Re-evaluation of what makes a job ‘good’

ACCORDING to a study published last week in Canada, a good job is no longer defined by pay or benefits, but by job satisfaction.

Canadian Policy Research Networks’ What’s a Good Job? The Importance of Employment Relationships found that the traditional structural approach to employment – focusing on such things as whether a person works full or part time, is self employed or an employee, is in a temporary or permanent position – is not where it’s at in our emerging learning or knowledge economy.

Good jobs traditionally have been permanent full-time jobs with structured wage rates and substantial benefits. Not-so-good jobs have been those non-standard temporary part-time positions, or self employment with unreliable income and low benefits.

CPRN’s Graham Lowe and Grant Schellenberg claim that, by focusing on employment relationships and employees’ actual experience, it is possible to more accurately assess what constitutes a good job in the new economy.

And if you want employees who will keep your organisation up to speed in the years ahead, pay close attention.

Employment relationships, while sounding like fun and games behind the water cooler, were actually found by Lowe and Schellenberg to include four main criteria:

p trust: the expectation of fair treatment by the employer or client;

p commitment: the identification with the organisation’s goals and values;

p influence: the participation in the decision making affecting one’s work; and

p communication: a clear role definition, the information required to fulfil it, and feedback on doing it.

Applying the Canadian exper-ience to WA, we see the same trend toward our high achieving employees, our champions of workplace innovation and creativity. They are flourishing in a healthy and supportive workplace which has high job satisfaction, opportunities for ongoing skill development, low turnover, low absenteeism, high morale and high productivity.

Certainly, high achievement is expected to be rewarded with high pay, but that is a given in our knowledge economy.

What is not yet a given today is the necessity for the workplace environment to be based on trust, commitment, influence, and communication. Not just as words on the wall chart headed Our Mission, but to actually reflect the operational everyday values in the organisation.

WA’s IT industry is the most obvious arena where this trend is visible. Negotiations with desirable would-be employees skip quickly over the salary figure (high) and get down to the important stuff of idiosyncratic working hours, unique attire, delivered cuisine (pizzas and diet cola), and perhaps even having man’s best friend, complete with frisbee, alongside the workstation day or night.

While it is easy to see these people as the clichéd IT geeks, they just happen to be at the cutting edge of the knowledge economy. Where they go, so we are likely to follow. Perhaps not with the same culinary or couturier style, but with our own definitions of employment relationships based on trust, commitment, influence and communication.

So, how good a job do you have?

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