The UK’s “productivity crisis” – the flatlining of economy-wide productivity since the global financial crisis – is the single most pressing issue facing the UK economy. The cost of this crisis are already multiples of even the worstcase Brexit scenario. Understanding the roots of this productivity problem, and replanting them in more fertile soil, is the signature challenge facing UK economic policymakers today.

When it comes to the link between productivity and one key aspect of work – pay – this relationship has been extensively studied. The two are strongly positively correlated. In part, that reflects a causative chain running from low productivity through to low pay: at a level of a company, it is productivity gains that, over time, “pay” for real pay rises. It should come as no surprise, then, that the “lost decade” for UK productivity has coincided with a lost decade for real pay too.

This volume brings together a collection of insightful essays exploring, in greater depth than perhaps ever previously, the relationship between productivity and work quality. As with pay, this relationship is a two-way street. More productive, higher-performing firms are more likely to invest in enhanced worker security, opportunity, training and engagement. In that sense, productivity “pays” for rises in work quality.

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