"Our data suggests a slow slide into mediocrity, away from enriching and rewarding jobs and towards roles where many people are demotivated, lack commitment and are less productive. Work can and should be good for us. It’s vital that the UK Government and employers renew their commitment to good work."

Jake Young, Research Associate, CIPD

The CIPD Good Work Index 2023 warns of a ‘slow slide into mediocrity’. The report, based on insights from more than 5,000 UK workers, provides a comprehensive overview of the state of good work in the UK on seven dimensions of job quality.  

This year's report reveals that a number of key measures of job quality have fallen back in recent years, impacting individuals and the economy. 

The survey found that most people like their work and find it satisfying, however as many as 6-9 million* workers experience poor-quality work in some major areas of their work and that there has been no significant improvement in job quality in the past four years. 

Compared to 2019, workers today are less enthused about work, less likely to perceive their work as useful and more likely to see work as purely transactional – simply for the money.

Other headlines include:

  • Workers are less likely to work harder than needed to help their employer, falling from 57% in 2019 to 51% in 2023, marking a shift in willingness to put in extra effort.
  • Many public sector workers don’t feel their pay reflects the responsibilities of the job (45% compared to 32% in the private sector) and are much more likely to ‘strongly disagree that pay reflects responsibilities’ (17% vs 8% in the private sector).
  • In the continued cost-of-living crisis, better pay and benefits are a key motive behind people moving jobs (34%), followed by better job satisfaction (27%), a better work–life balance (23%) and people wanting to do a different type of work (22%).

"Despite the upheaval of recent years, most UK workers remain broadly positive about their jobs. However, there’s a mixed experience of job quality, especially between private sector and public sector roles. Not all jobs can be transformed, but significant improvements in areas such as training, development, and people management should be possible."

Jake Young, Research Associate, CIPD

The report identifies three key areas that the UK Government and employers must address to support better working lives: 

  1. A renewed policy focus on ‘good work’ and improving job quality
  2. The gap between the quality of working life in the public sector versus the private sector must be narrowed to address current challenges and attract future workers
  3. Work must become more flexible and more attractive if there is to be a sustainable solution to major labour supply challenges.

The report also provides practical recommendations for policymakers and employers.

Policymakers wanting to improve job quality should:  

  • Revamp the labour market enforcement system to improve the protection of workers’ rights and help raise employment standards across the economy.
  • Improve the quality of careers information and guidance to help workers at all stages make better-informed choices on training, qualifications and careers.

Employers should focus on:

  • Improving access to flexible working options and financial wellbeing support.
  • Identifying and managing skills mismatches to engage, satisfy and develop staff.

The CIPD is calling on the UK Government and employers to take action to improve job quality in the UK. By doing so, they can help to create a more productive, fairer, and more sustainable economy.

* Between 20% and 30% of respondents reported negatively on some major aspects of work. This translates into large numbers out of a workforce of 32 million people. Taking our sample of 5,000+ workers as representative of the UK population, our data suggests that between 6 and 9 million people have poor quality work in some important respects.

About the Good Work Index

The Good Work Index 2023 is an annual benchmark of job quality in the UK. It provides a comprehensive overview of the state of good work in the UK based on seven dimensions of job quality, including contractual arrangements and the day-to-day realities of work as experienced by workers themselves. We use these insights to inform our recommendations to employers and policymakers. 

CIPD Good Work Index

The CIPD Good Work Index provides an annual snapshot of job quality in the UK, giving insight to drive improvement to working lives

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Championing better work and working lives

About the CIPD

At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work.