Rt Hon. Kevin Brennan MP at the IPA AGM - The Labour Party's agenda for the future of work The IPA has an important role to play in shaping the world of work. I want to say a bit about why I believe Involvement and Participation are so important at work, and a bit about Labour's agenda for the workplace. I've always believed there is both a pragmatic and a moral case for involvement at work. It is head and heart if you will. First, let us deal with the pragmatic case. There is a wealth of evidence of the importance of employee involvement. It is linked to positive outcomes for both employers and employees. There is evidence across all sectors that employee engagement is positively linked to both employee satisfaction and organisational success. It is truly a win-win. Take productivity; something that is particularly important at the moment. It is clear that the UK is in the grip of a growing productivity crisis. Productivity really matters. If we are to compete in an increasingly globalised marketplace; and if we are to boost living standards sustainably, we need to boost productivity. But productivity has flat-lined since the last recession. A blip following an economic shock is not unusual. But the duration of this stall is unprecedented. Productivity has barely budged in eight years. It's the longest stall in decades. This is the root cause of the squeeze in wages that working people have experienced over the last few years; the longest squeeze since Gladstone was in power. And the stall has led to a yawning gap between ourselves and the G7. The average worker in Germany and in France produces more in four days than the UK average worker does in five. If we are in a 'global race', then we are falling behind. Now there are many causes of the productivity crisis. It's a complex problem and it defies simple solutions. But it is clear that employee involvement can be part of the solution. As the IPA report showed earlier this year; there is extensive evidence of a link between involvement and productivity. -From national surveys -From behavioural experiments -From the experiences of large employers like BAE The evidence IPA highlighted in their productivity report is fascinating. But if you think about it, it's quite obvious really. Employees are the ones at the coal-face. They understand the organisation, its products and services; its customers and suppliers, its strengths and weaknesses; its processes and how they can be improved. And employees are human beings; they wanted to be treated fairly, to be given a say and involved in decision-making. If you treat employees well and engage with them effectively, you'll get more out of them. I visited Xtrac in Berkshire last week. It's a world leading company that specialises in producing transmissions for formula one, motor racing generally and high end sports cars. It's got the contract to supply the Indy 500, and Nascar in the states and it's a big exporter to Europe. The interesting thing is that it was started as a management buyout with the workforce owning a significant chunk of the shares. I have no doubt that the continuing success of the company and its high levels of productivity owes a lot to the philosophy of involving the workforce in the running of the business. The Government's solution to the productivity crisis leaves a great deal to be desired. This is a serious challenge to our economy, and it requires some serious thought. But as the Chair of the cross-party Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee my friend and colleague Iain Wright MP said, it is a 'vague collection of existing policies' which risks 'collecting dust on a Whitehall bookshelf'. In the absence of any effective measures to address this challenge, Angela, myself and colleagues in the Labour Party will be looking to develop practical proposals that can address the productivity crisis and deliver the shared, sustainable growth that we need. We look forward to further IPA work in contributing to this important debate. We know that trade unions can play a vital role in our modern economy. They are a force for fairness. And one of the great ironies is that trade unions can help deliver what the Tory Government claim they want to see. They want to move towards a high pay, high skill, and high productivity economy. Trade unions, through boosting the bargaining power of working people, help boost pay. Through the work of union learning reps up and down the country, trade unions can help address skills gaps. And trade unions can help boost productivity too. Just look at our world-beating car industry or our pioneering aerospace sector, where high levels of productivity go along side high levels of employee involvement and union membership. Instead of attacking the union movement, we believe the Government should be working with it on shared challenges. That is, after all, the approach that is often taken in unionised workplaces. Partnership working, where employers and unions work together to improve both the experience of work and the performance of the organisation has immense potential benefits for both sides. Just look at the responsible way in which the Trade unions have made the case for steel - working with employers to press the Government and to ensure a future for the industry. But employee involvement is of course about much more than just trade unions. There are many ways in which employers can involve and engage their staff at work; from staff forums to social media. I found IPA’s report on social media and employee voice particularly fascinating. The technology has huge potential for engaging with staff and giving them a voice. It is by nature collaborative and bottom-up. It allows for innovation, interaction and creativity. But this potential is all too often under-used. While organisations often tend to use social media extensively to engage with customers and stakeholders, its use internally has been much more limited. I hope that the rest can learn from the best here. But as I mentioned earlier, while there is a strong practical argument for the importance of employee voice and involvement, I believe there is a compelling moral case too. Many of us spend the majority of our waking hours at work. The quality of that work, and indeed the extent of involvement and job control, can have a significant impact over an individual's health and mental health. Work shapes entire communities and is one of the bedrocks of our very society. Why is it that we should be given a say in all aspects of our lives, other than at work? Why is it that democracy should stop at the factory gates? I want to say a bit about Labour's agenda for the workplace. Last year the Labour Party suffered a devastating defeat. We're now in a process of rebuilding. A crucial part of this process is learning the lessons from our defeat last year, so that we don't make the same mistakes again. We need to broaden our focus. Our offer on the world of work contained many good things - understandably focussing on those at the bottom of the labour market. But we need to say more to the majority of the workforce. While addressing the issue of zero-hours contracts and the Living Wage is important, we need to have a wider offer. As well as understanding where we need to change, we need to understand how the world of work has changed, is changing and indeed will go on to change. We are on the brink of what some have called the fourth industrial revolution. Significant advances in robotics, in digital and in big data will transform the world of work beyond all recognition. These changes have huge disruptive power; they will create millions of jobs. But they will destroy millions of jobs too. We now have the world's largest taxi firm - Uber - which doesn't own a single taxi. And the world's largest accommodation firm - Air BnB - doesn't own a single hotel. We're seeing the emergence of a new form of work in what's known as the gig economy. With workers nominally self-employed, but effectively dependent on a platform to provide them with work. This all raises fundamental questions for the world of work; -How do we achieve the right balance between flexibility and security at work. -How can unions adapt in order to stay relevant in a changing world of work? -How can we help young people prepare for a world of work which is so difficult to predict today? -How do we help those whose jobs and livelihoods are threatened retrain for the new jobs that will be available? -How can the welfare state adapt in order to meet people's need and provide flexible support? We look forward to working with businesses and other employers, with working people and with unions, with academics and experts to examine these questions and develop a way forward. I want to finish by turning to the EU referendum. Kevin Brennan (@KevinBrennanMP) is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Cardiff West and Shadow Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills. You can download IPA's reports - Involvement and Productivity - The missing piece of the puzzle? and ‘Going Digital? Harnessing social media for employee voice – on our website – www.ipa-involve.com.