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New study lifts the lid on ‘invisible revolution’ amongst UK workforce

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Resignation numbers show no signs of slowing

A global Talent Trends survey of almost 70,000 working adults has uncovered seismic shifts in employee attitudes and motivations – 90% of global respondents and 86% of UK respondents cited they are open to new opportunities in the jobs market.

Conducted by global recruitment consultancy, PageGroup, the survey is one of the largest studies of skilled, white-collar professionals to date. Of the 2,145 UK respondents, 50% classified themselves as active job seekers, either looking for a new role or planning to look in the next six months. A further 36% are on the fence about looking elsewhere – waiting for the economy to improve.

For employers, these figures suggest only 1 in 10 current staff members are confident they will stay put this year. New joiners are likely to be open to new opportunities as their more tenured counterparts, with more than a third of those who started their job as recently as 2022 considered ‘active job seekers’.

The year 2022 witnessed a staggering increase in resignations, with levels almost three times higher than the previous year. In 2021, the resignation rate stood at 15%, but it skyrocketed to 44% in 2022, highlighting a significant shift in employee loyalty and commitment.

The survey also explored the changing landscape of work arrangements. While traditional full-time office roles still accounted for 26% of UK workers, the dominance of remote and hybrid working models became increasingly evident. Fully remote positions accounted for 19% of workers, while a majority of 55% embraced the hybrid approach, combining remote and in-office work.

Economic conditions also played a vital role in employees’ decision-making processes. The study found that 53% of workers were more inclined to seek new employment during periods of poor economic performance. This correlation was even more pronounced in Europe and globally, with percentages reaching 58% and 70%, respectively.

Despite the wave of resignations, a considerable portion of the workforce expressed satisfaction with their current workloads (67%) and salaries (59%). This indicates that many employees are content in their roles but still keep an eye out for potential opportunities that may align better with their aspirations.

Notably, salary emerged as the most important factor when considering a job, with 23% of respondents ranking it as their top priority. However, a concerning 32% of UK respondents revealed that they had not received a pay rise in the past two years, indicating a potential source of dissatisfaction for a significant portion of the workforce.

In terms of overall wellbeing and work/life balance, the survey revealed that UK workers prioritise these aspects over career success. An overwhelming majority of 76% indicated that they would prioritise a better work/life balance and mental health over climbing the career ladder. Comparatively, in Europe, this percentage was slightly lower at 73%, and globally, it stood at 67%.

Furthermore, the study highlighted that 57% of UK workers would reject a promotion if they believed it would negatively impact their wellbeing. This finding underlines the growing importance of maintaining a healthy work/life balance and prioritising personal wellbeing in the face of professional advancements.

The survey findings offer valuable insights into the current dynamics of the UK job market, indicating a need for employers to adapt and cater to the evolving expectations and desires of their workforce. To attract and retain talent, organisations must not only offer competitive salaries but also focus on providing flexible work arrangements, nurturing positive work environments, and prioritising employee well-being.

Doug Rode, Managing Director UK and Ireland at Michael Page said: “There’s a lot of fog and ambiguity around what’s going on in the market, which is why we wanted to go straight to the source and find out what’s making both workers and employers tick. Happy workers are still liable to leave if a better opportunity comes along and many professionals are adopting a more ‘transactional’ view of their jobs, putting their own value first.”

Nicholas Kirk, CEO, PageGroup added: “Every region has seen a transformative change across all age groups, markets, and industries. It’s clear there has been a universal reset of people’s relationships with their jobs. Work-life balance, a competitive salary, and strong career progression prospects have become non-negotiable, and professionals are willing to leave their current roles to secure these elsewhere.”

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