The Role of Good Management
Nearly 2.6 million workers are economically inactive due to long-term illness and the cost-of-living crisis has made workers poorer. At the same time, businesses are struggling with staff shortages, retention issues and low productivity.
Against this backdrop, nearly one in five workers - 6.2 million people - are in severely insecure jobs, often characterised by low pay, unpredictable hours, poor protections, and limited career progression.
Job insecurity is not only harmful for individual workers but also for employers and the health of the UK workforce. But to-date the impact of good management on the quality of work for those in insecure jobs has been overlooked. Managers want to help but feel they lack the resources, power and support to help the insecure workers they manage.
Experience of work makes a massive difference to quality of working lifeOne in three (34%) workers reported having at least one of their shifts cancelled with less than two days’ notice in the past month. Half of workers surveyed (51%) say their mental wellbeing is affected by sudden changes to their work, schedule, or weekly hours.
Management mattersManagers are central to delivering a positive working experience. Insecure workers who feel they are treated well at work are 7.5 times more likely to be satisfied with their job.
Managers want to helpThree quarters of managers surveyed said they would be willing to provide more flexible working arrangements to a direct report who requested them due to caring responsibilities (74%), personal wellbeing (73%), or for disability or health reasons (77%).
Managers often face the same challenges as their colleaguesHalf of the managers we spoke to expressed a desire for more predictable hours and almost one in ten managers expected to lose their job in the next 12 months. Three in five (57%) of the insecure workers we surveyed want more predictable hours but nearly half of managers (46%) said that their team’s working hours are set by other people.
Managers themselves need supportAs well as dealing with their own job insecurity, several of the managers stated they face mental pressures in attempting to support members of their team who were experiencing significant difficulties due to the precarious nature of their contracts.
Sometimes we don’t know how long we have (an insecure worker) for, you can’t plan ahead very much.
Zadie, 35-year-old care service manager, based in Wales
One of the things you can do as a manager is personalising, and listening to what their needs are.
Ravi, 31-year-old care services manager, based in the South East
Having an absent manager, everything just stalls… since I've been working with the [organisation]… there's no development, there's no progression. Staff leave. They work there 18 months, two years, realise there's no support. There's no progression there's no opportunities, and they leave.
Jennifer, 45-year-old educator, from the North West
My manager helped me to decide a path for my career and that's why I'm doing engineering college.
Kelvin, 28-year-old factory technician
There are also times where we're expected to sort of come in for two hours with very little pay. By the time you pay petrol to get there, that's how much you earnt really, and then you come home.
David, 27-year-old social worker from the South West
To tackle job insecurity and its negative impact on the labour market, the Government should:
- Strengthen labour rights and contractual security for all workers.
- Identify international best practice examples of mitigating the impacts of insecure work on individuals, employers and sectors.
- Increase transparency and accountability of employers to drive improvements.
- Develop management capability in providing secure and predictable working arrangements.
- Build on existing programmes of support for managers such as apprenticeships and Help to Grow.
- Build management capability into local/ regional skills programmes.
- Use investment strategies to incentivise good labour standards.