3 things that make a job great

Technology Eye | March. 18, 2016

We spend a large chunk of our week at work, and our jobs play a major role in our happiness and well-being. But what is it that makes one job better than another?

A new report from the OECD attempts to understand just this. The results are important both for our own well-being and for policy-makers and employers alike.

The report measures job quality across three indicators – earnings, labour market security and working environment – to give a picture of working life in OECD member nations.

The role of earnings

This indicator looks at the impact of earnings on well-being. Both the level of earnings and their distribution across the workforce are measured.

Source: OECD

The Netherlands tops the ranking thanks to its combination of low earnings inequality and high average earnings. Only Luxembourg, in second place, sees higher average earnings, but higher earnings inequality results in a lower overall score.

The role of job security

The labour market security indicator assesses the economic security of jobs. It considers the risk of unemployment, and also the degree of public protection for the unemployed.

Source: OECD

Iceland scores best for labour market security, particularly for the level of unemployment insurance. At the other end of the scale, Greece and Spain both score considerably worse than any other place, due to the high unemployment risk in both countries.

The role of the working environment

This indicator looks at the nature of the work, relationships at work, and the working-time arrangements. It is measured by assessing job strain, which combines the demands of the job, and the resources available to accomplish the tasks.

Source: OECD

Finland emerges top of the EU nations, while New Zealand is the best-performing OECD nation overall. Once again, Greece and Spain score poorly, with highly demanding and low-resourced jobs resulting in a low-quality working environment.

What does this all mean?

As the charts show, job quality varies considerably in the OECD across the three indicators. However, broader patterns do emerge.

Some countries such as Australia, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Switzerland perform strongly across all three indicators, suggesting an overall high level of job quality.

Conversely, some countries return an average performance across the indicators. Nations such as Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States sit in the middle, rarely appearing near the top, but also steering clear of the bottom.

Finally, other nations have performed poorly across all three measures. Hungary, Italy and Portugal perform relatively poorly in at least two of the indicators, without doing well in any of the categories.

What about the workers?

The results have important implications, showing where improvements are needed. The results also highlight the demographic differences that exist.

Younger and low-skilled workers have the worst results for job quality, while high-skilled workers do best.

In terms of gender, differences also exist. The gender wage gap persists, as highlighted by the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report . However, with respect to labour market security, differences are small, and women are less likely to experience job strain.

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution changes the global workplace, understanding the nature of our jobs, and where change is needed, will become more important than ever.

Have you read?

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SOURCE: World Economic Forum

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