A high-quality job is a large part of the foundation for financial stability and economic mobility. Labor markets, however, are changing. Many of the largest-growing occupations, such as home health care, retail sales, food service and construction labor, require only a high school education or less. In addition to lower wages, these jobs often have irregular hours, limited benefits and limited advancement opportunities.
New polices and strategies to make these jobs better for both workers and their employers were recently explored in a three-part webinar series, Investing in Job Quality. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City hosted the series in partnership with the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program and the Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative at the MIT Sloan School of Management. The recorded webinars and related resources are available at Investing in Job Quality.
The webinars were organized from the perspective of the employer, the worker and the research community to provide a holistic view of the issue and options. Here are brief descriptions of each webinar:
- The Employer: External LinkHow Employers Create Good Jobs to Maintain Their Competitive Advantage
Two manufacturing companies discuss how they are responding to the changing labor market through strategies to design higher-quality jobs, improve working conditions and strengthen operations. Technology’s role in enhancing job quality and expanding employment is discussed along with a menu of practices used by employers across industry sectors proven to increase their competitive advantage and help them become an “employer of choice.”
- The Worker: External LinkEngaging Workers in Creating Good Jobs
Workers are making their voices heard on a range of policy and practice issues using new technologies and organizing tools. This webinar explores how they are being used to improve scheduling practices, expanding leave policies and increasing worker’s knowledge of their rights.
- The Research Community: External LinkIn Search of the Employment "High Road": A Research Perspective on Developing Good Jobs
This webinar looks at two industries that each employ large numbers of low-paid workers in the United States, long-term care and retail, to provide insight into the factors that can affect their job quality.
Job Quality Strategies
The perspectives and experiences presented in the webinars provide a number of useful entry points for improving the quality of jobs for lower-wage workers.
Wages are an important component of a quality job. Employers also have improved business outcomes by providing stable work schedules, providing relevant benefits and redesigning jobs and processes to increase worker engagement and status. For example, appropriately trained and managed supervisors can have a direct impact on the productivity and job satisfaction of front-line workers. Employers also have improved business outcomes by providing stable work schedules, providing relevant benefits and redesigning jobs and processes to increase worker engagement and status.
Each of these strategies requires an investment of time and resources. However, they are investments that can provide a positive return. This shift in perspective from cost to investment is essential to drive improvements in business outcomes. In recognition of this, the Federal Reserve System has launched a multiyear initiative, External LinkInvesting in America’s Workforce, to improve workforce development outcomes for both workers and businesses. The goal is to shift the perception of workforce development from being a cost to being an investment that yields positive returns for businesses, workers and their communities.