Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have revealed some of the ways that frontline businesses in Norfolk can recruit and retain employees in a post-Covid world.

Last year, UEA launched The Good Jobs Project in partnership with the Norwich Good Economy Commission – encouraging employees and employers in retail, hospitality, care and tourism to share their experiences on workplace wellbeing and productivity.

They also spoke to local organisations such as Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, Norwich City Council and New Anglia LEP.

“The whole project was about ‘what makes a good job?’, but a lot of the time the research and practical resources out there are for office workers or white-collar workers,” explains project lead Dr Helen Fitzhugh.

“What we actually needed was something that's much more open to the people who are really suffering from post-pandemic labour market issues – in retail, hospitality, care, tourism, and even charities.”

Helen and her team have already conducted 36 interviews with employees, employers and public-sector organisations in Norwich. This led to a video, handbook and poster for employers on four practical ways to ‘boost’ the wellbeing and performance of frontline workers.

The four boosts were summarised as ‘let me connect’, ‘care about me and my life’, ‘have my back’ and ‘make me part of the conversation’.

“Sometimes people get caught up in the idea that they need to have beanbags in the offices or regular work outings to attract people,” says Helen. “Actually, the employees we were talking to said it's the fundamentals that matter – for example, being able to pick up their child at a certain time, or being given work opportunities that could help them in their career in the future.”

She adds: “If there is investment in the people who are involved in the business, it creates connection between employer and employee, and that can help with things like the current recruitment and retention crisis.”

Eastern Daily Press: The Good Jobs Project is led by Dr Helen FitzhughThe Good Jobs Project is led by Dr Helen Fitzhugh (Image: Stuart Charlesworth)
By sharing the feedback with employers, Helen hopes to improve the working experience for frontline employees, while showing firms in the region how UEA's research can help them.

“We've got a whole team of people working on workplace wellbeing research,” she says. “We want to use that expertise to really make a difference in our local area.”

Having received some internal funding from UEA, The Good Jobs Project is now looking to interview employers and employees in other parts of Norfolk.

“We are going anywhere in Norfolk that isn't Norwich – primarily Great Yarmouth, King's Lynn, Breckland and north Norfolk,” said Helen. “Because one thing that Norwich doesn't have – which those areas have – is seasonality of workers and some of the challenges of rurality as well.”

As part of the interviews, UEA will also share the ‘four boosts’ resources with employers in those areas, so they can understand the actions they could take.

“Hopefully, what we're doing is not only gathering research data, but also spreading the word about what employers in the area can do,” said Helen. “The short-term goal is to get lots of people involved. The longer-term goal is to add to our resources, videos, infographics, blogs – so people can use them and improve jobs for people in our communities.”

The Good Jobs Project also wants to hear from employees with all types of employment experiences so it can understand what makes a ‘good job' in the local area. Public-facing employees are offered a £20 Love2Shop voucher as a thank you for their time.

If you are based in Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn, Breckland or north Norfolk and would like to add your voice to The Good Jobs Project, please contact Ritchie Woodard at before July 18, 2022.

For more information on taking part and the ‘four boosts’ please visit