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The real reasons UK workers are walking out the door

New research from LHH reveals the top reasons employees quit their jobs: new hires being paid more, new hires being offered better benefits and burnout.

A new survey* has revealed the factors that are tipping the scales in favour of resignation for the UK’s workforce. Results suggest that as job vacancies soar to historic highs, preferential treatment of new hires tops the list of grievances that make UK employees say ‘I quit’.

The research, which examined the views of 2,000 UK workers, as well as more than 1,000 HR Directors (HRD) and Heads of Learning and Development (L&D), found that nearly half of employees have witnessed new hires receiving preferential treatment over the last 18 months.

Close to half (45%) of employees have discovered that a new hire is getting paid more than them, and a similar number (44%) said their employer has advertised better benefits packages for new hires, which include benefits they don’t currently receive.

The findings come as the numbers of workers quitting their roles increases across the world. In the UK, job vacancies reached an all-time high of 1.25 million between October and December 2021; more than half a million more vacancies when compared with the same period in 2020. [1] With pressure firmly on businesses to recruit new talent, increasingly aggressive recruitment strategies may be on the horizon.

However, survey findings suggest that business’s focus on attracting new hires could come at the expense of their existing workforce. When employees were asked about the factors that had pushed them to hand in their notice over the last 18 months, the top three reasons cited were:

  1. Finding out that new hires were receiving better benefits packages than me
  2. Finding out a new hire was being paid more than me
  3. Having to take time out due to burnout

Other reasons cited by employees included being denied flexible hours to accommodate last minute commitments (such as doctor appointments and childcare duties) and being contacted by colleagues out of hours. This suggests that businesses are expecting their existing to employees to be increasingly available and committed, but that this commitment is not being properly recognised or rewarded.

“There are usually multiple reasons when an employee chooses to hand in their notice, and in some instances, this is not a negative reflection of their current employer, they may simply be ready to move onto new things,” explained JC Townend, CEO of LHH UK and Ireland. “However, there are some resignations that are preventable and usually borne out of frustration with an employer. Without listening to your people or addressing their frustrations, they can build up and one final tipping point can cause an employee to hand in their notice.”

Findings suggest, however, that employees are not being wholly open about the reasons why they are leaving. Despite HRDs reporting increased complaints from employees about all of these grievances, only 3% said they were cited as reasons for an employee handing in their notice.

“These findings are the tip of the iceberg and should serve as a warning to businesses,” Townend added. “Even if grievances of this nature are cited by just one employee, you need to be aware that there could be a much larger proportion of your workforce who are feeling frustrated by the same issues. Companies need to recognise the warning signs that great talent could soon be walking out the door and take steps to address this before it’s too late.”

“This has to include open and honest conversations about things like compensation and benefits, but also how people are coping generally with their level of work and responsibilities. The historic highs we’re seeing when it comes to job vacancies are not just a business challenge – they have a very real impact on the people who are picking up the extra work or putting in extra hours, in order to cover these gaps.”



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