Productivity, technology and working anywhere

Client: Citrix

This study follows on from our 2016 investigation into Working Anywhere which highlighted the tipping point of mobile working in the UK.
The global financial crisis has left a significant impression on business in the UK. Productivity has been slow to recover and this matters because without a return to growth this places constraints on business profits, wages, public revenues and in turn living standards. As businesses face increasing competitive pressures, from on-going developments in a global economy, with rapid advances in technology and an increasing pace of innovation, it is necessary to take a closer look at how businesses are run and where productivity gains can be sought. This project seeks to understand the complex relationship between technology and productivity and how businesses can drive growth through adopting new ways of working and cultures of innovation.

Read the full report here

Gender equality in the legal profession

Client: Queen’s Counsel Appointments

In October 2016, the Lord Chancellor, Liz Truss MP, lamented the lack of women in senior position in the legal profession and judiciary.

The Work Foundation are supporting initiatives in this area by working with Queen’s Counsel Appointments to conduct a study to understand the reasons why a lower proportion of women than men apply for appointment to Queen’s Counsel. By interviewing members of the Bar at different stages of their careers, we will seek to identify the drivers of and barriers to making an application. Beyond the primary research, we are engaging with stakeholders across the legal profession to co-create recommendations for action that will be practical and can deliver effective change.

Read the final report here.

Understanding the supply of and demand for cyber skills in the UK

Client: Department for Culture, Media & Sport

Commissioned by Government (DCMS) and undertaken in partnership with Databuild and Security Lancaster, The Work Foundation has been investigating the supply and demand for cyber-security skills in the UK.

In advance of a comprehensive survey of business by Databuild, to estimate the shortage of those with cyber-security skills, we undertook a consultative process with experts from a range of organisations to meet the challenge of how to survey non-experts on highly technical skills needs. This required understanding of both the technical and generic business languages and the ability to translate this into an accepted and structured typology.

Our report has fed into the National Cyber Security Strategy which was announced by the Chancellor in November 2016.

An audit of the skills challenges facing the UK’s film industries

Client: British Film Institute

The Work Foundation was commissioned by the British Film Institute (BFI) to undertake a comprehensive audit of the skills challenges facing the UK’s film industries. The project sought to understand the current skills gaps in film and adjacent industries and where these gaps are likely to be in the future.

Our team has conducted interviews with specialists and focus groups with representatives of the film workforce to gain an in-depth insight into a number of the core skills issues facing the film industries. The qualitative exploration was supplemented by quantitative analysis of national statistics, administrative and business data, and Higher/Further Education statistics to map provision of skills development activities and conduct a gap analysis. To ensure validity throughout this project a steering group of senior industry stakeholders have provided oversight and expert challenge to the research.

Drawing from the findings of the research, we have co-produced action and investment plans with the BFI to ensure the continued vibrancy of the industry and its contribution to the UK economy resulting in a £20m investment in the Future Film Skills action plan.

Read the final report here

Health at work policy unit

Client: Napp Pharmaceutical Group

The Health at Work Policy Unit (HWPU) provides evidence-based policy recommendations and commentary on contemporary issues around health, wellbeing and work. It draws on The Work Foundation’s substantial expertise in workforce health, its reputation in the health and wellbeing arena and its relationships with policy makers. The HWPU aims to provide an independent, authoritative and evidence-based voice capable of articulating the views of all stakeholders.

It does this through three main functions:

  • The production of ‘white papers’ which draw on pre-existing literature and data and are informed by expert advice, in order to form innovative, insightful and practical policy recommendations
  • Responding to and influencing political debate
  • Acting as a repository for information, good practice and evidence-based solutions, and monitoring and publicising national, regional or local initiatives.

By thinking big, we hope to form new and innovative policy recommendations which can genuinely alter the attitudes and behaviour of policy makers, health professionals, employers and individuals towards workforce health.

The HWPU is supported by Napp Pharmaceutical Group.

For more information please contact James Chandler at

Ready for Work

Clients: Novartis International AG (founding and lead supporter) and Merck (co-supporter)

Currently in Europe there is an estimated 700,000 people living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), 70% of them diagnosed during their prime working years. However, many people with MS find themselves outside of the labour market, despite being able and willing to continue working.

In response to this we are currently building the case for Workability for individuals living with MS, through our research activity we are conducting reviews of the evidence and mapping key stakeholders across Europe with the aim of developing tools to help overcome the barriers to Workability.

We are working with the European MS Platform on the delivery of this project. For more details please contact Antonella Cardone at

Staff engagement and wellbeing in the NHS

Client: The Health Foundation

The Work Foundation is conducting research to help establish a ‘hard business case’ for the development of employee engagement interventions in the NHS with the hypothesis that improving staff engagement will lead to improved patient outcomes and improved productivity and performance in the health service.

The project, delivered alongside partners at The Point of Care Foundation and RAND Europe, will include a rapid review of the evidence on employee engagement in the NHS, secondary analysis of NHS surveys and other relevant datasets, and case studies of good practice.

Reviewing the effectiveness of Employee Assistance Programmes

Client: EAPA

Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) are among the most commonly used wellbeing interventions in the UK. Given the large potential ‘reach’ of this kind of intervention, and the possible impact on employee wellbeing, The Work Foundation is conducting research to understand the ‘state of the market’ for the use and effectiveness of EAPs in the UK.

The project is being delivered across two stages. The first stage of work surveys HR Managers about their organisational use of EAPs, and also includes in-depth interviews to explore themes regarding EAPs more thoroughly.  Through this stage we are also surveying the providers of EAPs.  Building upon the data gathered, Stage 2 will seek to address some assumptions regarding the Return-on-Investment of EAPs in the workplace.

Read the full report here

Identifying a ‘tipping point’ of mobility?

Client: Hotwire
There is a perceptible trend for remote and mobile working that is being driven by the increased availability of digital technology and new, more flexible working practices.
The Work Foundation was commissioned to explore the idea that this type of working may be reaching a “tipping point” – whereby it becomes more prevalent than traditional office-based work - and how the benefits could be made to outweigh the downsides for both individuals and employers.
To understand the development of these trends, we established a panel of leading academic and industry experts, using a Delphi approach, and surveyed over 500 managers. We were able to independently report that whilst technology is an enabler, people-centred approaches would need to be put in place to allow the true benefits to be realised.

Read the final report here

In search of the ‘Gig-Economy’

The concept of the “gig-economy” reflects two fundamental trends in the labour market – the use of digital platform technologies to extend the reach of service provision and the intensification of fragmentation into self-employment, and micro firms.
Unfortunately the term is used imprecisely to describe many different implementations of these trends, which has led in turn to sweeping generalisations regarding the need for increased intervention on terms and conditions for those working in many different areas of what might imprecisely be called the “gig-economy”.
Our research seeks to establish the argument for greater clarity of definitions to enable effective intervention and regulation to challenge exploitation and to prevent the ‘blunt’ policies which destroy good work.

Read the report here