A variety of questions are examined in the study, that include:
- Where are the good jobs in the Irish labour market? In answering this question we focus on the principle attributes of people’s work and, in particular, look at the resources available to them and the demands made upon them. We include traditional measures such as pay, job security and working hours, and others that include the capacity of workers to exercise influence over the conduct of their work, the opportunities available to them to use their skills and pursue personal work-related goals, to combine work and family life, as well as the means available to them to voice concerns about their work. We then assess which of these factors, or combination of factors, is the most important determinant of workers’ job quality and which enhances their well-being. From this analysis, we will be able to determine where are the good jobs in the Irish labour market.
- Has workers’ productivity increased or decreased? We will also provide a workers’ perspective on productivity, and enquire whether they’ve undertaken more or less work during the pandemic and the reasons for this. Has it been the case that they are ‘always on’ and connected to their work? Has the pandemic been associated with an increase in employees performing work outside of contracted hours? We also look at levels of employee participation in decisions that affects their work. This is important as we know that participation not only affects workers’ motivation but also their innovative capacity and productivity.
- Health and safety in the workplace during Covid. We examine whether the measures taken by employers were perceived by workers to have been sufficient to make them feel safe at work. We ask if staff had concerns or worries, how were they raised with management and how were they responded to.
- What is the quality of management-employee relations? Here we examine the quality of employee relations in the workplace by looking at management-employee interactions, levels of trust, levels of employee support, employee voice, as well as levels of training and their adequacy. We also explore workers’ views of union representation and the levels of influence union representatives exercise in the workplace.
- Workers’ post-Covid work location preferences. What preferences do workers have in respect of where they might work post Covid (remotely, at home, in the workplace or a hybrid approach) and the reasons for these preferences.
Cross-cutting these research questions are a series of other thematic questions that assess differences in respondents’ experiences and views across different socio-economic groups that include different occupational categories, age cohorts, genders, ethnicity, adults with or without children, contractual status, etc.. These questions include:
- Which groups of workers were hardest hit by Covid-19 work arrangements?
- Who benefitted from homeworking?
- How do preferences for work location vary across the different categories of workers?
- How secure are workers in their jobs? Are young workers more exposed to insecure and precarious forms of employment? Are new forms of ‘precarity’ emerging across different cohorts of non-permanent workers, including those who identify work opportunities via digital platforms, so-called ‘gig workers’.
- Which workers demonstrate more attachment to unions and see benefits in union representation?
- In addition we examine the job quality and experiences of those who work from home and those employed in essential front-line services and who had to ‘go into’ work.
THIS RESEARCH IS IMPORTANT
Covid-19 has turned our economy and our working and private lives up-side down. To date its effects on people’s job quality and well-being have not been examined in Ireland. The Working in Ireland Survey 2021 will be the first comprehensive study to examine these important questions. It is a benchmark study that will not only permit us to assess the effects of the pandemic on working people in Ireland, but it will also provide a scientifically robust point of reference for future studies.
This is important as it will allow us to provide points of comparison over time so that we might better monitor movements in job quality and identify its drivers.
Such data are of profound importance if we are to be in a position to make any credible statements about the ‘future of work’ in Ireland.