For better or for worse? Employee perceptions of job quality

This article is concerned with examining the relationship between flexible working practices and employee perceptions of job quality. In recent years a growing number of employers in the UK has introduced flexible working options for employees in response to increasing concerns over work–life balance and the desire to be seen as an ‘employer of choice’. At the same time there has been considerable policy debate among European Union (EU) members over job quality and the need to create not only more but better jobs. It might be expected that since flexible working affords a degree of choice to employees, it would impact positively on their perceptions of job quality. However, to date few studies have explicitly examined how flexible working can contribute to job quality. Where studies have examined outcomes relevant to aspects of job quality, the evidence is somewhat inconclusive. The research reported in this article was designed to explore how experiences of flexible working have influenced employees' perceptions of a range of job quality dimensions. The findings show a generally strong, positive relationship between flexible working and perceptions of job quality, but also that there are perceived costs to job quality, particularly in relation to longer term opportunities for development and progression, suggesting that the relationship is more complex.

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