Three-quarters of Brits are actively looking for a new job

New research commissioned by Reed.co.uk, one of the UK’s leading jobs and careers sites, found that almost three quarters of respondents (71%) are either actively looking for a new job (41%) or are open to new opportunities (30%).

Canvassing 2,000 full or part-time employed workers, the research explores the reasons why people are resigning from their jobs post-lockdown, what employers can do to prevent a mass exodus, and what people are looking for in their next job. Some of the key findings are as follows:

  • Men (47%) are more likely than women (34%) to be actively looking for a job
  • Two-thirds (66%) of young workers, aged 18-34, are job hunting – more than any other age group
  • 61% of workers aged 55 and above say they are not looking for a job
  • London boasts the biggest proportion of active jobseekers (84%), followed by the North-East (77%) and Northern Ireland (76%)
  • Workers in the North-West and Wales are the most settled, with 39% and 38% of employed adults respectively declaring that they are not looking for a job

A sea change in the labour market

After almost 18 months of career uncertainty as a result of the pandemic, workers have entered the second half of 2021 with renewed optimism and confidence to take back control of their career choices. In May 2021, Reed.co.uk recorded its best month for job postings since the financial crash in 2008 and, on 28th July 2021, the number of job postings for 2021 surpassed the total number of job postings throughout the entirety of 2020.

The number of vacancies available in 2021 is in direct contrast with 2020 – when furlough and a lack of opportunities created a stagnant labour market. Reed.co.uk’s research has subsequently revealed that a third (33%) of employed adults have stayed in their job longer than planned because of the pandemic. Meanwhile, over a fifth (22%) have been actively looking for a new job in the last six months and over one in 10 (11%) since the start of the year.

As a result, the UK is believed to be on the cusp of ‘The Great Resignation’, with the prospect of mass resignations a constant threat to businesses.

Reed.co.uk’s research also highlights the impact changes to the labour market in 2021 are having on jobseeker behaviour, with a significant number (46%) sending off an increased number of speculative applications compared to before the pandemic. The survey found that a fifth (20%) of workers don’t enjoy their current job, and in addition, almost three in 10 (29%) say they are looking for a job simply to see what else is out there. This suggests that jobseekers are exploiting the opportunities raised by staff and skills shortages as opposed to settling for roles that are being actively recruited for and marketed heavily.

Jobseeker priorities

Employers attempting to attract new talent and retain restless employees may face an increasingly challenging labour market which currently favours candidates. Reed.co.uk’s research suggests that businesses will need to adapt their offering in accordance with new worker priorities shaped by the pandemic.

Salary is the most common (39%) motivation for jobseekers. Over half (53%) of respondents indicate that if their employer raised their salary, it may sway them to stay with the business. Labour shortages have already led to a rise in average salaries by 1% this year, with lower-paid roles (paying up to £25,000) experiencing the biggest wage inflation at 4%. While there will clearly be a cap on the extent of future wage inflation, there may not be a cap on workers’ expectations.

Following 18 months of remote or hybrid working for many workers, flexible hours have become the next biggest n (31%) motivating factor for workers to remain at their current employer. Almost a fifth (19%) say their employer is still not giving enough flexibility and that they want to work remotely more. This depends on age group however, with almost a third (32%) of 18-34 year olds complaining their businesses have too much flexibility, compared to just 3% of those aged 55 and above.

As well as a salary increase and flexible hours, survey respondents suggested other factors that their current employer could do to make them more likely to stay:

  • More perks and benefits would be a good enough incentive for almost three in 10 (29%)
  • More annual leave is mentioned by a quarter (25%) of respondents
  • Over a fifth (21%) say a promotion would make the difference
  • Almost a fifth (18%) cite increased training and development opportunities

Commenting on the research, Simon Wingate, Managing Director of Reed.co.uk, says: “We are in the midst of a sea change in the labour market, with it very much having shifted from a buyers’ to a sellers’ market due to the sheer – and record-breaking – number of job opportunities available.

“While there are the more obvious socio-economic reasons behind this situation – including the COVID-19 pandemic impacting career choices and Brexit affecting recruitment from abroad – our research reveals a growing level of empowerment amongst jobseekers that could shape the future of the UK labour market. After a challenging 18 months for jobseekers which gave rise to a culture of uncertainty in the labour market, workers are now mobilised by the prospect of new and exciting opportunities with better rewards.

“As for employers, they are now facing an uphill task to attract and retain top talent amid significant skills shortages across a multitude of sectors. Employers must find creative solutions and adapt to the new market conditions following the pandemic in order to maintain the resurgent economy’s trajectory.”

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