Labour

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    Work improves general happiness, but are you happy while you work?

Work improves general happiness, but are you happy while you work?

Most research on happiness relies on surveys that ask people to reflect back on and evaluate their experiences ‘these days’ or ‘nowadays’. In doing so, respondents usually attach weight to events that are related to their overall sense of wellbeing or satisfaction with their lives.

These studies find consistent evidence that paid work contributes substantially to overall life satisfaction and […]

Changing jobs does not necessarily bring you happiness

Image by geralt, under a CC0 licence
Searching and hiring workers imposes high costs on firms, not least when it comes to vacancies that need to be filled with extraordinary talents. Once a worker is hired, it is important to ensure a successful integration of the newcomer. The key process here is organisational socialisation, which renders a new worker, who […]

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    From gratitude to resentment: The downside of working from home

From gratitude to resentment: The downside of working from home

Office work, by Unsplash, under a CC0 licence
It’s common for employers keen to promote a healthy modern workplace culture to offer at least some degree of flexible working to employees, whether they are parents who duck out of the office early to make the school run, those faced with lengthy commutes or even employees who simply wish to stay […]

Flourishing at work is all about relationships

StoryCorps 2009/2010, by Alejandro De La Cruz, under a CC-BY-NC-2.0 licence
Pressing deadlines, endless meetings, micro-managing bosses. . . workplace stressors often leave employees feeling mentally drained and physically exhausted. But can we go from languishing to flourishing at work? Our recently published paper says: Yes! The key is to form positive work relationships. Based on over 200 stories we collected from […]

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    Alienated, under pressure and target driven: Why we need to make friends at work

Alienated, under pressure and target driven: Why we need to make friends at work

Support, by Ondřej Lipár, under a CC-BY-SA-2.0 licence

“Attachment is a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space”  (John Bowlby, Attachment & Loss 1969)

The book Intelligent Kindness describes workplace dysfunction when it interrogates the consequence of alienated, highly pressurised and target-driven workers. The book was concerned with the evasion of political, moral and ethical […]

The focus on exam grades is failing the next generation

High-school pupils in Szczecin, Poland, waiting to write a matura exam, 2005, by Marcin Otorowski and Oskar Błaszkowski, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons
The end of August, and the results for the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) are out. Over the sound of nervous heartbeats and tearing envelopes we hear that these are the worst results in 25 years, […]

What does ‘decent work’ mean to low-paid workers?

Street workers, Tokyo, by damon jah, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
Studying ‘decent work’

The nature and experience of work, as well as security and rewards from it, have all changed significantly in recent decades. While a quick glance at British headline unemployment rates in recent years might suggest a healthy labour market, this masks a number of underlying trends. Increasingly, large numbers of […]

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    New online live music agencies have oversized power over musicians

New online live music agencies have oversized power over musicians

North Charleston 4th of July Festival, by North Charleston, under a CC-BY-SA-2.0 licence
The impact of the internet on recorded music is well-known, as are its effects on elements of live music such as ticketing and broadcasting of performances. But here I will write about something that has been less well-documented: the way new web platforms affect the labour market for […]

September 29th, 2016|Charles Umney, Labour|1 Comment|

Does profiling employees online overstep the boundaries?

Desk-office-working-computer, Pexels, CC0 licence
A new study has revealed that 27 per cent of employees have witnessed their employer using online information to ‘profile’ job applicants. Approximately 55 per cent of organisations now have a policy about profiling. Despite its increased practice, however, most employees are not comfortable with being profiled. Over 60 per cent believe they have a right […]

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    Managed care models are hurting the UK’s mental health system

Managed care models are hurting the UK’s mental health system

Smiley emoticon, by geralt, Pixabay, CCO licence
Although neoliberal economic theory purports to promote equality through unfettered free enterprise, this is based upon a false premise. We are not ‘all in it together.’ The inequality between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ means that everyone does not start from the same position. In fact, as many eminent economists, including leaders at the […]

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    ICT skills are substantially rewarded in modern labour markets

ICT skills are substantially rewarded in modern labour markets

Laptop mobile, Pexels, CC0 licence
“The new literacy” is the term Neelie Kroes, former Vice President of the European Commission, uses to describe an individual’s skill in mastering information and communication technologies (ICT). She continues to explain that “the online world is becoming a bigger part of everything we do. No wonder these [ICT] skills are becoming central in the […]

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    Working from home: idea that workers who aren’t visible are slacking off is outdated

Working from home: idea that workers who aren’t visible are slacking off is outdated

Pexels, under a CC0 licence
Long commutes are a bleak fact of working life – but do they have to be? The laptop in your bag and phone in your pocket are sufficient for most kinds of office work. Even so, we insist on carting our devices with us, through rain and traffic, just to sit at a desk that’s […]

What gets measured gets distorted

Real Leadership

Something strange is happening to leadership at work. The old truths don’t seem to work anymore. Today’s leaders are not really sure which way to go. It used to be seen that every ‘leader’ needed ‘followers’, a hierarchy where people saw their future in the organisation and compliance was the order of the day. When insecurity crept in, […]

Self-employment is precarious work

Coming from a trade union and mental health background, I’m familiar with the drill of being wheeled out to deliver bad news. Last week I was invited to join a discussion about the sharing economy for the BBC’s Talking Business. Is the ‘new’ sharing economy of Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit – the love children of social enterprise and digital […]

How can you maintain your sanity in a toxic workplace?

There is no question that workplaces have taken a perverse turn, and I mean that in its brutal Freudian sense. We live in a society where receiving chemotherapy means you are fit for work and ‘toxic leadership’ has become a mainstream topic on business school curricula. A lot of working life is just unfair.

As precarious work grows, most of […]

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    The HR literature won’t give you a complete picture of employee voice

The HR literature won’t give you a complete picture of employee voice

For many years, Employment Relations scholars (with whom we identify) adopted the view articulated by Freeman and Medoff (1984) that collective mechanisms of employee voice could channel worker discontent so as to reduce the desire of dissatisfied workers to exit. They saw trade unions as the best agents to provide such voice, as they were formally independent of the […]

When it’s not your job to be friendly with clients

Customer service outrage. The phrase instantly conjures up stories of customers being ripped off, mistreated and rudely dismissed by sales staff. Yet we rarely stop to consider a different side to the story and examine the experiences of the thousands of workers in retail and hospitality, who deal with offensive, intimidating and humiliating treatment from customers on a daily […]

Some workers win, others lose from currency depreciation

“When the exchange rate rises, it gets more difficult for firms to export. The loss in international competitiveness forces firms to shed local jobs and move their activities abroad.” This line of argument is probably a good summary of how the public (and policymakers) would assess the effects of exchange rates on the economy. Recent economic research, including our […]

The UK suffers a shortage of nurses

A year ago, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) reviewed part of the country’s ‘shortage occupation list’ (SOL). The SOL features job titles and occupations with priority for Tier 2 work visas for skilled migrants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). Migrants in such jobs do not have to earn the minimum £35,000 pay threshold that is now required […]

Personality influences individual productivity and wages

Why do some people earn more than others? Do they deserve it? We already know that workers with higher educational levels and more experience have higher salaries. Traditionally, economists have linked higher education levels to higher cognitive abilities and deeper human capital; these in turn make individuals more productive in the workplace. However, there is still a piece of […]