Turbulent Year Ahead as Employers Strive to Retain Staff

In the last three months, nearly half of British workers have been restless and thought about leaving their current employer.

New research by Ipsos reveals that 47% have either looked for another job, thought about quitting their job, applied for another job or spoken to their employer about resigning.

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

Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,340 British adults in work aged 18-75. Interviews were conducted online between 21-22 January 2022. Data is weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.

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.

For those who are happy with their job, salary, while important, is not the main cause of job satisfaction, the Ipsos research found. 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 per cent say salary was a factor in job fulfilment.

However, among those who are dissatisfied with their current job, more than half (55%) cite pay as the main reason. 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%).

Almost half of British workers (49%) say they did not receive a pay rise, or any increase in their income, in 2021. Even among those fortunate enough to have received a pay rise, two in five say it was less than the rate of inflation (40%), while 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, Ipsos said. Almost six in 10 workers (57%) think it is unlikely they will receive a pay rise higher than inflation – which is estimated to peak at 6% in April – while only 31% believe they are likely to receive an inflation-busting pay rise.