As we start taking the first steps towards a post-pandemic world, we all have much to reflect on. The last 17 months or so have been some of the most challenging that any of us have ever experienced – putting incredible pressure on employees, employers, communities and the country as a whole. But where there are challenges, there are also opportunities. Improving our working lives for good is one such opportunity.
For us at the CIPD – the professional body for HR and people development – job quality is at the heart of what we do. Our purpose is to champion better work and working lives, be it through our research and public policy work, our campaigns or HR practitioner support and guidance. We are therefore delighted to have recently formed a strategic partnership with the Fair Work Convention in Scotland. Since its inception, the Convention has driven the fair work agenda in Scotland, setting the course for the Scottish Government through its research and engagement. And while fair work is a well-understood concept across the government and its agencies, translating it into lasting change through employer engagement, guidance and support is what this partnership seeks to support.
The CIPD is very well placed to do this. With around 11,000 members in Scotland, spread across organisations of different sizes, sectors and industries, we are in prime position to influence change. After all, it is our profession that sits at the heart of the fair work agenda in organisations. From wellbeing, to work-life balance, to skills development, our members’ work has a direct impact on employees’ job quality and their experience of fair work. We know that many CIPD members already put in place innovative schemes that make a real difference to thousands of employees so the potential to learn from each other and share good practice is significant.
This is even more important as we look at how the past 17 months can inform our future working lives. Of course, it was the people profession that was at the heart of navigating huge changes to where and how we work, getting to grips with ever-changing regulations and supporting employees through the most difficult of times. The three areas mentioned above – wellbeing, work-life balance and skills development – have all gained on importance throughout the pandemic. If we are to move to a hybrid future of work – for those who can work from home – maintaining wellbeing, a healthy work-life balance and upskilling in the face of fast-paced economic change should stay at the top of employers’ agendas. These are all key elements of fair work.
It is crucial to recognise that fair work does not just benefit employees – it is about much more than that. An increasing amount of research – not least CIPD’s own Working Lives Scotland report – shows that improving job quality improves individual productivity too. And individual productivity improvements translate to business productivity gains, which in turn boosts labour productivity of the whole country. Productivity growth has long been a challenge for the UK as a whole and fair work, with good people management at its heart, is one part of the puzzle that policymakers can seek to put firmly in place.
The CIPD Scotland and Fair Work Convention partnership could therefore not have come at a better time. On one hand, employers are looking to learn lessons from the past, with HR professionals driving long-term organisational change. On the other, policymakers are looking to safeguard a sustainable post-pandemic recovery. Both seek to boost productivity and future-proof skills development to ensure our workforce is ready to meet the demands of a changing economy. All of this is underpinned by employees whose job quality impacts their wellbeing and performance.
Over the coming months, CIPD Scotland and the Fair Work Convention will work together to amplify each other’s work and campaigns across Scotland. We hope that we can bring employers and HR professionals together, share our research, learn from each other and influence where needed.
Driving fair work throughout workplaces has the potential to improve thousands of working lives, boost organisational performance and improve the country’s prosperity. We look forward to playing our part.
Lee Ann Panglea
Head of Scotland and Northern Ireland, CIPD