Labour

Future of work: making a living from cutting our own hair?

There is currently much debate on the future of paid employment in light of technological advancements within a range of areas, such as speech recognition, robotics, artificial intelligence, etc. Evocative imagery is presented ranging from a rather prosaic future of self-driving cars and lorries to the digital immortality of bodiless beings. I wish here to emphasise more immediate and […]

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    Future of Work: taking the blinkers off to see new possibilities

Future of Work: taking the blinkers off to see new possibilities

Anybody relying for their information on the current headlines would find it hard to make sense of what is happening in the labour market. On the one hand, the news media are awash with apocalyptic forecasts, often backed up by studies from reputable organisations such as the US National Bureau of Economic Research , the Oxford Martin School or […]

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    Explaining how mindfulness consistently brings positive workplace outcomes

Explaining how mindfulness consistently brings positive workplace outcomes

Mindfulness training has become a hot management trend, as leading organisations like Aetna and British Parliament increasingly offer mindfulness programs for employees. This growth is fuelled by research supporting the benefits of mindfulness for workplace functioning, from focus and burnout to job performance and leadership. Yet this interest has glossed over the almost-comical reality of applying contemplative practices like […]

Work 4.0: How Germany is shaping the future of work

How to shape the future of work

In November 2016, the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, headed by social democrat Andrea Nahles, published the white paper “Work 4.0”. It’s the result of an 18-month dialogue process mapping out the challenges for the world of labour and injecting policy proposals in the political debate. The dialogue involved a wide […]

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    Like second-hand smoke, racial discrimination at work can affect bystanders

Like second-hand smoke, racial discrimination at work can affect bystanders

The toxic effects of racism can extend well beyond the target. Our research reveals that, like second-hand smoke, the negative effects of racial discrimination at work can affect third-party bystanders. This is called ambient racial discrimination, and it includes a range of workplace experiences, such as directly witnessing racial discrimination aimed at others, hearing about racist incidents, seeing graffiti or […]

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    Employees v. entrepreneurs: Have the two categories become irrelevant?

Employees v. entrepreneurs: Have the two categories become irrelevant?

Most debates about work today focus on the joint evolution of entrepreneurs versus employees. Some academics believe we are moving towards an entrepreneurial society. Others focus on the increasing precariousness of work, but clearly qualify the thesis of a move towards an entrepreneurial society. In the context of this short reflexion, we simply want to question the categories themselves.

Entrepreneurs […]

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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 […]

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    A matter of principles: the psychodynamics of solidarity in trade unions

A matter of principles: the psychodynamics of solidarity in trade unions

People walking on gray pavement, by Unsplash, under a CC0 licence
Despite women working in higher education still being paid 12 per cent less than men and half of all teaching staff on precarious contracts, last month 57 per cent of my union’s members voted against taking industrial action over decent pay in education. You don’t need to be an […]

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    The media and policymakers don’t realise that the role of trade unions has expanded

The media and policymakers don’t realise that the role of trade unions has expanded

Teachers, college lecturers and DWP staff on strike, by Roger Blackwell, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
When we think about trade unions there are various images that come to mind. Normally these relate to forms of collective action and strikes, the late night negotiations with employers over pay increases, and the political role they play as in the current internal Labour Party […]

Management teaching promotes inequality

Hult International Business School, by Jay Cross, under a CC-BY-2.o licence
The burgeoning economic inequality between the richest and the poorest across the world is a cause of concern for social, political, and ethical reasons. In 2016 the Oxfam Davos report revealed that 62 people only own the same as half of the world, representing an increase of 38 per cent […]

How we treat those who are excluded from the world of work

UK Job Centre, by J J Ellison, own work, under a CC BY-SA 3.0 licence, via Wikimedia Commons
I, Daniel Blake, the prize-winning film directed by Ken Loach, mounts a powerful and moving challenge to the way vulnerable people are treated in Britain’s welfare system. Predictably, Iain Duncan Smith who as Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) […]

When a psychologist’s true calling is social activism

Small section of the crowd, London G20 protests April 2009, by Kashfi Halford, under a CC-BY-NC-2.0 licence
It all started at the LSE in 1972. I’d just successfully completed a post graduate diploma in social policy to add to my degree in psychology and felt troubled. My degree had mainly covered behaviourism, new research on sensory perception and a sneering glance […]

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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    Perversion at work: organising colleagues against one another

Perversion at work: organising colleagues against one another

Sandro Botticelli – Inferno, Canto XVIII (cropped), Public Domain
Perversion happens even in the best of companies. One can encounter it in education, in big multi-nationals, in handicraft businesses, or in a small neighbourhood store. Yet no matter where a ‘pervert kernel’ crops up, its victims suffer.

Psychoanalysis offers us important tools for understanding the darker side of relational complications in […]

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    The paradox of bullied and frightened workers delivering quality care

The paradox of bullied and frightened workers delivering quality care

Top physician, nurse leaders carve out time for patient care, by Army Medicine, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
As the crisis in health and social care deepens, the paradox of a bullied and frightened workforce delivering quality patient care becomes pronounced. Far from the abstract leadership literature, the management challenge has become how to build functioning teams often within an institutional context […]

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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 […]

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    Healing the rifts between mental health workers and psychiatric survivors

Healing the rifts between mental health workers and psychiatric survivors

Back head, grey hairs, by Philippe Alès, own work, under a CC BY-SA 4.0 licence, via Wikimedia Commons
Many people who have used mental health services, especially if they have experienced compulsory treatment or detention, describe themselves as ‘psychiatric survivors.’ This doesn’t just mean they have survived a mental health crisis, or the damaging circumstances that may have led to it. It also means […]

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    In the absence of proper jobs, therapists turn to precarious work

In the absence of proper jobs, therapists turn to precarious work

Lights, abstract, blur, orange, by littlevisuals.co, under a CC0 licence
A dismayed psychotherapist in the Midlands, struggling to re-build a private practice after a career break, recently came across an advert on Facebook for a local counselling course, promising ‘the career of your dreams’. Inevitably it had elicited an array of likes and questions about how long it takes and how […]

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    Surviving work as an academic in the age of measuring impact

Surviving work as an academic in the age of measuring impact

In everyday use, by David Goehring, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
You might think it odd that a Surviving Work in the UK post is going to be about academics. In some quarters, the view is that our working lives are not like others, without all the blood and guts of ‘real’ jobs. In this view, academics avoid the pitfalls of working […]

The tyranny of satisfaction reigns in organisations

Image by geralt, under a CC0 licence
I begin most of my lectures by telling students I intend to disappoint them. I tell them I look forward to the moment when they realise that I have failed to live up to their expectations of me. Their fantasy of me as the all-knowing, all-powerful leader who will teach them what they […]