Employment Relations in Recession

Project Icon Project Status

Summary & aims

In recent years, the British economy has experienced the most severe downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. This project examined how employment relations in Britain’s workplaces evolved – and how workplaces and employees fared – over this uniquely challenging period. The project drew primarily on the findings from the 2011 Workplace Employment Relations Study (WERS 2011).



The 2011 WERS surveyed managers, employee representatives and individual employees in a nationally-representative sample of around 2,700 workplaces across Britain. The analysis of the survey aimed to quantify the extent of change in the employment relations landscape between 2004 and 2011 and to explore employees’ experiences within this. The project also drew on analysis of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, the British Social Attitudes Survey and data from the Certification Officer.

Timescale and outputs

The project began in 2009 and was completed at the end of 2013. The outputs include book chapters on trade union membership/ influence and employees’ attitudes to work, a report of First Findings from WERS 2011 and a full-length book on the detailed findings from WERS.

Funder and partners

The research was funded by the Nuffield Foundation. The WERS 2011 survey was co-sponsored by DBIS, the ESRC, Acas and UKCES. Survey fieldwork was undertaken by NatCen.

Findings and Recommendations

For more information visit the WERS website 


Lucy Stokes
Principal Economist