Glassdoor reveals what British workers really want from work

Glassdoor, a global leader in insights about jobs and companies, has analysed hundreds of thousands of anonymous reviews to reveal what employees across the UK really want from work – and how this differs amongst workers throughout the UK.

With many companies still adapting to the new ways of working prompted by the pandemic, the findings are part of nationwide research conducted by Glassdoor to help businesses understand what matters most to the local workforce and how to improve employee engagement.

What British workers think of their employers

Annually, employees can write anonymous reviews about their current and previous companies on Glassdoor. Pros and cons of the employer are sought and workplace attributes ranked to provide transparent, balanced and authentic insight into working at a company.

The cities of Bristol, Brighton, London and Manchester plus the Greater London region were the only areas to score above the UK average for every Glassdoor workplace rating.

Scottish-based companies were ranked the lowest in the UK for each of the eight workplace factors by their employees and scored the lowest job satisfaction rate (3.72). Of the English cities analysed, companies in Sheffield performed worst with the lowest scores in four workplace factors – overall job satisfaction (3.75), culture and values (3.61), compensation & benefits (3.37) and positive business outlook (59%).

Companies in Greater London and London city were scored by employees as the highest in the UK for job satisfaction (3.89 out of five). But while the wider Greater London region also topped the score in all but one of the workplace factors, London city only ranked highest for career opportunities (3.64) and positive business outlook (68%)

Employees in London are some of the most satisfied in the country. Workers rated companies across the Greater London region with the UK’s highest scores for seven of the eight Glassdoor workplace factors – and over two-thirds of employees (67%) are positive about the region’s business outlook.

Companies in the North West topped the scores for diversity, equality and inclusion (3.92) with the South East and Greater London close behind (both 3.91). But it is the cities of Brighton and Manchester that stand apart with an individual rating of 4.01 and 4.00 for this workplace factor. Oxford and Nottingham ranked lowest at 3.88.

Manchester was also rated most highly by workers for compensation and benefits (3.55). The lowest score for an English city was 3.37 in Sheffield. Nationwide, Greater London ranked as the highest region (3.89 – well above the UK average) and Scotland the lowest when it came to salary (3.72).

Previous Glassdoor research showed discussion around burnout increased significantly in 2021 amongst employees. According to workers, Brighton performed best for work-life balance (3.74) and Liverpool and Nottingham (both 3.55) the worst.

Bristol and Manchester topped the scores for senior leadership (3.58) and the lowest was in Nottingham (3.41).

Average ratings for Glassdoor workplace factors for companies by region

Glassdoor Rating/Region Average Job Satisfaction Career Opportunities Work/Life Balance Diversity & Inclusion Cultures & Values Senior Leadership Compensation & Benefits Positive Business Outlook
UK 3.82 3.52 3.61 3.89 3.73 3.48 3.46 0.64
Greater London 3.89 3.61 3.66 3.91 3.82 3.54 3.51 0.67
Scotland 3.72 3.38 3.49 3.83 3.57 3.33 3.35 0.58
Wales 3.75 3.43 3.53 3.84 3.63 3.42 3.40 0.61
Northern Ireland 3.74 3.43 3.53 3.89 3.60 3.42 3.35 0.62
North East 3.78 3.45 3.55 3.86 3.67 3.46 3.46 0.62
North West 3.80 3.52 3.60 3.92 3.71 3.49 3.48 0.64
East of England 3.79 3.48 3.61 3.86 3.69 3.44 3.44 0.62
South West 3.82 3.51 3.65 3.87 3.73 3.48 3.48 0.63
South East 3.81 3.49 3.62 3.91 3.73 3.47 3.47 0.63
West Midlands 3.78 3.46 3.59 3.86 3.66 3.44 3.43 0.61
East Midlands 3.77 3.45 3.55 3.86 3.65 3.42 3.41 0.60
Yorkshire & Humber 3.78 3.46 3.59 3.86 3.66 3.44 3.43 0.61

Average ratings for Glassdoor workplace factors for companies by English city.

Glassdoor Rating/Region Average Job Satisfaction Career Opportunities Work/Life Balance Diversity & Inclusion Cultures & Values Senior Leadership Compensation & Benefits Positive Business Outlook
UK 3.82 3.52 3.61 3.89 3.73 3.48 3.46 64%
Brighton 3.89 3.52 3.74 4.01 3.80 3.54 3.52 64%
Bristol 3.89 3.59 3.63 3.93 3.82 3.58 3.54 66%
Leeds 3.83 3.51 3.64 3.93 3.74 3.51 3.47 63%
Liverpool 3.77 3.42 3.55 3.89 3.66 3.43 3.38 61%
London 3.92 3.64 3.69 3.95 3.85 3. 57 3.53 68%
Manchester 3.88 3.62 3.68 4.00 3.80 3.58 3.55 66%
Nottingham 3.79 3.44 3.55 3.88 3.67 3.41 3.38 60%
Oxford 3.89 3.55 3.63 3.88 3.77 3.50 3.38 63%
Sheffield 3.75 3.43 3.58 3.89 3.61 3.42 3.37 59%

What are employers across the UK talking about?

Analysing the content of anonymous employee reviews for companies across the UK from the last year, Glassdoor found a variety of keywords shared across regions and those which were unique to their location:

‘Mental health’ featured heavily in the pros section of reviews by employees from the North West, Scotland, South West and Yorkshire & Humber regions and individually in Manchester and Bristol. This positive sentiment suggests that companies in these areas are prioritising wellbeing and employees are feeling the benefits of this in the workplace.

The issue of ‘parking’ was seen in the pros and cons of nearly every region in the UK except Greater London, indicating this is an important employee benefit and a focus for workers as they make a return to the office.

‘Hybrid’ and ‘flexi’ emerged as a keyword in the pros section in employee reviews across the West Midlands, Wales, Northern Ireland and the North East, and specifically in the cities of Liverpool and Bristol. This implies that companies in these areas are providing flexible working conditions enjoyed by workers.

Discussions around ‘understaffing’ appeared in the cons sections of workers from Scotland, Wales, the South East and the North East, indicating that staff may be feeling increased pressure in these regions.

Despite low overall scores for career opportunities, ‘promotion’ featured positively in reviews from workers across the West Midlands, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland and specifically in Liverpool. This suggests that when progression is available, it is seen favourably. Employees in the East of England and Leeds both had ‘recognition’ prominent in their cons section, suggesting the workers here are looking for greater acknowledgement.

‘Co-workers’ and ‘teamwork’ were of importance to those from Northern Ireland, East of England and the North East. And with one in four employees feeling less connected to company culture, the need for a friendly, community-like work environment can be seen as the majority of regions called out ‘unsociable’ and ‘boring’ in the cons of employee reviews.

While ‘bureaucracy’, ‘political’ and ‘transparent’ were words unique to Greater London, Brighton was the only city or region to include ‘creative’, ‘favouritism’ was frequently used in the West Midlands, ‘expensive’ in Oxford and for workers in Wales, it was ‘annual leave’.

‘Forward-thinking’ appeared in both Bristol and the West Midlands, but uncertainty can be felt in the East Midlands where ‘redundancy’ was noted as a keyword, in Brighton and Nottingham which talked about ‘restructure’ negatively, and in Northern Ireland where job ‘security’ was also prominent in the cons section. ‘Trust’ was also featured negatively in the cities of Leeds, Brighton and Oxford and more widely in the regions of the South West and the East Midlands.

Glassdoor Economist Lauren Thomas says: “Our data shows that workers across the UK want more from their employers – and companies need to pay attention. Continued low employment rates, sky-high job vacancies and increasing numbers of economically-inactive people means hiring and retaining talent will remain tough in 2022.

“Companies across the country are working hard to ensure employees feel part of a diverse and inclusive workplace culture that offers a sense of belonging, but there is still room for improvement across pay, senior leadership and career opportunities. Job seekers want flexibility, community – and good parking! Focusing on employee engagement can help create better workplace culture, reduce staff turnover, increase productivity and provide greater job satisfaction.”

enewsletter