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date: 08 December 2022

Quality of Working Lifelocked

Quality of Working Lifelocked

  • David E. GuestDavid E. GuestSchool of Management and Business, King's College London


The quality of working life (QWL) is concerned with the conditions and practices in organizations that help to promote the well-being of the workforce. Interest in the subject grew during the second half of the 20th century, in the face of rising worker expectations and the challenges faced by organizations in attracting, motivating, and retaining staff in tight labor markets. Initial conceptual and empirical developments were provided by socio-technical systems theory and motivation theory. Much emphasis was placed on the design of jobs, often in autonomous work groups and in industrial democracy that provided workers with a role in the design of their work. However, a strength as well as a challenge for QWL advocacy is that it covers a wide range of topics relevant to worker well-being, such as fair pay, opportunities for development and growth, healthy working conditions, and work–life balance, as well as the core topic of work design to permit sufficient worker autonomy. In practice, the main focus of interventions addressed work design. For a few years, quality of working life became a “movement” that attracted the interest of industry and governments, providing opportunities for the wider application of the work of psychologists and other social scientists; however, changes in the economic circumstances and in labor markets led to a decline of interest. Nevertheless, relevant research on specific features of QWL continued to provide a strong evidence base. Entering the third decade of the 21st century, a rekindled interest in the topic has emerged among academics and policymakers, due to the advent of digitization, the growth of more precarious forms of employment, and increasing evidence about the adverse impact of poor quality work. Recent writing and research has offered a reconceptualized QWL designed to address the contemporary challenges of the workplace.


  • Organizational and Institutional Psychology

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