Fair shares: Shifting the balance of power in the workplace to boost productivity and pay

Published Tue 13 May 2014
A new report presents the argument for rolling out models of 'shared capitalism' that give all workers a claim on the collectively created successes of their workplace.

The UK has one of the worst records in Europe for formally empowering employees in decision-making at work. This represents an economic challenge as much as an ethical concern: stark hierarchies of power, esteem and reward at work underpin the UK's poor productivity rates and hold back the wider economy, as well as making too many people's experience of work insecure and lacking in dignity and autonomy.

This report addresses this widespread employee disempowerment, and the UK's over-reliance on a low productivity, low wage economic model, by exploring how better use can be made of employees' skills and talents. Institutional reform could help build on the UK economy's strengths to create more productive, dynamic companies that more equitably distribute reward.

It explores the possibilities of promoting models of 'shared capitalism' that give all workers a claim on the collectively created successes of their workplace, including profit-sharing, employee share-ownership, and expanding the cooperative or mutual sector. It also sets out new measures to ensure that all workers have voice, influence and control in their working lives, which could benefit both companies and the UK economy as a whole by substantially improving workplace productivity. Finally, because these steps alone are not enough to break some firms out of the low productivity, low-wage trap, we make the case for bold economic reforms and new institutions to tackle the deep concentrations of economic power that exist in the UK.

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