British workplaces in the shadow of recession

This project will use nationally representative longitudinal data to identify the effect of the current recession on workers and workplaces in the medium-term.

The data is being collected in the 2011 Workplace Employment Relations Survey. Researchers will also undertake analysis of cross-sectional and panel data from 2004-2011. The analysis will explore the nature of changes in employment relations, workplace practices, worker wellbeing and workplace performance.

First findings

According to the latest Workplace Employment Relations Study, the recession has had a profound impact on Britain's workplaces. In many workplaces, managers have responded with changes in their staffing practices, with one third (33%) of employees seeing their wages frozen or cut and 29% seeing their workload increased.

While these manifestations of labour market flexibility obviously are bad news for workers, they may have helped avert even worse outcomes – only 14% of workplaces made compulsory redundancies. This might account for continued high levels of job satisfaction, which have actually risen since the survey was last conducted in 2004.

More details of the first findings are available in this press release from the NIESR and the ESRC (pdf).

Project details



Alex Bryson and John Forth, National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR)

Funding programme:

Open Door

Grant amount and start date:


1 September 2009