Changing nature of work and working life

Social and economic forces are changing the nature of work. The WRC has extensive experience in conducting research into how the organisation and performance of work is changing the lives of workers, and in identifying the implications for government, employers, workers and their organisations.

Through our research, we have established that the quality of jobs is just as important as the quantity of jobs for economic and social wellbeing. We believe that categorising jobs into either 'good jobs' or 'bad jobs' is simplistic. The quality of jobs can have positive and negative consequences for workplace health and safety, can generate in-work poverty, and can perpetuate inequalities in the labour market and impact on individuals, families, communities, workplaces and the economy. This is a vital research area for the future and ties in, more broadly, with the International Labour Organisation's Decent Work Agenda.

The transformation of work has effects well beyond the workplace. The WRC has been at the forefront of considering how people are now required to absorb more and more financial, social and economic risks, as labour has been much more comprehensively incorporated into economic and financial processes across their working lives. Superannuation, housing, health insurance, education and transportation, for example, have all incorporated workers and citizens into an agenda of risk management where households are encouraged to think of themselves as units of financial calculation akin to a business.


Leadership Development Assessment Survey 2013

Client:  Graduate School of Government, University of Sydney

The Graduate School of Government has commissioned the Workplace Research Centre to administer an online leadership development assessment tool. The assessment is conducted for multiple cohorts per year and is based on likert scale questions that aim to assess the leadership skills of students before and after they have completed their course through the GSG.

GSG Alumni Evaluation via an online survey 2012

Client:  Graduate School of Government, University of Sydney

WRC was commissioned by the Graduate School of Government (GSG) at the University of Sydney to develop an online survey tool, collate and analyse the survey data. This aims to provide data and analysis to the GSG as part of their review and evaluation of their postgraduate course offering. That is, GSG uses the data to assist in determining whether the learning outcomes and workplace capabilities targeted by the Graduate Diploma in Public Administration and Master of Public Administration address the critical skills and capabilities required of today's public sector employees. The survey results are also used to further improve and tailor the courses where necessary to better suit the needs of the NSW public sector.

The role of VET in workforce development: a story of conflicting expectations 2011

Client:  National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)

This final report from a three-year research program focuses on the ability of VET to respond to workforce development challenges, particularly in industries characterised as low-skill entry points to the labour market. The key findings highlight the lack of incentive for workers in the meat processing and childcare sectors to train beyond mandatory levels due to casualised working arrangements and little reward for upgrading qualifications. To improve workforce development, using the concept of a 'vocation' implies the capacity to move literally between different skill clusters potentially removing some of the stigma attached to hierarchical structures.

Financial Literacy In A Transitional Demographic 2011

Client:  Commonwealth Bank Foundation

The Workplace Research Centre was commissioned by the Commonwealth Bank Foundation to investigate levels of financial literacy in a young, transitional demographic - those aged 18 to 24 enrolled in vocational education and training (VET). The research investigated not only the understanding of 245 VET students, but also their practices, attitudes and behaviours in numerous areas of personal financial decision making. Using a combination of an online survey and focus groups, six distinct areas were investigated- numeracy and money management, budgeting and living within means, choosing financial products, saving and planning, borrowing and debt literacy, and recourse and self-help.

Retirement adequacy and the role of compulsory superannuation: Results of a study of cleaners and security guards 2010

Client:  Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union

This mainly quantitative simulates the retirement income outcomes of two diverse occupational groups: security guards, who are typically full time male average earners; and cleaners, who are a heterogeneous group of mostly female low wage earners. The report highlights the interaction between superannuation and the age pension, and the divergence of outcomes between these two groups. The results are contextualised within policy settings which are moving away from full age pensions towards private provision.

Profile of women's employment in NSW: Trends and issues 2010

Client:  NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet

Together with the Women and Work Research Group at the University of Sydney, the Workplace Research Centre undertook extensive data synthesis and analysis of women in NSW, covering issues such as labour market participation, employment and unemployment, women's pay, labour market segregation, education and training, balancing work and care, and women's retirement incomes The report also analysed equity groups such as Indigenous women, women with disability.

The experience of mortgage distress in Western Sydney 2010

Client:  RBA - Reserve Bank of Australia/ University of Western Sydney

Shifting Risk: Work and working life in Australia 2010

Client:  ACTU - Australian Council of Trade unions

Evaluating Workchoices 2010

Client:  Chifley Research Centre

This report is designed to provide a summary and review of research published over the period 1997-2008 on the impact of the reforms to employment relations legislation which occurred during that period. The main aim of the report is to assess the practical impact of the Coalition's legislative programme upon various aspects of labour market and employment relations institutions, arrangements and behaviour. The report also aims to say something about the nature of research in this area, and some of the disciplinary difficulties associated with it.

Governance and Performance in superanuation fund management - an issues and research design paper 2009

Client:  Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees

This research project analysed the relationship between governance and performance in the Australian superannuation industry. The industry has developed around a range of differing fund governance arrangements. A clear differentiation here is the development of different fund types, including corporate, public sector, industry and retail master trusts. The research produced a review of fund governance research and results of research on the relationship between governance and fund performance. The main motivation for the research was to test whether differential fund performance can be detected between fund-types. Subsequent research will use different governance attributes that cut across fund types to test for performance effects. The research was funded by the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees.

Leadership Development Assessment Tool for Non-Award Students 2009

Client:  Graduate School of Government, University of Sydney

WRC was commissioned by the Graduate School of Government at the University of Sydney to develop an online survey tool, collate and analyse the survey data. The objective of the survey is to collect baseline data on the leadership capabilities of students undertaking the Graduate Diploma or Masters in Public Administration. Based around a "360 Leadership Development Assessment", a range of nominated assessors, including the student, their manager, peers and clients, assess the leadership performance of the student at the beginning of the course, identifying strengths, weaknesses and priorities for development.

Survey of SIP Grantees: Views and Experiences of 2005/06 grantees in the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear Strategic Investment Program 2008

Client:  Dept of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

This project explored the impact of the TCF Strategic Investment Program within recipient businesses, and provided guidance on how government support to these enterprises should operate in the future. The research involved an online survey of senior personnel from entities receiving a Strategic Investment Program grant. Enterprise profile data was collected in addition to views on current and changing market conditions, the nature of the SIP grant and how it had helped the business and what, if any, support would be required into the future.

Performance and Fund flows 2008

Client:  Industry Super Network

This project aims to provide empirical evidence on the relationship between fund performance and fund flows. The project uses fund performance metrics developed in a separate project along with fund flow data to test whether funds that consistently outperform attract funds and those that consistently underperform lose funds. The flow of funds within the industry is one of the mechanisms by which competition within the funds management industry should see an equalisation of returns. The absence of sufficient performance-related flows is one of the reasons that performance persistence has been observed in empirical research on funds. Further, the project examines the desirable and actual role of financial planners in informing fund members about performance and advising them on fund switching options.

ARC Low Paid Project: Initial findings from HILDA analysis 2007

Client:  ARC - Australian Research Council

This report was commissioned as part of an Australian Research Council Linkage funded project into the low paid. The project was led by Barbara Pocock and Helen Masterrman-Smith and brought together five industry partners, the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (now United Voice), The Brotherhood of St Lawrence, Unions NSW, the Victorian Trades Hall and Unions SA. The Workplace Research Centre was commissioned to provide quantitative analysis of the characteristics of the low paid using HILDA data.