Improving work and workplaces is an essential part of growing the economy post-election

13 June 2024

A new paper from Prospect and the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, says that the nature of work and of the workplace has been missing for far too long from discussions about growing the economy.

The paper explores the importance of good work and good workplaces to prosperity, and how collaboration is essential to making good work the norm.

It provides a blueprint which could be implemented immediately by whoever wins the UK General Election on 4 July, and would help underpin and support efforts to transform the economy.

The paper identifies the central challenges as improving labour market participation, innovation adoption and productivity across the economy. And suggests the need for a new public policy emphasis on improving the quality of workplaces and jobs and strengthening the relationships at all levels across our workforces and organisations.

Key recommendations include:

  • Establishing a Workplace Commission to bring together labour market institutions, including employer bodies and trade unions, to support policy making across government and consensus on key workplace issues such as new regulation
  • Developing a more progressive labour market enforcement system to support and improve employer compliance and help drive up overall employment standards
  • Strengthening sector-based social partnership and collective employer representation to improve how skills are developed and used in workplaces at an industry sector level
  • Improving business support services within UK’s nations and regions to boost the people management and development capability of SMEs at a local level

The paper estimates the cost of these proposals to be in the region of £350m a year. It suggests that this would not need to be met through additional Government spending but could be funded through relatively minor changes to existing spending programmes on R&D tax relief which amount to nearly £9bn a year.

Mike Clancy, General Secretary of Prospect, said:

“The General Election and subsequent new government, whoever wins, provide an opportunity for us to reset the terms of discussion around economic prosperity. All parties say they want to grow the economy, what we have here is a costed blueprint which could be implemented almost immediately.

“For too long the fight for good work and working conditions has been seen as separate, and indeed counter to, the drive for economic growth.

“We have shown that when employers and workers come together and collaborate on the terms of their endeavour, it benefits everyone.”

Peter Cheese, CIPD chief executive, said:

“The nature of the work and the support people get in their jobs is central to driving growth and productivity. But more needs to be done to focus on policy that encourages all employers to invest in their people, to improve job quality, sustain positive working cultures and improve people management. These are critical to engaging people and improving labour market participation, as well as enhancing the wellbeing of the wider workforce.

“There is now the need and the opportunity to bring together the currently fragmented policies, regulation, and business support initiatives to help organisations thrive through their people. Competitive pressures, the growing disruption of technology, and the need for sustained economic growth all point to the importance of seeing people as central to labour market and business policy and a wider industrial strategy.

“This paper makes the case for a strong emphasis on improving workplace and people management practices as part of any new strategy to boost growth. It also sets out key recommendations and policies at a national, sectoral and regional level for achieving this.”