Growing discontent from workers in the North East having to cope with workload and pay concerns has led to a call for the quality of jobs in the region to be urgently improved.

New research says there has been a negative shift in how employees think about work, and the impact on their health. The research also highlights the growing discontent among public sector workers, who are unhappy with their pay and heavy workload.

In response, the CIPD – the professional body for HR and people development – is urging employers and policy makers to improve the quality of jobs for workers in the North East.

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Daphne Doody-Green, Head of CIPD in Northern England said: “This research demonstrates that workers – and particularly those in the public sector – are becoming increasingly dissatisfied and disengaged with work. Employers need to assess the quality of their jobs and consider implementing changes that will create a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.

“To help, we are working with the Northern metro mayors - in Greater Manchester, Liverpool, North of Tyne and West Yorkshire – to support and develop their Good Work Charters, which provide a framework for employers, and access to resources, to help improve their employment practices.”

She adds: “Work can, and should be, a force for good, and while not all jobs can be transformed; significant improvements in areas such as flexibility, development and people management can play a huge part in improving job quality.”

The CIPD Northern Good Work Index report surveyed over 950 workers - across Yorkshire and Humber, the North East and North West – on seven key areas of good work: pay and benefits, contracts, work-life balance, job design and nature of work, relationships at work, employee voice, and health and wellbeing.

The Northern Echo: Daphne Doody-GreenDaphne Doody-Green (Image: CIPD)

The findings revealed that workers in the North today are less enthused about work, compared to 2019. Just under half (46%) of employees in the region view their job as transactional - simply a way of making money – this year, up from 36% in 2019, and just 27% of workers say they feel full of energy at work.

Workers also remain wary of the effects of work on their health, with only 23% of employees in the North saying work impacts their physical health positively and around one-third (34%) of respondents feel their work affects their mental health positively.

The CIPD’s findings also demonstrate the stark gap between the quality of working life in the public sector versus the private sector. The UK-wide data reveals that public sector workers are less satisfied with pay than private sector workers.

Employees in the North’s public sector are also more likely to say they have an unmanageable workload, and that work has a negative impact on their wellbeing.

The CIPD says there are five ways to support better working lives in the North.

  • A renewed policy focus on ‘good work’ and improving job quality.
  • Narrowing the gap between the quality of working life in the public sector versus the private sector to address current challenges and attract future workers.
  • Work must become more flexible and more attractive if there is to be a sustainable solution to major labour supply challenges.
  • Improve access to flexible working options and financial wellbeing support.  
  • Identify and manage skills mismatches to engage, satisfy and develop staff.