This paper examines the concept of ‘good work’ and discusses its role in supporting improvements in employee engagement, wellbeing, performance and productivity as businesses across the EU strive to rebuild market share and profitability.

Since the financial crisis, some of our basic assumptions about how European economies work and the purpose and conduct of business have been fundamentally shaken. There are, of course, immediate economic consequences of the credit crunch and recession. There are higher levels of business failure and unemployment across all developed economies, with severe cuts in public spending and rising taxes to follow. But the significance of the crisis in relation to the workplace reaches still further than that.

It has also exposed issues of business purpose and leadership, and of morality, transparency and trust. The values of work are in the dock. How can work which leads to such consequences be thought of as ‘good’ work? How can the judgement of such leadership be trusted? Is the shaky consensus which has existed around the so-called ‘European Social Model’ finally begun to erode under the pressure of recession?

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