How employers can benefit from data on the design and nature of a job

Jul 19, 2021 | Home Featured, Sector & policy | 0 comments

Last month, HESA published a paper outlining the potential development of a new statistical measure relating to the design and nature of work undertaken by graduates. Tej Nathwani discusses the purposes behind this study and the value statistics based on this measure could provide to employers in forthcoming years.

Last month, HESA published a paper outlining the potential development of a new statistical measure relating to the design and nature of work undertaken by graduates. Tej Nathwani discusses the purposes behind this study and the value statistics based on this measure could provide to employers in forthcoming years.

 

Decent work for all

Back in 2015, the United Nations released a new set of Sustainable Development Goals that also applied to advanced economies. Goal 8 in this programme was to ensure there was decent work for all. Today, all four nations of the UK have policy objectives around monitoring and improving the quality of employment available within the economy. Appropriate statistics are, however, required on a regular basis in order to evaluate the extent to which this is being met. The Measuring Job Quality Working Group – assembled to help with creating suitable quantitative measures – recognised that employment quality is a multi-faceted concept covering various dimensions. 

One of these dimensions has been identified to be the design and nature of work, which encompasses such issues as skills use, progression opportunities and the sense of purpose that the job provides. Indeed, the Office for National Statistics has started to gather data relating to this feature through appropriate questions in the Labour Force Survey and has been encouraged to continue enhancing its collection on job quality, particularly given the long-term impact that coronavirus is likely to have on work.

 

The benefits to employers

Providing high-quality and fair work can bring various benefits to the employer, with recent research illustrating the positive relationship between productivity and the design/nature of work. Furthermore, workers who experience satisfaction through their employment are less likely to leave or be absent from work. The Equality Act 2010 stipulates employers to ensure that they are providing equal opportunity for all in the workplace, with this applying to chances for training and promotion, alongside aspects such as pay. Consequently, data on job quality may also prove helpful to employers in the statistical monitoring of equal opportunities.  

 

Graduate Outcomes: Deriving a measure of the design and nature of work

The formation of the Graduate Outcomes survey was based on research that highlighted the need to capture the wider impacts of higher education on both graduates and society. This led to the introduction of the ‘Graduate Voice’ questions, which ask graduates to indicate the extent to which they agree or disagree with the following, based on a five point Likert scale (strongly disagree, disagree, neither agree nor disagree, agree, strongly agree):

  • My current work is meaningful
  • My current work fits with my future plans
  • I am utilising what I learnt during my studies in my current work

These relate closely to current aims of higher education policy, which aspires for graduates to achieve fulfilment in their careers, while also being equipped with the skills that are needed within the labour market.

The Measuring Job Quality Working Group concluded that a composite measure should ideally be derived for each dimension of quality. As these above three statements all relate to the design and nature of work element, we carried out a statistical analysis to determine whether a reliable single measure could be generated and we concluded that this is achievable. Our exploration identified that we could assign each of these three statements a numerical value ranging from 1 to 5 (where 1 is strongly disagree and 5 represents strongly agree) and then take an average. Hence, each of these three responses is given equal weight in the final measure.

 

Next Steps

Over the next few months, we will be engaging with users of our data on the types of statistics they would like HESA to produce in relation to this measure, along with the types of data visualisations they believe would most effectively display the key messages. Earlier in this blog, we have noted the possible value that analysis by protected characteristics may offer employers. Additionally, we appreciate there is likely to be interest in findings by sector. The benefits of this could include some industries being able to learn from other parts of the economy on ways they can enhance the quality of jobs that they offer to graduates. Meanwhile, some organisations may wish to run their own internal survey and see how responses within their company compare against findings for their sector as a whole.

At HESA, we are always happy to receive comments, feedback and questions on our outputs, including your own ideas about what other statistics based on this measure might be useful, such as by occupational group or some other characteristic. You can get in touch by emailing us at research@hesa.ac.uk

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