How to Obtain Decent Work

I recently attended a conference that focused on career development and various current research trends in this area. One thing that surprised many individuals at the conference is the desire to seek decent work, and the concept of decent work for all individuals.

Taken from definition of decent work as identified by the International Labour Organisation, the concept of decent work builds on the fact that work is central to a satisfactory life, including human health and wellbeing.

When looking at decent work we need to ensure that individuals look closely at their own definition of decent work. The reason for this is that the perception of not being in decent work has a substantial impact on mental health as well as economic outcomes. Furthermore, what is decent to one individual is something that will meet their needs and this is destined to be different to the needs of all other individuals.

So what is decent work?

Decent work is work that provides us with opportunity to secure work that is fair in the sense of the income it provides, security to the individual and in the work environment that they are in and the protection for the employee and for those important to them. This will help them achieve financial security, health and wellbeing to a level that is seen as fair and satisfactory to them?

Recent research also identifies that decent work will ensure that the three fundamental psychological needs are met which includes:

  • The need for survival and power
  • The need for social connection
  • The need for self-determination

What is the value of identifying what is decent work to you?

As mentioned previously, decent work provides a great number of personal benefits. Most of all however, decent work provides each individual with the ability of being engaged in something that fulfils their individual needs. By identifying the type of work that you can class as valuable to you, you will be more engaged in the work, committed to lifelong learning about the work and willing to continue to focus on the development needed to remain engaged effectively in the work.

Why is the concept of decent work more important now?

The economic challenges globally mean that decent work may not be as readily available to people as it used to be previously. There is a great notion that decent work needs effective government intervention to ensure that there is appropriate policy that both creates jobs and enforces the environment that meets the requirements of decent work. This includes leave provisions, superannuation, health, flexibility and adaptability to suit the individual needs of their workers. As importantly however, decent work needs to ensure that the transition to less traditional employer-employee relationships such as contract work, outsourcing and portfolio careers can still deliver the financial benefits previously enjoyed in the traditional worker to employer relationship.

Why should you look at what decent work means to you?

We are all different. Our needs are different. What satisfies us and what we seek in our work environment is different. Our family models are different and our ability to work with different work approaches and styles whilst still meet our needs will vary. For this reason, we all need to look at clarifying what is decent work to our own environment. What do we need in our work to be fulfilled? What is the work environment that we seek for this? What economy do we need to be constructing our lives in to meet these needs? All of these factors will play a large part in making effective career decisions that support us in achieving our own decent work?

What should we look at first?

All aspects of career investigation take a great deal of personal assessment to understand. A good career plan will look holistically at what your needs are to achieve career satisfaction, and lead to the concept of decent work. When needing to achieve this the most effective place to start is to look at your career drivers, what is important to you that you need to achieve in your life to be satisfied. These drivers may be things such as material goods, spiritual enlightenment, recognised expertise, autonomy, team engagement etc. Once these are identified then you will be able to look at where are at in your career and if these are being achieved or not. These answers will lead to more questions about what is needed, when is it needed and how will it be achieved.

How often should this be reviewed?

As the world of work changes, economy and government influences change, and your own needs change, your personal concept of decent work will also change. This means that there is no expected end to analysing what decent work means to you and the career plan needed to achieve that. This should be the case throughout your career, and even in to retirement. This will ensure that you remain satisfied, committed to lifelong learning to achieve decent work and remain committed to the environment that fulfils this need for you.

By Rebecca Fraser

Rebecca Fraser is a Leader of learning and development for organisations and individuals. She is highly recognised for her contribution to the industry and for her work in the media providing information on modern day job search strategies. She is the author of ‘How to get a job in the 21st century’, her newest release on job search and resumes.