Background. In recent years, awareness of the importance of the quality of jobs has grown in Europe (cf. Lisbon Strategy and Europe 2020). Analytically, job quality can be divided in two components: intrinsic 'work quality' (job content and working conditions) and 'employment quality' (employment conditions and relations). Although most research on the topic of job quality has focused on job content and/or working conditions, also employment conditions and relations have changed considerably from the end of the 1970's onwards. Around that time, the industrialised economies of Europe and the US were confronted with a combination of a severe economic recession, globalisation processes, profound demographic changes and technological innovations with far-reaching consequences. The changes in the nature and the organisation of work are related to the increased demands for flexibility and competitiveness that followed the breaking-down of the post-Second World War model of industrial mass production. This process of 'de-standardisation', causing profound changes in the nature of work, is compelling the need to assess the magnitude of these changes and their consequences for the work-related well-being of employees. Specific attention will be paid to the profile of contemporary employment arrangements regarding variables that characterise the 'new ways of work', including teleworking, working from home, working with computer/internet, work-life balance and prospects for career advancement.

Objectives. The goal of this study is twofold: first, we aim to investigate - in a sample of wage-earners from the EU27 - the characteristics of contemporary employment arrangements when it comes to the introduction of new ways of work. Our second goal is to examine the relationships between employment quality on the one hand and three indicators reflecting the work-related well-being of individual employees (job satisfaction, the perception of health or safety at risk because of work and the perceived ability to stay in employment until the age of 60) on the other hand.

Method. Data from the 2005 and 2010 European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) are used. First of all, Latent Class Clustering techniques are applied to construct a typology of contemporary employment arrangements, based on seven facets of employment quality: [1] employment (in)stability, [2] (low) material rewards, [3] (erosion of) workers' rights and social protection, [4] (de-)standardised working time arrangements, [5] (limited) employability opportunities, [6] collective (dis)organisation and [7] (im)balanced interpersonal power relations. Secondly, descriptive analytical techniques and binary logistic regression analyses are used to relate the typology to respectively variables that characterise the new ways of work and the indicators for work-related well-being.

Results. Five types of contemporary employment arrangements are found, each with a unique answering pattern regarding the facets of employment quality: (1) 'standard employment-like jobs'; (2) 'instrumental jobs'; (3) 'precarious intensive jobs'; (4) 'precarious unsustainable jobs' and (5) 'portfolio jobs' (Van Aerden et al. 2013). These five types of jobs clearly differ on the variables reflecting the new ways of work and show clear relationships with the three work-related well-being variables, even when controlled for intrinsic work quality indicators.

Conclusion. The typological approach to the measurement of employment quality provides innovative insights into the structuring of contemporary employment arrangements among European wage-earners, the extent to which new ways of work have been introduced in these types of employment and the consequences for the work-related well-being of employees. The results of this study will raise awareness to the consequences for contemporary employment of both the increased demand for employment flexibility and competitiveness and the 'new ways of work'.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPaper presented at the COST International Conference
Place of PublicationHertfordshire, UK
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sep 2014

    Research areas

  • Employment quality, Contemporary employment, New ways of work, Work-related well-being

ID: 2494540