One in five employees expect to change jobs this year

By Daniel Thomas
Business reporter, BBC News

Woman using laptopImage source, Getty Images

Almost one in five UK workers say they are likely to change jobs in the next 12 months as they seek better pay and job satisfaction, a survey suggests.

Accounting giant PwC said workers were starting to "assert their power" at a time when many bosses are struggling to recruit.

It found younger and highly skilled workers were most likely to be unhappy in their jobs or seeking a raise.

Some 60% also said they would prefer to work fully or mostly from home.

"The economic outlook may be uncertain but highly skilled workers are in hot demand and employers can't be complacent," said PwC boss Kevin Ellis.

"Employees will vote with their feet if their expectations on company culture, reward, flexibility and learning are not being largely met."

Many workers changed jobs or left the workforce during the pandemic in what economists dubbed the "Great Resignation", and PwC said the trend showed no sign of slowing.

Between January and March there were more job vacancies than unemployed people in the UK for the first time since records began, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The number moving from job-to-job also hit a record high "driven by resignations rather than dismissals", while regular wages (excluding bonuses) rose by 4.2%, though not as fast as the cost of living.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Some 59% of workers said they would prefer to work fully or mostly from home in the next 12 months

In March PwC surveyed more than 2,000 UK workers from a range of industries and found that:

  • 18% said they were "very or extremely likely" to switch to a new employer within the next 12 months
  • some 32% also said they were moderately or slightly likely to switch and 16% were planning to leave the workforce temporarily or permanently
  • an increase in pay was the main motivator for changing jobs (72%), followed by wanting a more fulfilling job (68%) and to "truly be themselves at work" (63%)

Overall, Gen Z (those aged 24 and under) and Millennial workers (25 to 40-year-olds) were most likely to be seeking new jobs, raises or promotions, PwC said. Those in management positions were found to be more content with their current jobs than those in non-management roles.

PwC also found demand for better pay was highest in sectors such as technology and lowest in the public sector.

Image source, Lara Bywater
Image caption,
Lara Bywater says care homes are seeing competition for staff from the hospitality industry

Lara Bywater runs LDC Care Company, a group of care homes for people with learning disabilities in Kent. She said recruitment was always tough but had got harder after the pandemic.

"We have an amazing workforce but they are working extra hours and they are tired. We are recruiting in small numbers but more staff are leaving us," she told the BBC.

She blamed generally low pay rates in the care sector due to underfunding, and the loss of foreign workers due to Brexit.

She added: "Many people felt burnt out by Covid and now want a different work life balance or have left the workforce. We're also seeing huge competition from industries like hospitality who have pushed up pay rates to attract workers."

Martin McTague, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, told the BBC: "The 'great resignation' has piled on more pressure in a labour market already beset by chronic skills shortages.

"On top of supply chain disruption, surging operating costs, and consumers cutting back, this is really hampering expansion plans."

Preference for hybrid working

Being able to work from home is also a priority for workers, PwC found, although a majority want to mix it with at least some time in the office.

According to latest ONS figures, around one in seven working adults in the UK (14%) said they were purely doing their jobs from home offices in late April and early May.

Another 24% said they had adopted "hybrid" working patterns where they are in an office or other workplace part of the time.

Just 17% said they would prefer to be working full-time or mostly in the office.

Sarah Moore, people and organisation leader at PwC, said: "Temporary solutions to business problems, such as hybrid working, have turned into employee preferences and expectations."