What makes a “Good Job”?

The labor market has seen historic shifts in recent years—from the shock of businesses closing in response to the pandemic in 2020, through the quick upswing in remote work and the Great Resignation of 2021, and the ongoing realities of continued job creation by employers and job changing by employees.

One result of these trends is a heightened focus on defining “good jobs”. For workers, that can mean jobs that provide stability, satisfaction, and an opportunity for advancement. For employers, it often means creating jobs that allow them to recruit and retain qualified candidates.

The U.S. Departments of Labor and Commerce have partnered to identify the types of good jobs that meet both these definitions. The Good Jobs initiative provides a framework for a shared vision of job quality using the following eight principles:

Recruitment and Hiring. Qualified applicants are actively recruited – especially those from underserved communities. Applicants are free from discrimination, including unequal treatment or application of selection criteria that are unrelated to job performance. Applicants are evaluated with relevant skills-based requirements. Unnecessary educational, credentials and experience requirements are minimized.

Benefits. Full-time and part-time workers are provided family-sustaining benefits that promote economic security and mobility. These include health insurance, a retirement plan, workers’ compensation benefits, work-family benefits such as paid leave and caregiving supports, and others that may arise from engagement with workers. Workers are empowered and encouraged to use these benefits.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA). All workers have equal opportunity. Workers are respected, empowered, and treated fairly. DEIA is a core value and practiced norm in the workplace. Individuals from underserved communities do not face systemic barriers in the workplace. Underserved communities are persons adversely affected by persistent poverty, discrimination, or inequality, including Black, Indigenous, people of color; LGBTQ+ individuals; women; immigrants; veterans; individuals with disabilities; individuals in rural communities; individuals without a college degree; individuals with or recovering from substance use disorder; and justice-involved individuals.

Empowerment and Representation. Workers can form and join unions. Workers can engage in protected, concerted activity without fear of retaliation. Workers contribute to decisions about their work, how it is performed, and organizational direction.

Job Security and Working Conditions. Workers have a safe, healthy, and accessible workplace, built on input from workers and their representatives. Workers have job security without arbitrary or discriminatory discipline or dismissal. They have adequate hours and predictable schedules. The use of electronic monitoring, data, and algorithms is transparent, equitable, and carefully deployed with input from workers. Workers are free from harassment, discrimination, and retaliation at work. Workers are properly classified under applicable laws. Temporary or contractor labor solutions are minimized.

Organizational Culture. All workers belong, are valued, contribute meaningfully to the organization, and are engaged and respected especially by leadership.

Pay. All workers are paid a stable and predictable living wage before overtime, tips, and commissions. Workers’ pay is fair, transparent, and equitable. Workers’ wages increase with increased skills and experience.

Skills and Career Advancement. Workers have equitable opportunities and tools to progress to future good jobs within their organizations or outside them. Workers have transparent promotion or advancement opportunities. Workers have access to quality employer- or labor-management-provided training and education.

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