Scotland leads the way in developing great businesses from Eduard Iacob's blog

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Scotland leads the way in developing great businesses

How can Scotland’s Fair Work Framework lead to sustained enhancements
in both business performance and quality of working life?

Our vision is that, by 2025, people in Scotland will have a world-leading working life where fair work drives success, wellbeing and prosperity for individuals, businesses, organisations and society.

Fair Work Framework 2016

Join us at one of the highly interactive workshops that we’re facilitating (jointly with BITC Scotland) on behalf of the Scottish Government. They're designed to provide an introduction to workplace innovation and its business benefits, as well as offering participants an opportunity to help shape the Government’s Fair Work Action Plan.

Each workshop will be led by international experts Peter Totterdill and Rosemary Exton, plus an inspiring story of transformation told by one of Scotland's business leaders.

Current dates and venues are:

  • Edinburgh – 24 October 2018, 09:00-12:00. Doug Johnston (GM, DS Smith Lockerbie) will demonstrate how the company achieved remarkable improvements in business performance through employee-driven improvement and innovation. Book here.
  • Aberdeen – 31 October 2018, 10:00-11:30. Rob Cowman (Engineering Director, East Coast Oil & Gas) describes a strategy for growth that is keeping enterprise and a culture of innovation at the heart of the company's vision and values. Book here.
  • Stirling – 20 November, 09:00-12:00. Mairi Martin (Leader Cornerstone Central) demonstrates the transformational leadership that inspired radical change in her organisation, leading to win-win outcomes for the business, its staff and its clients. Book here.
  • Dumfries – 21 November, 09:30-12:00. Aimee Doole (Marketing and Communications Manager, Booth Welsh) will show how this engineering services company gained a competitive edgae by harnessing the ideas and creativity of its employees, leading to widespread business improvements and a more engaged workforce. Book here.

Why does Fair Work matter?

Fair Work lies at the heart of the vision for Scotland’s economy. It promises win-win-win outcomes for companies, their employees and society as a whole. – prosperous businesses, good jobs and an inclusive labour market. n 2016, Scotland’s Fair Work Convention, comprising a cross section of employers, trade unions, policymakers, researchers and other stakeholders published the Fair Work Framework. It argues that five core principles should drive the development of Scotland’s economy: employee voice, job security, opportunity, fulfilment and respect.


It’s almost a cliché to point out that the world is changing quickly, and that businesses need to adapt and become much more versatile if they are to thrive in this increasingly volatile environment.

And survival isn’t compulsory.

So the challenge is to ensure that the organisational structures, working practices and cultures of our companies unleashes this potential to reflect the demands of the twenty-first century.

Our table below shows how the Framework’s core values are aligned with the transition from traditional workplaces characterised by rigid and top-down structures, to the versatility and engagement required to compete and survive in an innovation-driven economy:

We see the principles of Fair Work operating at two levels. There are the baseline factors which form the foundations of Fair Work and are widely recognised as the mark of any good employer. These include constructive employment relations, effective information and consultation arrangements, a commitment to equality and diversity measures, learning and development opportunities, fair remuneration (including the Real Living Wage), flexible working, positive working relationships, and a presumption of employment stability. These factors do not in themselves lead either to high performance or to great places to work, but they provide the necessary preconditions for those that do.

The key concept here is workplace innovation. It describes workplace practices and cultures which lead to significant and sustainable improvements in both organisational performance and employee engagement, well-being and opportunity. It is the realisation of Fair Work principles in practice.

With a strong basis in evidence, workplace innovation is also a very practical concept. It includes all those factors that enable employees at every level to use and develop their knowledge, skills and creativity to the full, including how their jobs are designed, the teams they work in, the technologies they use, their opportunities to contribute ideas and to take part in improvement and innovation, how their performance is measured, and how their managers and leaders act.

Our team and its partners co-created workplace innovation as a concept and it’s spreading. It is part of the EU’s strategy for innovation and competitiveness, and has been adopted by governments in several European countries, including Scotland, as a means of boosting economic growth and quality of working life.

We found four distinct bundles of workplace practices (or ‘Elements’), each associated with high performance and workforce health and well-being:

  • Jobs and Teams
  • Structures, Management and Procedures
  • Employee-Driven Improvement and Innovation
  • Co-Created Leadership and Employee Voice.

Download our free Guide to Workplace Innovation for a fuller explanation.

The figure below shows how baseline factors and workplace innovation practices interact to create high performance and high quality of working life when Fair Work becomes part of a company’s values and mission, supporting the delivery of its strategic goals and objectives:

Making it happen

Change is rarely a straightforward linear exercise. It usually involves experimentation, failure and a willingness see failure as an opportunity for learning and development. It requires consistency of purpose combined with a willingness to rethink the vision and objectives set out at the start of the journey. The more you try to change an organisation, the more you learn about it and the higher you raise your aspirations. Your understanding of the nature and extent of the change required will certainly deepen as the journey progresses.

Above all, it means making change happen with people, not to people. They have the knowledge, experience and creativity that can make change happen, and make it stick.

Use it!


Contact us!

Workplace Innovation Limited is a not-for-profit organisation created specifically to stimulate and share better ways of working that lead to enhanced performance, higher levels of innovation and better working lives.

We are a dedicated, passionate and highly experienced team, led by:

Peter Totterdill, an international expert and practitioner in workplace innovation, and a Visiting Professor at Kingston University and Mykolas Romeris University Vilnius.

Rosemary Exton, who builds on many years’ experience as a clinician, manager and trade unionist in the NHS to help organisations in many sectors achieve effective and sustainable change.

Let’s talk!   e: contact@workplaceinnovation.eu  w: www.workplaceinnovation.eu