Being able to provide fair and decent work is crucial if your company want to attract and retain best talent, build positive reputation and play a positive role in society.


Fair and decent work can be a key pathway for Small and Medium Sized (SME) enterprises in many countries and workplaces. Lessons from role model SMEs can illuminate and inspire others. To appreciate and potentially change a range of small things which together can make a big difference. The 8 fair and decent work tips and pathways are defined and illustrated with reference to a company which is a verified fair and decent work employer in the hard sense, around pay, employment status, work-life balance and well-being, and in which each of these features strongly in the fair work tip mix. None of these case companies are claiming to be ‘saintly’ in every aspect, but overall their employees do rate them highly as fair and decent work employers. The full report, with all data, is available here.


One Team. S&C Engineering are a small family run company with clients in various sectors. This short video illustrates how they are exemplars of One Team. This is understood as the directors being familiar with and committed to coaching staff. Being ‘one team’, means that leadership is shared by others in and outside of formal management roles. Their ‘meet the team’ video is popular and different. It’s difficult to have a website that isn’t over complicated and too diverse to understand them as a business and induce contact. The video was to show S&C are approachable, have good people working for them, they are one team, employees really like to be here, and like what they do and what they do for customers.


Being Resourceful. Let’s look at XS Stock, an internet retailer. They are recognised to be very efficient for the type of company they are. But employees here have a different experience. They don’t use anyone from outside unless they really have to, finding and drawing on skills and knowledge in house from technology upgrades to design, finding and using resources in-house.


Clan Culture. Worksmart Contracts are an interiors fit out  and refurbishment company, and are exemplars of a Clan Culture, building and maintaining teams across those who are office based and those who are not. Clan Cultures tend to have high levels of both group sociability and group solidarity; so the culture at work feels both based on relations which are close and friendly and that people have authentically shared objectives.


Kindness. It can be nicely illustrated by M&M Theatre who provide professional theatre productions in schools. The workforce is mainly very young, and the logistical reality of the operations require a substantial degree of care and effort on the part of many people as teams of young people travel the country putting on productions, ranging from classic Pantomimes to educational theatre addressing topics like knife crime.


Values. A great example is KCP Waste Management that offers logistical and consultancy support. Their culture which has been established around a set of values including safety and completing and documenting processes properly every time. They made an acronym for this, CHESS; referring to Communication, Honesty, Efficiency, Service, Safety. This is especially relevant as the work of the operators is very physically difficult and messy, and paperwork for operators associated with that can be challenging. Especially as the local labour market  makes the retention of operators and professional staff who might help with growth tough.


Responsible Ownership. Thorne Travel are a multi- ward winning travel agency. This company was the highest scorer on all factors and with least concerns voiced by staff. The personal focus of the director on knowing and meeting their own work-life needs, and expecting to fulfil the same for others is central to this.


Quick Learning. Brodie Engineering are a long established railway sector engineering company who had aspirations to  grow.  They identified a lack of expertise with HR in house as a gap, and recently appointed an experienced HR manage. They were soon making the most of this specialist HR knowledge and expertise and making the HR manager a valued  business partner in a variety of ways from identifying values to addressing chronic problems with absence,  to setting out a fresh 5 year strategic plan.


Social innovation. This tip is needed to bring together people who appreciate and can act on these other fair and decent work tips for SMEs and promote a pathway to combined development alongside campaigning on factors like pay. Check out the Social Innovation Academy – the first fully online management training programme focusing exclusively on social innovation.  Subscribe to our newsletter, join our private LinkedIn group, become one of our friends or follow us on social media (LinkedInTwitter and Facebook). We welcome all requests for collaboration here.”


This approach to fair work tips embodies systemic Organization Development, and developing resources for employers to access and use. Organisational Development methods are concerned with positively promoting change by discovering, imagining, and delivering inspiring voices and stories. We therefore seek for more fair and decent work tips from employers to learn from a range of voices and identify the best interventions for change.

Stephen is a Senior Lecturer in Human Resources and Organizational Development at the University of West of Scotland, teaching and researching fair and decent work and the underlying elements of culture, values and leadership which can drive progress. As well as the study referenced here on SMEs, which is being followed up with a study specifically on effective mental health service delivery for SME workplaces, he has done work with major employers in the public sector too, where fair and decent work challenges are growing. Check out Stephen’s Research profile and Linked In  and Decent Work Scotland Facebook.  The full report on the study and all these companies can be found at https://www.decentworkscotland.org/

Would you like to learn more from other inspiring social innovators?

Check out the Social Innovation Academy – the first fully online management training programme focusing exclusively on social innovation.  Subscribe to our newsletter, join our private LinkedIn group, become one of our friends or follow us on social media (LinkedInTwitter and Facebook). We welcome all requests for collaboration here.



The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


By providing the information above and clicking on the “get it now” button, you agree that Social Innovation Academy / Limitless will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates, including By clicking above to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.

Everyone is a Changemaker, an interview with Ashoka’s CEO and Chair Bill Drayton.

Ashoka identifies and supports the world's leading social entrepreneurs, learns from the patterns in their innovations, and mobilizes a global community that embraces these new frameworks to build an "everyone a changemaker world."[1] To date, Ashoka has selected more...

BioAgriDeaf and Associazione Ergon: providing job opportunities for young d/Deaf people

This week, at Social Innovation Academy, we focus on BioAgriDeaf and Associazione Ergon that provide job opportunities for young d/Deaf people.

How to reach over 60,000 users worldwide with social innovation in eye health: insights from a chief Executive Officer at Smart Optometry

Over 150 million children worldwide suffer from lazy eye, strabismus, or convergence insufficiency. These issues significantly impact the quality of life – if nothing else, our school system delivers 80% of all knowledge through vision and if we don’t see well, we...

Would you like to collaborate? Get in touch!

Subscribe to Social Innovation Academy updates

Share This