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Good and bad jobs

Discuss about the Concept Of Job Quality In Australia.

The concept of job quality has been elusive for many years. Various definitions have been given, but all tend to believe that job quality is the attainment and implementation of full civic principles such as freedom, dignity, justice, equality, fairness, democracy, fulfillment, and dignity at the workplace. Differentiating between a good job from a bad one is challenging. It requires contributions from a multidisciplinary research effort such as economics, management, psychology, political science, industrial relation, sociology, and human management resource (Warhurst et al., 2012). Several factors affect the outcome of job quality such as HMR practices, demographic factors, occupational factors, organizational characteristics, and degree of the trade union organization. This paper, therefore, discusses the job quality concept with special focus in Australia.

The concept of job quality has received much attention in the field of human resource management. It, therefore, causes some issues concerning job quality to be brought in the spotlight. Such issues include; the manner in which we conceptualize about various jobs in the marketplace, the benefits associated with those jobs, differences between good and bad jobs, and measurement of job quality. Job quality differs from one region to another and from country to country (Li and Rama, 2015). Also, they change over time and hence the need for understanding the dimensions and components that differentiate bad jobs and good jobs. It is also important for a country to put measures that ensure the creation of good jobs as well as making the bad jobs better than before.

It is always difficult to differentiate between the qualities of a bad and good job since there is no universal model accepted to do so (Bernhardt and Osterman, 2017). As such, there is always challenges encountered in explaining the job quality differences due to lack of unanimity of a particular model or theory. However, due to the much ongoing research in this field, the various dimensions of job quality are being understood better, although more research should still be carried out especially in determining how jobs affect various aspects of life such as family, health, and social integration.

Job quality has a significant influence on an individual, firms, and the overall nation at large. It is important to understand that job quality concept is a multidimensional phenomenon that requires a multi-disciplinary endeavor and research effort to be able to understand it. Contributions from various fields such as political science, industrial relations, sociology, human resource management, economics, and the law could play a huge role in bringing more insight on the issue of job quality. The three main components or dimensions of job quality are;

Components of a job quality

Earnings Quality-This considers how the earnings that the workers receive from their jobs can contribute to well-being and quality of their life. Usually, people who work for good paying jobs have a better standard of living as compared to those who work for the bad jobs (Pay, 2010). Typically, the individual level of earnings acts as a basic benchmark on which its contribution to the material living standards is measured (Cazes, Hijzen, and Saint-Martin, 2015). However, it is also crucial to determine how earnings are distributed throughout the workplace and the manner in which they affect the corporate well-being of the people. The OECD (Organization for Economic Co?operation and Development), therefore, uses a certain index to measure the earnings quality by putting into account the level of earning of an individual as well as the manner in which they are distributed across the workforce.

Labor market security- The job quality can be affected by several factors that will influence the outcome of the quality of the jobs. Labor market security, therefore, deals with the economic security aspects especially that can cause job loss hence affecting the well-being of the workers (Siebern-Thomas, 2005). Job loss leads to high rate of unemployment. The OECD, therefore, measures the risk of unemployment specifically focusing on the duration that one can stay without securing another job. It is determined using the public unemployment insurance degree encompassing their benefits and also generosity (Schmid, 2015).

Quality of the working environment- While labor market security looks at the economic aspect of the job quality, this component is concerned with the non-economic aspects. They include; workplace relationships, working-time arrangements, and the content and nature of the work performed (Cazes, Hijzen, and Saint-Martin, 2015). Some jobs are high demanding jobs causing time pressure as well as the physical health risk to the workers. Additionally, the job resources required could be insufficient for the full accomplishment of the given job duties. As such, this component of job quality is determined using job strain incidence which combines that limited resources factor and the high job demands.

The notion of a good job particularly can be described as a normative construct which is highly gendered, contingent, gendered, fluid, and evolving. Components of a good job involve various aspect that improves the quality of the job offered.

High employment participation- It ensures economic growth of a country through enhanced productivity, invention, and innovation. Job satisfaction- A good job usually is satisfying to the employees and offers good returns for their input (Sengupta, Edwards, and Tsai, 2009). In most of the economies, there are more men than women in the class of the good jobs. The job quality has been gendered in such a way that the male-breadwinner model of employment is specifically directed to the good jobs.

Components of a good job

Good quality jobs offer an environment through which the workers can develop as well as deploy their skills hence enhance their growth. They also offer opportunities for individuals to take part in task discretion and control. It also allows individuals to participate in the decision-making process.

Lack of providence of sustainable economies- The bad jobs cannot offer improved well-being of the individual and also does not offer a competitive advantage to its country (Sengupta, Edwards, and Tsai, 2009). Therefore, it is crucial for a country to put critical measures in place that are aimed at creating better jobs and improving the bad jobs to a better state.

Low-wage levels which generate in-work poverty and extends to the community and nationwide. Bad jobs as well have low flexibility and non-standard working hours, low resources, and insecure. In Australia, poor job quality costs directly the individuals involved, their families, and indirectly the community and wider social fabric. As such it requires policy interventions from both a national and international level (Materman-Smith and Pocock, 2008).

In most of the advanced economies, job quality is an issue that has received significant attention from both the policy-makers and the researchers. The Australian government advocates for better quality jobs as compared to only more jobs since good quality jobs improve the economy as well as the social well-being of the workers, families, firms, communities, and the nation at large. Countries that have a higher number of better job quality have numerous advantages as compared to their counterparts. They have high rate of employment, productivity, and innovation (Muffels, 2014). However, Australia lags behind regarding policies that are related to job quality improvement and research based on the same. For Australia to be able to become competitive globally, it has to invest more in the creation of quality jobs that will make it be at the forefront regarding development globally. As such, the political will of the Australian government should be directed in improving the job quality through a proper understanding of the factors that influence their outcome.

Dynamism characterizes the labor markets operations. Job loss and increased rate of unemployment influences negatively the job quality of a country. In Australian, more than 20% of jobs are either lost or created in an annual average (McKeown, 2017). One-third of the workers also are either separated from their employers through job loss or hired in a different organization. Therefore, the labor reallocation across industries has a significant impact on the productivity of both the declining and growing firms. The problem of labor market dynamism is an issue that the Australian government has to deal with to ensure improvement in the quality of jobs that are offered within their country. The high rate of job turnover leads to substantial non-economic and economic costs. About 2.3% of Australian employees annually (OECD, 2016), find themselves without jobs due to economic reasons like firm closure and corporate downsizing. Compared to other international nations, however, Australia has been at the forefront in providing jobs faster to those who have lost their jobs. For instance, within one year, 70% become re-employed while 80% are re-employed within two years (OECD, 2016). In most instances, however, the new jobs acquired are of poorer quality as compared to those that they had beforehand. Majority loses on the job quality as they switch from more permanent jobs to a casual, temporary contract, others have to take part-time jobs as compared to the full-time jobs.

Components of a bad job

The flexibility of Australian’s labor markets gives the employees a free will of hiring or firing their workers without any legal disputes. Due to this, there is a high level of economic dynamism in Australia but, still, it gives the Australian people a chance to get a new job easily especially due to the ever-changing economic conditions in the region (Vidal, 2011). It is crucial for the government to implement specific measures and policies like the short-time working schemes that would protect the employees from unnecessary layoffs due to cyclical downturns. To improve the quality of jobs in Australia, some changes are recommended by the OECD to the Australian’s policy makers; Due to the high economic dynamism experienced in the area, policies that strengthen the employer’s responsibilities regarding how they handle their workers should be implemented. For instance, before firing them, they ought to be given enough notice period and also enforce a mandatory notification to the Centrelink for the mass dismissals (OECD, 2016). Also, the training component programs need to be expanded to cover all the individual aspects of the displaced workers.

Human resource management is a critical field in the determination of job quality. The HRM practices as well influence the outcome of job quality. HRM practices aim at developing a strong firm’s human resource. When an organization has a strong and reliable human resource, there is a high chance of success, growth, and development and, therefore, high job quality. HRM practices normally affect the employee retention, organizational citizenship behaviors, job satisfaction, employee engagement, employee motivation, and HR flexibility (Tangthong, 2014). Such HRM practices if employed in the right way affects positively the job quality leading to the creation of better jobs. For instance, the motivation of employees through giving of incentives, gifts, and other rewards, gives them confidence and morale of taking initiatives quickly and encourages them to be more creative and innovative (Albrecht et al., 2015). However, care should be taken not to overload the employees as greater workload creates more stress and anxiety. If their efforts are not appreciated, then there is a likelihood of producing poor results and the quality of work affected.

Other factors influence the development of good jobs as well as their quality. They include; the demographic and occupational factors, organizational characteristics and degree of the trade union organization (Gallie, 2013). Demographic factors, especially on the issue of men and women affect the outcome of a good quality job. Many employees prefer men over women, and this brings imbalance in the job market. It is essential to understand that the skills that an individual possess have a significant role in the determination of the job quality. When employees prefer people of a particular sex, age, or community, then the quality of the jobs is diminished. The occupational factors such as the individual work preference and occupational class as well affect the trend in job quality (Co?ar, Guner, and Tybout, 2016). For those individuals who are in bad jobs, they can employ the direct participation approach whereby it focuses on enhancing and developing their skill. The same case applies to those people who are in lower-skilled positions and poor paying jobs and thereby they can improve their skills as well as betterment of the job quality. The intra-occupational variations as well affect the fundamental components and the associated features of the job quality (Findlay, Kalleberg, and Warhurst, 2013). Therefore, a higher level of job control, as well as the implementation of the graduate skills and knowledge, can go a long way in enhancing the job quality.

The current trends in job quality improvement

The institutional environment of the country also such as their policies, laws, regulations, and employment regulations determine the outcome of the job quality. Australia has given key policy recommendations that aim at preventing job losses and in case of layoffs, they can intervene early enough. Such policies involve the development of anticipation tools such as risk analysis and economic forecasting at a regional level (OECD, 2016).  Such measures would play a big role in providing re-employment in case of closure or downsizing. Introduction of a mechanism that can work between the employees, employer, and government to offer low-interest credits to prevent excessive dismissals especially during temporary downturns.


The concept of job quality remains elusive and, therefore, more research needs to be carried out to ascertain the reality of this issue. Most people depend on the jobs that they do to gain their livelihood. And most people also want a good job. As such it requires proper policies to be implemented to ensure better, and quality jobs are created. In Australia, the rate of job displacement has been on a high and the consequences huge. However, the Australian government has come up with various policies aimed at reducing the rate of layoffs and ensuring the those displaced are re-employed quickly. By doing so, they are improving the rate of quality jobs and the overall effect will be improved national development.


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Bernhardt, A. and Osterman, P., 2017. Organizing for good jobs: Recent developments and new challenges. Work and Occupations, 44(1), pp.89-112.

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