Released today, research conducted by Opinium* on behalf of one of the UK’s leading brand experience agencies, The Park (www.thepark.london) has uncovered how the modern workforce view todays working environment including the fact that 46% of the nationally representative sample claim that they want to leave their jobs in the next six months. This would have a massive impact on the UK economy due to the high cost associated with replacing an employee, recently estimated by the Society for HR to be approximately £15,000.
There are ten main take outs from the research detailed below.
- Retention provides a stark and urgent challenge for companies
As mentioned above, an incredible 46% of people want to leave their jobs in the next six months. There is an age correlation with 25-34s highest at 57%, and a geographical split with 67% of Londoners open to moving jobs.
72% of people who would choose a different working location setup to their current situation are looking to leave. People who would like to be mainly in the office are most likely to be trying to leave- an amazing 87%.
Half of people hired during the pandemic are looking to leave in the next six months. Further, running a business at the current time seems to be taking its toll as 71% of Owners/Founders and 75% of CEOs want to leave in the next six months.
When asking people what the most important factors would be when choosing their next job, the groups most likely to be looking to leave over-index on “being valued”, “being listened to” and “company purpose”.
- People don’t think their company cares about them as much as consumers
Just 12% of people think their company cares more about its employees than its customers/clients. 45% think it cares more about customers.
There is an age correlation with just 6% of over 55s saying their company cares more about them than their customers vs 17% of 18-24s.
This also appears to be an area where CEOs are out of touch with their employees- 43% of CEOs think their company cares about its employees more than customers vs just 5% of those in clerical or non-management roles.
- Companies need to walk the walk when it comes to their values and external claims
Just 19% of people say their company is completely true to its values and an even lower 16% say their company is completely true to what it says about itself externally.
Companies of >2,500 employees score worst. Just 11% of employees at these large companies think their company is completely true to what it says about itself externally, and 13% say they’re completely true to their values.
Not surprisingly, the job roles most likely to rate their company highly are CEOs and Owner/Founders, suggesting they might need something of a reality check.
The sector that scores best is Food & Drink, and worst is Marketing/Advertising/PR. The latter being, arguably and ironically, the sector most vocal about their values and external claims.
- Away days can work a lot better for companies by being less “top-down”
There are significantly fewer people that enjoy away days than say they’re important.
80% of people think being together in person is an important part of company culture, including 75% of people that work fully remotely. 66% of people think team/ company away days play an important role in that, but just 41% currently enjoy them.
People are not looking for “top-down” away days. Alignment (8%), company strategy/goals (16%), and company values (17%) all score towards the bottom, whereas the top answers are dominated by fun (40%), team bonding (39%), a chance to speak to colleagues (34%) and an escape from everyday work/stress (34%).
A sign of how times have changed in that just 9% look for alcohol at an away day (the thirstiest region is the North East with 15% looking for alcohol at their away days, and the thirstiest sector, possibly unsurprisingly, is media at 21%).
- Company culture – people need more of a sense of ownership
Just 25% of women feel they’re able to influence company culture versus 42% of men. Meanwhile just 1 in 4 of Over 55s feel able to affect company culture.
People that want to be in the office are significantly more likely to say they can affect company culture versus those that want to be at home.
5/6 years in the company seems to be the sweetspot as they are significantly more likely to report being able to affect company culture.
There is a significant effect from seniority- 70% of CEOs vs 15% of clerical/no management responsibility workers feel they can affect company culture. Food and drink again performs well with a sector topping 69%.
- The data suggests that in many ways, CEOs are out of touch with their employees
43% of CEOs think their company cares about its employees more than customers vs just 5% of those in clerical or non-management roles.
70% of CEOs feel employees can affect company culture vs just 15% of those in non- management roles.
Worryingly for flexible working, 51% of CEOs (and 50% of owners/founders) think people in the office are treated more favourably. Further, over 70% of people earning £90k+ a year believe this vs less than 30% of those earning less than £90k.
When it comes to rating their employer on staying true to values and external promises, unsurprisingly, the job roles most likely to rate their company highly are CEOs and Owner/Founders.
- There is a continuously changing role of the office, but physical spaces haven’t caught up
81% of people believe digital collaboration tools (such as Slack) have changed the role of the office, with 57% saying they’ve reduced the need to use the office as frequently, and 26% believing they have totally replaced the role of an office (rising to 35% of 25-34 year olds).
It’s clear there is still work to do on office spaces with 49% of people saying their office is “boring”, 41% saying it’s “unlively”, and just 68% saying it’s “inviting” vs 32% “repelling”.
When asking people about their home environment there is an age correlation to how appealing the home environment is for working. 73% of 18-24s vs 93% of over 45s say their home working environment is appealing, potentially reflecting the living situation. The same correlation is evident for whether it’s a “happy” environment- 67% vs 92%.
While home environments are seen as more stimulating than work environments (66% of people think their home environment is stimulating vs 51% for the office environment), again there is an age correlation with fewer 18-24s (56%) than Over 45s (79%) reporting their home working environment to be stimulating.
Interestingly, when asking people what they would most like to change about their office working environment, the least popular change would be for all desks to be open plan.
- People are not feeling supported or valued enough at work
41% of people rarely, or only sometimes, feel supported at work.
There is a slight correlation between time in the office and comprehension of values, purpose, and sense of support. There is a strong correlation with feeling connected to co-workers however- 72% of those that fully work in the office feel connected always or very often vs 43% of those fully remote.
Incredibly, 4 in 10 don’t have a line manager including half of all male respondents. Concerningly, for 18–24-year-olds this goes up to the majority- 6 in 10 don’t have a line manager.
A focus on workplace benefits over other more emotional and intangible benefits might be a mistake as workplace benefits rank lower than “being valued”, “feeling recognised”, “being listened to”, and “opportunity to learn and develop” in ratings of what matters to employees in
their current job.
Further, when looking at the groups most likely to want to leave, they over index in wanting to feel listened to, valued, and clear on the company purpose.
- A worrying trend of work’s negative effect on employees’ mental health
38% of people say work affects their mental health negatively. Of those that say work affects their mental health, 41% say it has a strong effect (a quarter of total respondents).
Only 30% think their company is doing enough to help employees with their mental health/wellbeing but 76% think their workplace should be playing a role in this. Just 1 in 3 respondents have access to a mental health first aider at work.
There is a gender issue at play with over half of men saying they don’t know who to turn to if suffering with their mental health vs 1 in 3 women. Further, 56% of men don’t think their workplace is doing enough vs 40% of women.
The age group that scores highest against not knowing where to turn is 25-34s (52%). 25-34s are the group that say work affects their mental health in a negative way the most, and the group that are most likely to be looking to leave their job in the next six months.
Of those that would like to be in the office all the time, 83% don’t know where to turn for help with their mental health. Is the desire get the support and connection that can help mental health a possible driver for wanting to be in the office more? driver for wanting to be in the office more?
- Media talk of remote workers not being trusted by employers might be overstated
People feel trusted to do their jobs at home and in the office- 85% feel trusted in the office and 80% at home. There is an age correlation however with just 28% of 18-24s feeling completely trusted when working from home vs 44% of those 55+. There’s no difference in the sense of trust based on people’s working situation- hybrid vs full office vs full remote.
However, trust could be a barrier to people working from home more- the lowest score for feeling trusted to work from home was from people who would like to work from home more than they currently do.
A potential cause for this can be seen in the fact 51% of CEOs (and 50% of owners/ founders) think people in the office are treated more favourably. Further, over 70% of people earning £90k+ a year believe this vs less than 30% of those earning less than £90k.
Commenting on the research, Will Worsdell, The Park’s Global Strategy Director commented, “Our research has identified a range of issues that companies need to focus on. The urgency of this is demonstrated by the extreme numbers of people looking to leave”.
*The research was conducted by Opinium in October 2022 and surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,000 people, in traditionally office-based roles, working either in offices or at home.
For more information on the research or to arrange a meeting to discuss it in more detail please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.