Plan commits government to providing increased training and retraining opportunities, but employee development cannot be limited to formal learning if it is to achieve both. As previously highlighted, business agility demands an institutional commitment to learning and development as well as a strategic approach to people management based on:

  1. a defined people strategy aligned to the organisation’s business objectives;
  2. regular development discussions as part of performance management; and 
  3. pro-active talent management and succession planning. 

Employee wellbeing 

The Taylor Review highlighted wellbeing as one of the five fundamental defining principles of good quality work, encompassing both physical and mental health. The relationship between productive work and mental health is also reflected in the World Health Organization definition of mental health:

A state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community

The RSA and Carnegie Trust currently recommend measuring employee wellbeing by asking whether work caused or contributed to any physical injury or anxiety or depression in a 12 months period. Although it provides a simple benchmark, the question doesn’t provide any answers as to the root cause of the issue, should the answer be positive.

Management training is key

Organisational culture and day-to-day people management define the organisation’s approach to employee engagement, development and well-being. Investing in managers development will ensure that they become more aware of the link between their management practices and their staff motivation and engagement and how best to maximise it. Embedding good management standards will also most likely help organisations score well on their 'good work' metrics, thus helping them become employers (and brand) of choice and attracting greater talent. A positive move for productivity, organisational growth and innovation.

If you would like more information on how your organisation can benefit from employee engagement surveys and management training, please contact Caroline Bellanger Wood