Workers plan to quit their jobs this year. Employers need to deliver change, and fast

'Don't get complacent' about the Great Resignation, employers are warned, as workers search for greater flexibility and fulfilment.
Written by Owen Hughes, Senior Editor
young male employee starting thoughtfully out of an quiet office window next to a desk
Image: Morsa Images/Getty

Nearly one in five UK workers plans to quit their job in the next 12 months in pursuit of better pay, more fulfilment and greater flexibility in how they work, according to new data from consultant PwC.

The survey of more than 2,000 UK workers by PwC found that 18% are 'likely' or 'extremely likely' to change jobs within the next 12 months, while a third (32%) are 'moderately' or 'sightly likely' to switch.

The professional services firm warned that growing polarization between what employees want versus what their bosses are willing to offer means that more workers are willing to "assert their power" and "vote with their feet" if their expectations are not met.

Younger workers feel particularly dissatisfied with their current employer and are most likely to be eyeing up a move during the next 12 months.

SEE: Burnout, broken hiring and employees in a rut: No wonder workers are looking to quit

Kevin Ellis, chairman and senior partner at PwC UK, said employees had new expectations of work and warned employers not to get "complacent" as demand for highly skilled professionals grows.

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

PwC found that 27% of UK workers are planning to ask for a raise in the next 12 months, with employees in the tech sector the most likely to be seeking a raise.

While an increase in pay is the main motivator for making a job change (72%), employees also seek a more fulfilling job (68%) and want to be able to choose where they work (46%).

Demand for remote and hybrid working remains high and more than half (52%) of UK workers say their work can be done from home, PwC found. Two-thirds (66%) of respondents are currently working remotely either most or all of the time, with 62% citing hybrid working as their preferred way of working in the future.

Employee expectations have undergone significant upheaval during the past two years, largely driven by the realization that remote working is both possible and preferable for many white-collar workers.

While some companies have embraced remote and hybrid working, others have requested employees return to their office desks as pandemic restrictions come to an end.

SEE: Return to the office: Workers are worried and here's why

But PwC said its survey "paints a picture of a workforce polarized on a number of dimensions," with those in positions of seniority scoring vastly greater job satisfaction scores than those below them: 51% of respondents in leadership positions reported being "very satisfied", compared to 19% of those in non-management roles.

Workers with specialized skills are also more likely to have a higher sense of job satisfaction, with PwC citing this as "one of the biggest drivers of polarization". Workers with in-demand skills are more likely to be better paid, have more influence in their work and have greater flexibility in how and where they perform their roles.

Sarah Moore, people and organisation leader and head of purpose at PwC UK, said the expectations of workers and their bosses were "no longer aligned" and that catering to shifting expectations of work would prove critical to both attracting new talent and keeping current employees engaged.

"While polarisation between groups at work is not new, the scale we are now seeing and the consequence of mass resignations is," Moore added. "This polarisation being felt on the ground risks fueling dissatisfaction, disengagement and amplifying employee churn." 

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