Employment and Jobs

The Importance of Participatory Decision Making in Designing Quality Jobs

March 27, 2024  • Matt Helmer & Maxwell Johnson

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Good job design is critical in providing workers with satisfying, safe, and rewarding work, and a foundational aspect of designing quality jobs involves incorporating workers’ wisdom and knowledge into decision making, a practice often known as participatory decision making (PDM). PDM has been shown to help improve workers’ job satisfaction and overall well-being. And PDM can help benefit businesses through reduced turnover, higher productivity, and better work quality.

In our previous brief on job design, “Quality Jobs Are a Choice: Why We Need to Think About Job Design,” we discussed the history and current state of job design and made the case that designing good jobs requires intentionality. In this brief, we dive specifically into PDM, including its history, the outcomes it helps create for workers and businesses, its importance in helping firms navigate technological changes and design work-based learning, and numerous examples including those from employee-owned companies.

The scope of this brief is intended to help organizations working at the intersection of job quality and business competitiveness better understand how incorporating workers’ ingenuity through PDM is important for firm success and good jobs. We hope workforce and economic development organizations, community development finance institutions, and other organizations that advise businesses or focus on or fund employer practice change will find this brief helpful in informing their job quality conversations and efforts with employer partners.

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The Economic Opportunities Program advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on publications, blog posts, events, and other announcements.

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