Insight article

People may soon be leaving their jobs in droves. What can be done?

The accreditation body Investors in People recently released their annual employee sentiment poll, and the results should be at least a little alarming for all UK employers. The number of workers who are actively seeking a new job at the moment has risen by 10 percent over last year.

You’d be right to attribute some of this increase to a greater sense of confidence in the labour market. People who were unhappily stuck in their jobs because they felt they couldn’t find a new one are now feeling increasingly able to move on. And this is good for employers and employees alike, since neither side benefits when employees’ hearts and minds aren’t in it.

But that only partly explains it. While 10 percent more—now almost a quarter of all employees—actively seeking a new job, and 34 percent (up 5 percent from last year) “considering” a new job, the proportion of employees who feel the job market has improved from 2014 has risen only by 6 percent. In other words, the number of people looking for a new job has risen faster than the number of people who feel confident in their ability to find one.

This is most true in professional services and telecoms, and particularly true of workers in London.

Why is this happening?

Not surprisingly, one of the major drivers of dissatisfaction in work is pay. But there’s one even greater reason employees are looking for new gigs: the quality of management. Almost half, 46 percent, of those unhappy in their job cite poor management as a key reason, while only 44 percent cite low pay. And a similarly large number of people, 38 percent, complain they don’t feel valued as a member of staff.


Investors in People are calling this a “job exodus time bomb”, and they’re right.

Clearly, companies can do better. And unless they want to suffer the cost and turmoil of massive staff turnover, they will need to. And there’s an strong connection between feeling valued as a member of staff and feeling positive about the quality of management. As psychologist Dan Pink has argued, and as these statistics confirm, three key drivers of satisfaction of work are autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Good-quality leadership will allow all these to flourish within the organisation.

Leaders must give their people a sense of where the organisation is going, what it’s accomplishing, and how individuals play a crucial role. That way they will come to feel they are heroes of the journey, rather than passive victims of it.

Nailia Tasseel