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A quarter of the workforce will find a new job in the next six months

Discover the latest insights from Randstad UK’s research, revealing a significant trend of job mobility among UK workers.

More than a quarter of the UK’s workforce will change employers over the next six months, according to Randstad UK.

Randstad polled 12,000 people in the UK aged 18 to retirement age in January 2024.  Their research found 27 per cent of workers plan to change jobs within the next six months — compared to 24 per cent this time last year, 22 cent in 2022, and 19 per cent in 2021. In January 2020, pre-pandemic, 26 per cent said they planned to change jobs within the next six months.

And almost a fifth of employees in the UK (19 per cent) report having changed employers in the previous six months to January 2024 — compared to 16 per cent in January 2023, 15 per cent in January 2022 and 12 per cent in January 2021. In January 2020, before the pandemic struck, 17 per cent of workers reported having changed employers in the previous six months. Men are more likely to have changed jobs (23 per cent) than women (16 per cent).

The main reasons workers gave for leaving their previous employer was to Improve work-life balance (41 per cent) although 30 per cent report having received an offer they could not refuse — and almost quarter have left due to a Lack of career opportunities (24 per cent). Between a fifth and a quarter (22 per cent) said they left because they Lacked interest in their current job.  A fifth (20 per cent) left due to a Lack of flexible work options.

Victoria Short, the chief executive of Randstad in the UK, said: “The workforce is as mobile now as it was before the pandemic. With over a quarter of employees planning to switch jobs in the next six months, businesses must double down on their efforts to create engaging, supportive, and flexible places to work. That means hybrid and remote working options, competitive pay, and demonstrable opportunities for career advancement — those will all be critical to employers who don’t want to haemorrhage their talent in 2024. We have seen flashes of workforce mobility like this before — specifically in the Great Resignation in the spring of 2021 — but this is set to be a long-term, sustained trend. As such, this represents a significant shift in the employment landscape. Employers will need to adapt quickly if they are to remain attractive in such a dynamic job market.”

When it comes to choosing a new job, the research shows work-life balance remains the top priority for workers (important to 60 per cent of workers), alongside Attractive salary and benefits (58 per cent) and Job security (53 per cent).  The next most important factors when choosing a new role were Good training (52 per cent) and Workplace equity (50 per cent). Workplace equity — whether an organisation offers employees equal opportunities regardless of age, gender, ethnicity —  displaced Pleasant work atmosphere to emerge as a new addition to the top five ranking.

Victoria Short said: “Given the workforce’s massive appetite for training, reskilling, and upskilling, this looks like a good place to start for employers looking to navigate this period of higher staff turnover.”

While career progression is also important to workers — with 57 per cent reporting they don’t have enough opportunity to develop in their current role — more than half of workers who consider themselves a minority (53 per cent) feel they have faced obstacles in their career progression due to their identity.  This compares to a third of those who do not identify as a minority (34 per cent).

Victoria Short said: “These results are a stark reminder of the systemic barriers that still exist in some of the UK’s workplaces. It’s completely unacceptable that over half of workers who identify as being from a minority feel their identity has hindered their career progression. We weren’t even asking about historic issues — from which we might have all moved on more recently — we asked about their current employers, where they are working right now.

Employers must commit to creating truly inclusive environments where every employee has equal opportunity to succeed. This means not only addressing biases but actively fostering diversity at all levels of the organisation.  From a purely pragmatic point of view, half of candidates also tell us that a fair and equitable workplace is important to them when they’re changing jobs — even the most hard-headed employers, not convinced by idealistic arguments, might like to consider their stances in light of those findings.”

The research also found that working from home may be holding back career progression: almost three in every five workers (59 per cent) think that being physically present in the workplace increases their chances of being promoted.

The belief that physical presence can lead to progression is stronger for Gen Z respondents (69 per cent), compared to just half of Boomers.

Victoria Short said: “Employers know offering flexible work makes them more attractive to potential employees.  And there are many benefits to employees who can go hybrid. But employees embracing home working may want to consider their lack of visibility in the organisation and the potential harm to their career progression that it could cause.  While many people are embracing it, the findings from our report suggest that working from home is not without its risks.  Six in ten of the workers we interviewed believe that physical presence in the office has an impact on their chances of getting a promotion.  Women working remotely, in particular, should consider how presenteeism and their comparative lack of time in the office, could be stifling their opportunities.”

quarter of the workforce now uses AI regularly, with 10 per cent using it daily. Over half of workers believe AI will affect their role in the next five years — but only 4 per cent expect to lose their job to AI (compared to over a quarter being ‘very worried’ about losing their job to AI in summer 2023).

Victoria Short said: “The UK is waking up to the AI revolution. More than a fifth of employees — 22 per cent — have received, or are receiving regular AI training. While a slice of the workforce appears to have gained comfort that they’ve nothing to fear from AI, it’s worrying that 61 per cent haven’t had a discussion about AI with their employer. Either it’s too far off to look at yet, or people are burying their heads in the sand.”

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