UK businesses are sleepwalking into a costly large-scale employee exodus if the results of two separate pieces of research are to be believed.
According to a survey of 1,000 office workers by software company Beamery, almost half (48%) of all UK employees are either leaving their job or hoping to do so this year.
Its findings were echoed by research for HR software solution Personio, which polled 500 HR decision makers and 2,002 workers across the UK and Ireland and found 38% of employees wanted to change jobs in the next six to 12 months.
The cost to businesses, according to Personio, could be as high as £16.9 billion, with SMEs alone facing estimated costs of up to £5.8 billion.
Drivers of dissatisfaction
According to the Beamery Talent Index, it was bad leadership, poor employee support and stagnant growth opportunities during the pandemic that had led to the potential enormous employee churn facing workplaces.
Of those wanting to move on from their employer, 63% said this was due to poor leadership and a lack of support during the pandemic.
More specifically, it was perceived ‘career regression’ that was an issue for employees. More than half (53%) said working from home had had a significantly negative impact on their development and progression at work.
Nearly four in 10 (39%) felt their skills had grown stale and that they were going backwards from a career perspective, with 48% reporting their employer had not offered any opportunities to learn new skills during the pandemic.
Many felt the issue was going largely unnoticed, with 82% saying their employer needed to address career progression better.
One in 10 said they only had the opportunity to discuss promotion and progression once a year, while 43% said a lack of 1:1 engagement with managers had affected their progression opportunities.
“Now more than ever, if you want to ensure you attract and retain the best talent in your industry, employee communication is key,” said Abakar Saidov, Co-founder and CEO at Beamery.
“Workers want a clear, objective way of understanding the skills they need to learn to progress in their career, and employers must provide the right training and mentorship opportunities to help them improve.”
While the Personio research also reported that lack of career progression was a key driver for employees to look elsewhere, it found there was a “worrying disconnect” between workers and their employers on this point.
While 29% of those looking to move on put progression as a big factor in them wanting to leave, of the HR decision makers polled, only 17% thought this was a significant reason for employees to move on. Similarly, almost twice as many employees as HR decision makers said a toxic workplace culture was a significant factor (21% employees vs. 12% HR decision makers).
Employees and employers also did not seem to be on the same page when it came to how workers had been supported during the crisis.
HR decision makers were twice as likely as employees to rate their career development support as ‘good’ (64% versus 30%), and they were also out of synch when it came to thinking the work-life balance (70% HR vs. 53% employees) and mental/physical wellbeing (68% vs. 44%) support they provided was good.
Hanno Renner, Co-founder and CEO of Personio, said: “Falling out of touch with the workforce’s problems and priorities means that not only could people be more frustrated and ready to resign, but employers will be poorly prepared to prevent people leaving – resulting in lost talent and productivity, and damaged employer brand.”
Worryingly, the Personio research suggested employers weren’t doing enough to prevent lost talent. While nearly half (45%) said they were concerned staff would leave once the job market improved, only a quarter (26%) said talent retention was a priority for the next 12 months.
Young most unhappy
The Personio research found that those in the 18-34 year-old demographic were most likely to be looking for new opportunities, with 55% wanting to leave their job in the next six to 12 months.
The Beamery research had similar findings, with dissatisfaction about working from home seeming to be a key issue for younger workers.
Of those 18-34 year-olds surveyed for its report, 48% reported feeling isolated or undervalued by working from home, while 74% said it had hindered their personal development and progression at work.
Only 13% enjoyed working from home, with a large majority (84%) stating they wanted to return to the office.
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