Reversing the £1billion cost of workplace conflict

Published on 18 June 2024
Added by Keelin Kelly

A research report commissioned by the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) reveals that ‘good jobs’ could help reverse the cost of workplace conflict within Northern Ireland, which burdens employers and the local economy with a staggering £1billion in costs per year.


Pictured are Economy Minister, Conor Murphy, with Labour Relations Agency Chief Executive, Don Leeson.


Over 100 delegates attended the ‘Building a Business Case for Good Jobs’ research report launch at the LRA (18 June 2024) where its authors, Professor Chris Warhurst and Dr Emily Erickson from Warwick Institute for Employment Research, demonstrated the links between good jobs and increased innovation, productivity, and employee health and wellbeing.

The key finding was that positive employee engagement and wellbeing is mutually beneficial for both workers and business performance.

Opening the event, the Minister for the Economy, Conor Murphy reiterated one of his four key priorities, as part of his Economic Vision, is to create ‘Good Jobs.’  He said: “Providing workers and their families with a decent, secure income is an important aim in its own right. What this research demonstrates is that Good Jobs also contributes to other economic and social objectives, such as improving productivity, and promoting physical and mental health.”

The Minister went on to announce that his Department is adopting the Carnegie Framework as its definition of Good Jobs.  He said: “This Framework, which is also used in the research, identifies seven dimensions of job quality: Terms of employment; Pay and benefits; Health, safety and psychosocial wellbeing; Job design and the nature of work; Social support and cohesion; Voice and representation; and Work life balance. 

“This is an extremely comprehensive definition, and my Department will work to progress all seven dimensions.”

Chief Executive of the Labour Relations Agency, Don Leeson said: “The report provides tangible proof that good jobs improve organisational performance. Considering this alongside the research the LRA published last year showing that toxic workplaces cost employers and our economy up to £1billion per year, the provision of good jobs makes sound economic sense.

“When businesses invest in job quality through fair wages, supportive work environments, and opportunities for development, they see significant improvements in employee morale, productivity, and retention. This, in turn, enhances overall business performance and contributes to economic stability and growth. This is what we need in Northern Ireland, given our persistent low level of productivity.

“The findings suggest that the dimensions of good jobs are a useful foundation for a Good Employment Charter for Northern Ireland, which the LRA is currently developing to help drive the creation of good jobs,” Don added.

Co-author of the research, Professor Chris Warhurst said: “Our findings provide good news for policy makers who are interested in improving innovation, productivity and employee health and wellbeing. We have found evidence that good social support from colleagues and line managers can create workplaces that are more innovative.

“A strong positive relationship exists between pay and productivity, and good work-life balance also boosts productivity. However, long working hours and job insecurity negatively impact mental and physical health. Control over tasks and task variety positively affects mental health, supporting the case for creating more good jobs.”

Leading Northern Ireland fintech company, FinTrU, which has been celebrated for its good employment practices, participated in the research.

Chief Administration Officer, Sinead Carville, said: “The company’s employee-focused culture is exemplified by a variety of wellbeing programmes, clear career progression pathways, training and learning opportunities, and inclusivity – all of which leads to a high-performance workplace.”

Welcoming the Economy Minister’s support, Don Leeson concluded: “We hope the report helps all businesses to understand the business benefits of good jobs generally, and in Northern Ireland specifically. Longer term this offers enormous potential, ultimately improving our economic performance.”