The Working Lives Scotland report, now in its fourth year, is the CIPD’s dedicated report on job quality in Scotland. 

This year’s report has found that many workers in Scotland are struggling with the cost of living, excessive workloads, and stress.

Covering the periods just before, during the height of, as well as after the pandemic, the report surveyed over 1,000 Scottish workers across the five Fair Work Framework dimensions:  respect, security, fulfilment, opportunity, and effective voice.

The report finds that the worsening impact of the cost-of-living crisis has led to one in five (20%) working Scots losing sleep due to money worries. And nearly a third (32%) say their employer is not doing enough to support their financial wellbeing.

“The cost-of-living crisis continues to cast a shadow over the working lives of people across Scotland. We have seen a considerable worsening of employees’ financial wellbeing year on year, with real impacts on their daily lives. Better pay is important, but there are many other steps employers can take to improve their employees’ lives.”

Marek Zemanik, Senior Public Policy Adviser for Scotland and Northern Ireland, CIPD

Scottish workers also reported challenges around the impact of work on mental health, excessive workloads, and stress, as well as considerable gaps in flexible working or the opportunity to have their voice heard. Poorer job quality outcomes for people in so-called key worker* roles stand out in particular, with nearly two in five (37%) saying their workload is too high. 

  • Overall, job quality has barely been impacted by the pandemic, but the report finds that serious gaps persist, as other key findings show:
  • Over half of all employees (58%) – the highest level recorded since 2020 - report working despite not being well enough to do so. Disabled workers are more likely to report such presenteeism.
  • 37% of key workers say their workload is “too much”, compared with 29% of those not in key worker roles. Key workers are also much more likely to feel they are not getting paid appropriately considering their responsibilities (44% disagree, versus 33% for non-key workers). However, 65% of workers feel they are doing useful work for society, compared with 41% of those not in key worker roles.
  • Remote and hybrid working are now firmly embedded, with 9% of all Scots working from home all the time and another 44% working in a hybrid way. However, a third (33%) of Scottish employees can’t - and another 11% don’t want to - work from home at all.

“Focusing on job quality is key – through improved benefits packages and job design, better skills development and career advancement pathways, effective two-way communication, and broader flexibility. Getting all these aspects right can make work fairer.”

Marek Zemanik, Senior Public Policy Adviser for Scotland and Northern Ireland, CIPD

The CIPD is calling on the Scottish Government and employers in Scotland to focus on three key areas to support better working lives:

  • A renewed focus on financial wellbeing and improving job quality.
  • Narrowing the gap between the quality of working life for key workers versus those in non-key worker roles, to address current challenges and attract future workers.
  • Looking beyond remote and hybrid working to unlock the benefits of flexible working for more Scottish workers.

The report concludes with a number of practical recommendations for people professionals to improve job quality, including:

  • Improving access to flexible working options and financial wellbeing support. 
  • Training managers to be able to signpost the right type of financial wellbeing support and empower employees to be heard.
  • A boost in career progression and skills development pathways.
  • Identifying and managing skills mismatches to engage and develop staff.
  • Focusing on improving management quality that allows open and honest conversations around wellbeing.


*Key workers are defined as those people whose job role was essential and critical to the COVID-19 response and fell under one of the categories listed by the government.

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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.