A good job is not just about pay. Workers also value respect | Torsten Bell


We all know pay matters, but whether we’ve got a good job is about more than that. Too often, this is forgotten by policy makers. When we spend more waking hours working than doing anything else, we should care about the quality of those hours.

The good news from Resolution Foundation analysis is that job satisfaction hasn’t fallen much, despite claims of a spread of “bullshit jobs”. Pride in our work is up and 79% think our job is “helpful to others”.

But under those headlines there is bad news: low earners used to be most satisfied but that premium has disappeared, despite the minimum wage raising their relative pay. Why? Stress is up and control down. Today, skilled manual workers (think drivers or carers) are twice as likely to find work stressful compared with the 90s. Then, 71% had “a great deal” of control over how hard they worked. Now that’s 46%.

Looking beyond pay means understanding that those with richer parents get to do “better” jobs – not just better paid ones. So concludes a new US study quantifying the non-monetary benefits of work, such as respect. Having better-off parents means you can afford to choose a career, like academia, that isn’t always well paid.

There’s more to life than work, or should be, at least. And there’s more to work than pay. Taking a broader view of “good jobs” means recognising low earners deserve not just a higher minimum wage, but more control over the work they do.



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