Benjamin Artz, David Blanchflower, Alex Bryson, 28 May 2021

The US labour market is producing too few jobs and those it is producing are often low paid and of poor quality. This is exacerbated by the fact that workers do not have the means to fix their problems at work because of a precipitous decline in union membership over the last half century, particularly in the private sector. Using panel data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 and 1997 cohorts and from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this column shows that union density is now on the rise and that union workers are now more satisfied than non-union workers. Unions’ ability to help workers avoid underemployment suggests that what seems to have changed is the value attached to the insurance component of the union good.

Shivani Taneja, Paul Mizen, Nicholas Bloom, 15 March 2021

Attitudes towards working from home have changed substantially since the start of the pandemic. This column discusses the findings from a survey of 5,000 working adults in the UK in January and February 2021, which suggest that about half of the UK labour force are currently working from home. Two days a week at home is the most commonly expected working pattern post-COVID, with implications for many large and medium-sized businesses.

Richard Freeman, David Blanchflower, Alex Bryson, 11 November 2020

Things have been going badly for workers, but for many years their traditional representatives in the workplace – trade unions – have been on the back-foot.  This column revisits the association between unionisation and job satisfaction, and finds that while in the past union workers used to have lower job satisfaction than their non-union counterparts, union membership now raises wellbeing at work. The study suggests that unions do the same as they always did – it is the non-union world that has changed for the worse.  There is evidence of this sparking a growth in unionisation in the UK over the last three years.   

Christian Krekel, George Ward, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, 21 April 2019

A growing number of companies place a high priority on the wellbeing of their workers, assuming that happier workers will lead to improved productivity. This column examines this link based on a meta-analysis of independent studies accumulated by Gallup, covering the wellbeing and productivity of nearly 2 million employees and the performance of over 80,000 business units, originating from 230 independent organisations across 49 industries in 73 countries. The results suggest a strong positive correlation between employee wellbeing, productivity, and firm performance.

Alex Bryson, John Forth, Lucy Stokes, 17 November 2014

It is generally agreed that firms can improve their employees’ wellbeing through improvements in job quality – but is it in their economic interests to do so? This column reports research showing that satisfied employees and higher productivity go together. Analysis of the British Workplace Employment Relations Survey finds that employee job satisfaction is positively associated with workplace financial performance, labour productivity, and the quality of output and service.

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