Job quality refers to the positive attributes that ensure a role is interesting, offers development, pays well and attracts long term workers. This is a key concept of importance to organisations, industries and developed countries, as they struggle to remain economically viable in a fast changing world and deal with multi-generational workforces.
Some of the issues surrounding the importance of job quality include the changing of the demographic populous, the distribution of ‘good’ and bad’ jobs across the service sector in addition to social and health implications for developed nations.
Some of the characteristics attributed to job quality include:
• financial rewards,
• promotion ability;
• interest; and
• interpersonal relationships.
These characteristics are related to job design, which means the way in which work activities are united to create a job. The general aspects that are included in job design are:
• skill variety (the variety of different skills and talents, workers use in their roles);
• task identity (the degree to which an employee can complete a task start to finish and see the outcome);
• task significance (the impact this job has on other people or the business);
• autonomy (the freedom the worker has to be autonomous);
• feedback (the level of intrinsic feedback received from the actual job itself) and
• personal/work outcomes relating to these aspects.
In today’s service based economy, job quality encompasses not only the specific characteristics of the job, but additionally interpersonal relationships that workers form, through their job and social work group.
So why is it important?
Back in 1975, Hackman and Oldham found job dimensions were definitely interconnected to work fulfilment and motivation. Grzywacz & Doley developed five distinct employment types in 2003:
• economically good,
• psychologically good,
• barely adequate, and
Less than optimal jobs had strong links to mental and health issues. Further research followed into the links between health and job quality (Broom et al 2006). In this study, low value jobs, typified by job insecurity, and job stressors were found to have positive links to heightened health issues. These links were found to be the same as those found in the unemployed.
One of the reasons why developed nations have increasing interest in job quality is due to the demographic transition to an aging workforce. The new and uncertain pressure of an ageing population, not only impacts the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, but will continue to drain governmental services for the foreseeable future. A heightened percentage of aged persons in society, reduces the amount of eligible tax payers, in comparison to the dependent elderly, with their increased health care needs and infrastructure requirements. Therefore, developed nations are looking for strategies to offset their aging populations such as adopting policies that maintain older workers and their tacit knowledge in the workforce. Older workers may require differing aspects of job quality to encourage their continual presence in the workforce. Keeping this demographic, included in the primary tax belt, is of major significance to our government and to all forward looking business owners. Looking to keep your good staff – look at the quality of your jobs!
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