Five minutes to help shape Lancashire's post-pandemic recovery

By Dr Adrian Wright, deputy head of the School of Management and director of the Institute for Research into Organisations, Work and Employment (IROWE).

Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire have launched the Work in Lancashire Survey and are encouraging businesses, managers and employees to help shape the county’s post-pandemic recovery by sharing their insight.

The Institute for Research in Organisations, Work and Employment (iROWE) at the University of Central Lancashire has created the study to help learn more about what makes for a great place to work.

By taking part in the survey, which takes just five minutes to complete, you can help the team gather the data which will help shape future best practices for enhancing work and productivity across the region.  

The workplace is changing

The pandemic has brought about huge changes in the way that we work. 

Swapping our offices for home, changing jobs and often sectors we work in, experiencing furlough or changes in work patterns have all been commonplace in the experiences of workers in Lancashire. 

Homeworking has impacted hugely on social relations at work, relationships have become more fleeting and lines have been blurred between work and home.

Now is the time to reset and rebuild better and make work even more productive

Lockdowns have laid bare many inequalities in work, as frontline workers undertook essential jobs to keep the country going, women largely shouldered caring responsibilities in addition to paid work, whilst marginalised parts of the workforce have found their voices difficult to be heard. 

There is no doubt challenges remain ahead but, if we echo the sentiment of Albert Einstein, “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity” we can reset, and build even better, more productive work within the region. 

Improving quality of life

According to ACAS (2019), two big questions govern policy thinking in the world of work. 

Firstly, how can we make work more productive? Secondly, how can we improve the quality of our working lives? Understanding the answer to these two questions is hugely important. 

The link between productivity and job quality has been explored by the RSA which suggests whilst work, pay and productivity are positively correlated,  we need to look beyond pay to understand what makes work productive and examine themes such as job security, meaning, opportunity, training and progression, engagement, voice and the basic tenants of good people management. 

Essentially, to improve the quality of working lives and address the UK’s long tail of poorly performing companies, we need to look at what’s inside the job and make that better. 

After all, according to the CIPD, a quarter of UK workers say work is bad for their physical and mental health (23 per cent and 25 per cent respectively), and as health and wellbeing have rightly taken centre stage during the pandemic we need to ensure our commitment to healthy and productive workplaces. 

Addressing inequality

Lancashire provides a perfect basis to understand the benefits of focusing on better quality work and productivity. 

According to Nomis labour market data, perhaps due to the composition of industries in the region, Lancashire falls behind the North West and Great Britain in terms of pay for both male and female workers. 

Furthermore, despite the good work of our local authorities, schools, colleges and universities, Lancashire also falls slightly behind the rest of Great Britain in inequalities in the level of qualifications.

However, some of Lancashire’s cities are recognised as the best cities to live and work in the UK. 

There are great examples of organisations, universities, colleges and local authorities working together to provide access to good jobs and upskill and retrain Lancashire’s workforce.

Take part online

Researchers Dr Adrian Wright, Professor George Ellison and Mary Lawler have developed a survey which aims to understand more about the key facets of work and examine what makes work ‘good’ and productive in Lancashire. 

As part of the Social Impact Evaluation of the Business Health Matters Programme, which aims to build a healthier workforce across Lancashire, the survey brings together academic, policy and organisational insights. 

It aims to measure the key aspects of work and productivity such as flexibility, secure work, pay, health and wellbeing, people management, equality and diversity to understand the impact of work on our lives. 

It provides a vehicle to pinpoint good practices and improve job quality where we can. 

The Work in Lancashire Survey aims to capture the views of all who work in the region, it takes just five minutes to complete and you can access it by visiting bit.ly/uclanworksurvey