Occupational ill-health and absence management under a lean regime in the UK civil service

Philip Taylor, R. Carter, A. Danford, D. Howcroft, R. Richardson, A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

Occupational health and safety remains under-researched in the sociology of work and employment, notwithstanding the seminal work of Nichols (1997) and recent contributions (e.g. Lloyd and James, 2008). Although the ‘unique working environment’ of the call centre stimulated some notable studies (Deery et al, 2002), clerical work generally has attracted less attention. Consequently, this paper reports on white-collar workers’ perceptions and experiences following the path-breaking introduction of lean working into Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, driven by the Gershon review’s efficiency savings. Research design and analysis adopted an holistic model of white-collar occupational ill-health (Taylor et al. 2003). Drawing on quantitative data (840 self-completed surveys) and qualitative sources (semi-structured interviews with managers and union reps) from 6 representative worksites, the findings demonstrate that the abrupt arrival of lean’s brutal form of Taylorism has generated widespread ill-health and sickness. The implementation of punitive sickness absence policy is seen to compound the severity of this alarming situation. ReferencesDeery, S., Iverson, R. and Walsh, J. (2002) ‘Work relationships in telephone call centres: understanding emotional exhaustion and employee withdrawal’, Journal of Management Studies, 39.4:471-496Lloyd, C. and James, S. (2008) ‘Too much pressure? Retailer power and occupational health and safety in the food processing industry’, Work, Employment and Society, 22.4:713-730Nichols, T. (1997) The Sociology of Industrial Injury, London: MansellTaylor, P., Baldry, C., Bain, P. and Ellis, V. (2003) ‘”A unique working environment”: health, sickness and absence management in UK call centres’, Work, Employment and Society, 17.3:435-458

Conference

ConferenceWork, Employment and Society Conference 2010
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityBrighton
Period7/09/109/09/10

Fingerprint

Civil service
Ill-health
Call centres
Working environment
Occupational safety and health
Revenue
Structured interview
Taylorism
Severity
Savings
Sociology
Managers
Telephone
Food processing industry
Management studies
Health
White-collar workers
Research design
Employees
Emotional exhaustion

Keywords

  • occupational ill-health
  • absence management
  • lean regime
  • UK civil service

Cite this

Taylor, P., Carter, R., Danford, A., Howcroft, D., Richardson, R., & Smith, A. (2010). Occupational ill-health and absence management under a lean regime in the UK civil service. Paper presented at Work, Employment and Society Conference 2010, Brighton, United Kingdom.
Taylor, Philip ; Carter, R. ; Danford, A. ; Howcroft, D. ; Richardson, R. ; Smith, A. / Occupational ill-health and absence management under a lean regime in the UK civil service. Paper presented at Work, Employment and Society Conference 2010, Brighton, United Kingdom.
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Taylor, P, Carter, R, Danford, A, Howcroft, D, Richardson, R & Smith, A 2010, 'Occupational ill-health and absence management under a lean regime in the UK civil service' Paper presented at Work, Employment and Society Conference 2010, Brighton, United Kingdom, 7/09/10 - 9/09/10, .

Occupational ill-health and absence management under a lean regime in the UK civil service. / Taylor, Philip; Carter, R.; Danford, A.; Howcroft, D.; Richardson, R.; Smith, A.

2010. Paper presented at Work, Employment and Society Conference 2010, Brighton, United Kingdom.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

TY - CONF

T1 - Occupational ill-health and absence management under a lean regime in the UK civil service

AU - Taylor, Philip

AU - Carter, R.

AU - Danford, A.

AU - Howcroft, D.

AU - Richardson, R.

AU - Smith, A.

PY - 2010/9/8

Y1 - 2010/9/8

N2 - Occupational health and safety remains under-researched in the sociology of work and employment, notwithstanding the seminal work of Nichols (1997) and recent contributions (e.g. Lloyd and James, 2008). Although the ‘unique working environment’ of the call centre stimulated some notable studies (Deery et al, 2002), clerical work generally has attracted less attention. Consequently, this paper reports on white-collar workers’ perceptions and experiences following the path-breaking introduction of lean working into Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, driven by the Gershon review’s efficiency savings. Research design and analysis adopted an holistic model of white-collar occupational ill-health (Taylor et al. 2003). Drawing on quantitative data (840 self-completed surveys) and qualitative sources (semi-structured interviews with managers and union reps) from 6 representative worksites, the findings demonstrate that the abrupt arrival of lean’s brutal form of Taylorism has generated widespread ill-health and sickness. The implementation of punitive sickness absence policy is seen to compound the severity of this alarming situation. ReferencesDeery, S., Iverson, R. and Walsh, J. (2002) ‘Work relationships in telephone call centres: understanding emotional exhaustion and employee withdrawal’, Journal of Management Studies, 39.4:471-496Lloyd, C. and James, S. (2008) ‘Too much pressure? Retailer power and occupational health and safety in the food processing industry’, Work, Employment and Society, 22.4:713-730Nichols, T. (1997) The Sociology of Industrial Injury, London: MansellTaylor, P., Baldry, C., Bain, P. and Ellis, V. (2003) ‘”A unique working environment”: health, sickness and absence management in UK call centres’, Work, Employment and Society, 17.3:435-458

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KW - occupational ill-health

KW - absence management

KW - lean regime

KW - UK civil service

UR - http://www.britsoc.co.uk/NR/rdonlyres/ADF7459B-C56F-4875-8D5D-95385617AFCC/0/WES_Programme_FINAL_270810.pdf

M3 - Paper

ER -

Taylor P, Carter R, Danford A, Howcroft D, Richardson R, Smith A. Occupational ill-health and absence management under a lean regime in the UK civil service. 2010. Paper presented at Work, Employment and Society Conference 2010, Brighton, United Kingdom.