Nearly one in two British workers are considering a new role

New research by Ipsos reveals that in the last three months, 47% of British workers have either looked for another job (29%), thought about quitting their job (26%), applied for another job (13%) or spoken to their employer about resigning (6%).

The research suggests that 2022 will be a turbulent year in the jobs market, putting pressure on employers to do more to retain staff.

More than a quarter of workers (27%) have either asked for a pay rise (12%), a promotion (9%) or spoken to their employer about changing their role (13%).

Worryingly for employers, 51% of workers who did not receive a pay rise last year have subsequently thought about leaving or actively looked to leave – but so have 44% of those who did receive a pay rise.

Younger workers are the most restless – 56% of those aged 16-34 say they have considered quitting or are looking or applying for a job outside their current company. They are also the most likely to demand a pay rise or promotion – 42% of 16-34-year-old workers have tried to negotiate improved job conditions compared with 24% of those aged 35-54 and 11% of those aged 55 or over.

Men are more confident than women about asking for a pay rise, promotion or change of role (32% compared to 22%), although there was no gender difference in the percentages looking for a new job or considering quitting.

What are the reasons for job satisfaction and dissatisfaction?

For those who are happy with their job, salary, while important, is not the main cause of job satisfaction. More important factors are the type of work they do (43%), work-life balance (38%), colleagues (36%), how interesting their work is (35%) and how secure their job is (35%). Thirty-four percent say salary was a factor in job fulfilment.

However, amongst those who are dissatisfied with their current job, more than half (55%) cite pay as the main reason. This is easily the most significant factor – other reasons given are issues with their line manager (28%) or senior management (24%), their workload (27%), how interesting their work is (27%), the type of work they do (24%), and the overall culture at work (26%).

Are pay rises falling behind inflation?

Almost half of British workers (49%) say they did not receive a pay rise, or any increase in their income, in 2021. Even amongst those fortunate enough to have received a pay rise, two in five say it was less than the rate of inflation (40%), whilst 33% received a raise of about the same as inflation. Only 20% received a pay increase higher than inflation.

Men fared much better than women – 55% say they received a pay rise, compared to 39% of women.

Across the workforce, there is widespread pessimism about financial prospects in the coming months. Almost six in ten workers (57%) think it is unlikely they will receive a pay rise higher than inflation – which is estimated to peak at 6% in April – whilst only 31% believe they are likely to receive an inflation-busting pay rise.

Trinh Tu, Managing Director of Public Affairs at Ipsos UK, said: “A new year might make workers take a fresh look at their job, and our data suggests many are at least thinking about this – although they are more likely to consider leaving their job than asking for a pay rise or promotion at their current place of work.

“People who are dissatisfied with their job are, of course, particularly likely to consider leaving, with pay a key driver of this. But it should be noted that they are in the minority – most people are at least fairly happy at work, and for reasons that extend beyond pay, such as for the type of work they do, their work-life balance, their colleagues and job security.

“That doesn’t mean there is much hope among workers that their pay will outstrip the cost-of-living crisis. Only a minority are optimistic that they will get an inflation-busting pay rise this year, and even fewer report receiving one last year. This, combined with continued gender differences in pay rises and asking for promotions, suggests British employers shouldn’t take job satisfaction among their workers for granted.”