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Workplace survey reveals improved employment relations


Working for an SME is getting better, a government survey reveals.

The 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey (WERS) found significant changes in the workplace since the last survey was conducted in 1998. Employees in small companies were experiencing improved employment relations, more attention being to work-life balance and greater job quality.

Highlights include:

  • Fewer workplaces reporting grievances

  • Union representatives are working more closely with management on changes in the workplace

  • More representatives say that managers value their opinions

  • Managers are more positive about the climate of employment relations, but employees report only a modest improvement

  • The decline in union recognition has halted in larger workplaces

  • Substantial increases in employer provision of flexible working arrangements

  • Greater provision of leave arrangements for parents.

The report shows that employers have become more aware of the importance of a good work-life balance, although it also highlights that employees would still like to see their employers doing more to help them in this area.

Announcing the publication of the survey, minister for employment relations Jim Fitzpatrick said: “These results show that firms are increasingly taking the work-life balance of their employees into consideration, while employees are gaining a greater sense of satisfaction from their jobs.

“The findings will inform and guide debate to improve our understanding of how the British labour market operates and changes over time, and will be useful in identifying pockets of good, and not so good practice.”

Among the results of the survey small firms have reported higher job quality than larger organisations, with employees saying they have more influence over the way they do their work and feeling more secure in their jobs.

The survey was a joint venture between the Department of Trade and Industry, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), the Policy Studies Institute and the Economic and Social Research Council. Information was collected from more than 3,000 managers, nearly 1,000 employee representatives, and over 22,000 employees.

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