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Exploring the multiple dimensions of quality of work

The satisfaction that workers derive from their employment or work arrangement has been a long-running concern for employees and employers, researchers and policy makers. 

While Canada’s economy is navigating conflicting signals about its future path, current low unemployment rates and labour shortages have necessitated that increased attention be paid to the Quality of Work that Canadian jobs provide, and how that can be defined and improved.

Understanding Quality of Work is important for the future of work in Canada, as work quality reflects various dimensions of the health of the labour market – combining not only income and benefits, but also employment security, work environment, professional growth potential and overall social environment.

  • For workers, the quality of their experience can affect their decisions about whether and where to work as well as how much effort to invest in their role.
  • For employers, maximizing the returns from their workforce impacts how they attract, retain and leverage their labour to enhance productivity and generate loyalty.
  • For policy makers, understanding job quality provides a more nuanced perspective on labour market performance as well as a glimpse of how well social and economic institutions are providing for a variety of populations.

Quality of Work research and partners

Following our Open Call for Expression of Interest for research initiatives that focus on better understanding different aspects of Quality of Work, as well as addressing key gaps in policy and practice related to quality of work issues in the Canadian context, we are working with several organizations to better define, understand and measure the levels of Quality of Work in our economy. These are:

Quality of Work: Literature Review
Purpose Co

This literature review explores in depth the concept of Quality of Work. As our research and knowledge mobilization partner, Purpose Co is working to support the success of this Quality of Work research stream.

“Understanding the Quality of Work of Canada’s Contingent Workforce”

This research explores the varied arrangements for gig work as well as the motivations for why individuals engage in gig work. It sheds light on the nature and quality of gig work in Canada.

“Linking Basic Benefits to the Quality of Work”

This research identifies trends related to the rise of self-employment, and highlights the implications this has had on access to basic benefits amongst this segment.

“Shaping the Future of Work in Canada: Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic”
EKOS Research Associates

This research produces a detailed analysis of how job quality changed in the pandemic, focusing on worker assessments, including psychosocial and economic features of employment, to inform future job arrangements and conditions as well as optimizing job quality for workers, employers and society.

“Understanding CERB’s Impact: More than just an income support program?”
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

This research attempts to understand the full impact of COVID-19 related income support to inform future income support programs.

“The relevance of right to disconnect to the Canadian post-pandemic context”

This policy research updates our understanding of policy and public perception of the right to disconnect from workplace communications during non-working hours in the post-COVID world.

“Assessing the Impact of Hybrid Work Models on Work Quality”
Digital Nova Scotia

This study investigates the ‘new normal’ of hybrid and virtual work and its implications for quality of work.

“The Impact of Digital Technologies on Quality of Work in Canada”
Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC)

This research explores how technological developments influence the quality of work and skilling considerations in Canada.

“Quality of Work Life in Alternative Careers”
York University

This research examines how skilled immigrants experience employment in alternative careers and feelings of inclusion, along with employers’ role in looking at incentives or reducing barriers to improve work quality and the role of diversity and inclusion initiatives. 

“Identifying solutions towards aspired career pathways and quality of work in the hospitality and tourism sector – newcomers’ perspectives”
Skills for Change

This research provides data to better understand labour market trends, the challenges faced by workers in the hospitality sector as well as the challenges faced by employers in ensuring quality of work.

“Work Quality Experience and Engagement among Young Workers”
Toronto Metropolitan University

The goal of this research is to advance understanding of the distinct employment experiences of young workers, and to identify potential policy responses oriented towards improving their work quality.

“Understanding the relationship between quality of work and remote work support and monitoring”
Toronto Metropolitan University Leadership Lab

This project conducts a national study to inform skills development, policy and stakeholder decisions, and deepens our understandings of the quality of work in Canada in an emerging and challenging context.

“Examining the Multidimensional Aspects of Quality of Work for Public Health Professionals in Canada”
Toronto Metropolitan University School of Occupational and Public Health

This study explores the quality of work in Canada and develops a holistic framework for an integrated future of work with societal, cultural and economic dimensions.

“Workplace Innovation for Quality of Work: Research Synthesis and Recommendations on Adaptation for Canadian Contexts”
WEtech Alliance
Workplace Innovation Network for Canada

This project analyzes and adapt the research base on Workplace Innovation for Quality of Work – mainly from Europe– to support more innovative, engaging and inclusive workplaces in Canada.

“Examining Quality of Work in Grand Erie”
Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie

This project identifies gaps in how employers, employees and job seekers within certain industries in the Grand Erie area perceive issues related to quality of work within their sector/workplaces.

“Gig Workers living with disabilities in Canada: Exploring their Experiences and Identifying Interventions to Improve their Safety and Well-being”
Work Wellness Institute (WWi)

This research focuses on policies and regulations that protect and facilitate gig work for Canadians with disabilities.

“Autism CanTech!: Social Return on Investment and Policy Review”
Norquest College

This research addresses the key issues of under-employment of disabled Canadians, the low quality of work provided to many disabled Canadians, and employer concerns about quality of work produced when employing disabled persons.

“Did the Pandemic and Current Labour Shortages Change the Quality of Jobs?”
McGill University

This research aims to understand the pandemic’s impact on job quality, including benefits, skills requirements and compensation, how the changes varied across industries and occupations, and how those trends related to labour shortages.

“The Future is Hybrid: Skills & Strategies for Inclusive, Quality post-COVID Workplaces”
Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER)

This project aims to understand the learning and skills development needs for hybrid work environments.