Labour

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, […]

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    The side effect of treating higher education as a commodity: less free expression

The side effect of treating higher education as a commodity: less free expression

Thoughts, by Sgt. Pepper57, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
Last week a student I teach at a UK university wrote to my employers to propose that I should be sacked. My pedagogical crime was to change a slide on my power point presentation the day before the lecture. The student also raised his concerns that I move around the room during the […]

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 […]

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 […]

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    What does migration have to do with England’s chances in Euro 2016?

What does migration have to do with England’s chances in Euro 2016?

Although England have performed well in Euro 2016 so far, the betting markets still put them some distance behind the favourites for the tournament, Spain, France and Germany. Why is there such a low probability of England winning Euro 2016? Of course there are many reasons but an important one has been downplayed so far: migration. Freedom of movement […]

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    In sports, as in business, limited attention affects risk-taking behaviour

In sports, as in business, limited attention affects risk-taking behaviour

People typically focus on the left-most digit of a number and pay only partial attention to other digits. This is why most prices in supermarkets are just below unit values (such as 99 cent or 3.99 pounds). In World Cup alpine ski events, this human tendency to pay only limited attention to certain digits makes athletes liable to take […]

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    Online job auctions are more successful when bids are open for all to see

Online job auctions are more successful when bids are open for all to see

The “gig” economy is here. Companies like Freelancer.com and Upwork connect millions of freelancers with employers for on-demand work. According to a national survey conducted by research firm Edelman Berland in partnership with Upwork, 34 million people in the U.S. — approximately one in three workers — now work as freelancers. Those freelancers work as software developers, graphical designers, […]

Working in the cloud means working all the time

Technological advancements, such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation or Big Data are often considered major drivers for the future of work. Current debate on this topic mostly focuses on which tasks and jobs will be delegated to machines and how employees can deal with the uncertainty of career choice. In a recent report, the World Economic Forum provides […]