The Value of Work

What determines the value of work, and how can we organize institutions and laws in such a way that more people start doing work in a meaningful way?

Work plays an important role in life. It largely determines the social position and well-being of people. Social trends such as technological innovation and flexibilization are changing the nature of work, which many people perceive as a threat. In addition, the social importance of unpaid work, such as voluntary work and informal care, is increasing. Unfortunately, politicians have too little interest in this.

In order to ensure that more people can contribute meaningfully to a strong society, it is important that the laws and regulations surrounding work are in line with the value that different groups in the population attach to different types of work.

The project The Value of Work investigates the value and appreciation of paid and unpaid work. The current second phase of the project looks at the valuation of different types of work, differences in the valuation between population groups and between diverse employers, the role of institutions around work and income, and changes in the valuation of work over time.

Value of Work Monitor

With this, the researchers want to answer the question to what extent institutions around work and income support or hinder people from performing the type of work to which they attach maximum value. For example, do accrued pension rights hinder employees from continuing as self-employed? In order to continuously monitor the valuation of work, the researchers are working on a periodic Value of Work Monitor.

In this way, the project wants to see which adjustments are needed to make legislation and regulations more in line with people’s wishes with regard to work. For example, are more options needed to combine paid work and care duties? Should there be more social protection for self-employed workers? The policy changes ensure that more people get suitable work with which we build an inclusive economy in which everyone participates.

The research will run until the end of 2020 and is carried out by the Amsterdam Institute for Labor Studies (AIAS -HSI) from the University of Amsterdam, led by Professor Paul de Beer.

Interim results current phase The Value of Work

Based on analysis of data from the earlier publication ‘ The value of work in a changing labor market: a review and research agenda ‘ will be the first publication in the series ‘Kort & Briefig’ appeared. The aim of the publication is to present the results of recently conducted research in a short time and in an accessible manner.

This first publication outlines changes in the value (er) of work in the Netherlands and aims to determine how the value (er) of (paid and unpaid) work in the Netherlands is related to the characteristics of the work, the context in which the work is performed and the characteristics of the persons. In addition, it is investigated to what extent the existing institutions around work and income support or hinder people in realizing the maximum value (ring) of their work. Main conclusion: the value of work is under pressure.

Subsequent publications in the ‘Kort & Bondig’ series will present, among other things, the results of a survey on the value (ring) of work that was conducted in the spring of 2019 among a representative sample of the Dutch population and of a number of depths. -interviews with people about (their) work. Attention will also be paid to the relationship between the existing regulations on work and income and the value of different types of work.

Results first phase of The Value of Work

The first phase of this project investigated what different scientific disciplines can teach us about the value of work. Economists, for example, view work very differently from sociologists, psychologists or philosophers.

The first phase of the research shows that work is both a pleasure and a burden, a necessary evil as well as an essential source of fulfillment in life, a cause of stress and burnout, as well as a source of self-esteem and development.

The first phase also shows that the Dutch attach more and more importance to intrinsic aspects of work (such as independence and sufficient challenge) compared to extrinsic aspects (such as pay and status).

Regarding legislation and regulations, the Netherlands appears to belong to a group of countries such as Belgium, France, Germany and Italy, which distinguishes itself by strict regulation of the individual employment contract with relatively few facilities that support the combination of work and care. Read more about the results from the first phase of this project , or watch a video of the closing conference of this phase below.

Photos : ILO and Boudewijn Bollmann

Publicaties ‘De veranderende waarde van werk’

(in Dutch)

Prof. Dr. Paul de Beer Director AIAS & Professor by special appointment Henri Polak Chair of Industrial Relations