Quality of Work Life

The concept of Quality of Work Life is on everyone’s lips today. HR department and business leaders are more and more interested in it. But what are we really talking about?

QWL timeline:

The emergence of QWL:

QWL foundation can be traced back to the 1930’s, with George Elton Mayo’s human relations movement. He focused on the individual and psychological factors of employee performance in the workplace. The Taylorian organisation of work is being called into question. The rational organisation of work, divided into elementary, simple, repetitive tasks entrusted to specialized workers, no longer appears to be the key to the productivity of companies.

In 1950, Tavistock’s work was in line with this logic and placed the ability of companies to structure the human, social and technical dimensions of work at the heart of collective efficiency. The notion of QWL has been constantly enriched over the years. Its evolution is intimately linked to the evolution of our relationship with work.

QWL in the UK:

The term appears in Great Britain in 1970s as the first report of the General Household Survey suggests, which found 92.7% of men and 95.6% of women “satisfied or fairly satisfied” with their jobs. In parallel, the Department of Employment had commissioned another report on “Quality of Working Life”, which found a “direct correlation between efficiency and workers’ satisfaction”.

The report also encouraged greater coordination between the different actors, which led, in 1973, to the creation of the Tripartite Steering Group on Job Satisfaction, between the Government, the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress, to examine the topic of quality of work life in industry and in commerce.

Meaningful measures were taken in 1999 through the Employment Relations Act, which sets out the legal minimum required of employers with respect to certain employment rights – maternity leave, right of the employee to return, 13 weeks parental leave, treatment of part-time workers in respect of their terms and conditions of employment. It was followed by the launch, in spring 2000, of the UK Government’s Work-Life Balance Campaign, which was comprised of multiple surveys and reports, including the Work Life Balance Report.

Those reports are produced every 5 years to provide a baseline study, recommendations and policies of QWL. The Fourth Work Life Balance Report of 2013, led to the Flexible Working Regulations 2014 which, with the Employment Rights Act of 1996, is a key QWL legislation in the UK. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, CIPD, has been tasked by the government’s Flexible Working Task Force, since 2018, to put together the UK Working Lives Survey. Those reports give a complete state of affairs of quality of work life in the UK and explores ideas, initiatives and projects for businesses to grasp QWL and its opportunities.


The scope of QWL

Quality of life at work is a complex concept with many dimensions. Far from a simplistic vision that would consist in associating it with the simple happiness of the employee in the company, QWL refers to a global, strategic and organizational approach to work. Walton (1975) was the first to come up with (8) “Criteria for Quality of Working Life”, bringing a rational and scientific approach to quality of worklife research and policies. Many scholars completed his works, adding or identifying new themes. Most recently, CIPD classified, in their UK Working Lives (UKWL) surveys, seven dimensions that facilitate the identification, evaluation and deployment of a QWL action plan.

Walton dimensions: Fair compensation – Health and safety of work conditions – Immediate opportunities to use and develop human capacities – Safety of employment and continuous growth perspective – Social integration at work – Constitutionalism at work – Work life balance – Social pertinence of work

CIPD dimensions: Pay and benefits – Contracts – Job design and the nature of work – Work-life balance – Relationships at work – Voice and representation – Health and well-being


QWL issues

In the UK, only 11% of employees are engaged in their work (Gallup Institute, 2018). In other words, only 11% of UK people are enthusiastic about their job and their company.

Quality of Work Life aims to put the individual back at the heart of work and the decision-making process. The implementation of QWL policies within businesses is a real traceable and improvable performance lever. Indeed, offering its employees a working environment where well-being and fulfilment are the standard, allows:

  • To decrease absenteeism
  • To build employee loyalty
  • To increase its productivity
  • To attract the best talent
  • To engage its employees


Teamii supports you in your policy of improving your employees’ QWL. Our teams assist you in your decision-making process in order to optimise the well-being and performance of your employees.

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