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More money won’t solve everything, say UK workers

This is a modified section from Workable's comprehensive new survey report on the Great Discontent in 2023 in the United Kingdom. Visit here to see the report in full.

Keith MacKenzie
Keith MacKenzie

Passionate about human resources, employment, and business management, and an expert at sharing that expertise.

What are UK workers interested in right now when it comes to jobs? This time, we have data for you on the growing value of career paths and clarity on roles and responsibilities in a job.

What do UK workers want now?

Our Great Discontent 2.0 survey report contains a wealth of data revealing how employee priorities in the UK have changed since 2021. Learn more here.

View the report highlights

Top 3 takeaways

  1. Career advancement is surging as an area of interest for those open to new roles – up to 23.6% from 17.6%
  2. It’s not as big an area for improvement for current employees, dropping to 19.9% in 2023 from 31.3% in 2021
  3. Clarity is what’s needed in current roles, increasing from 17.7% in 2021 to 31.1% now

Money may be integral to the UK worker (and much more so now than previously) when making a decision to take on a new job, but it’s not the only thing. There’s another takeaway here we’d like to highlight: today’s workers have a growing appetite for advancement in their careers and acquiring new skills.

In short – growth is on their minds. And the percentage of workers saying that has grown in the two-year span between 2021 and 2023. For those actively looking for new opportunities, nearly one quarter (23.6%) say the reason is they want to move to the next level in their careers – up from 17.6%.

And when asked what would get them interested in a new opportunity (even if they’re not actively looking), the lure of a better job higher up on the ladder is a driving factor for 37.8% of respondents – up 7.5 points from 28.3% in 2021. That’s the single biggest jump out of all the attractors in the list.

So, why don’t employers just build clearer and more attractive career paths for their current employees? That might have worked in 2021, but not so much now. When asked what could be improved in their current role, 31.3% of workers in the UK pointed to advancement potential, and that’s dropped hugely to 19.9% in 2023.

The clearer the job, the better

So what could employers do instead? More than one in five workers (22.5%) say that clarity of job role and responsibilities is a big factor in choosing a new job in 2023, up from 16.8% in 2021.

And when looking at clearer job roles and responsibilities in their current job, 31.1% say this is an area ripe for improvement – up from 17.7% two years earlier.

So, it really isn’t only “show me the money”. These data points underscore that companies need to focus on being clearer about what they expect from their teams. This can be the magic that really glues a team together if they’re clear on their goals and their expected deliverables.

This means stronger leaders with organizational skills who can really pull a team together and get them collectively moving the needle.

What can you do?

1. Invest in stronger leaders

Workers are expressing a clear desire for crystallized work processes. Employers should invest in and train team leaders on their organizational and strategic skills.

This means being able to take OKRs from the top and package them into understandable and realistic to-do lists for each of their team members.

2. Emphasize growth opportunities

The potential for advancement is a key factor in attracting new talent.

During the hiring process, communicate the potential for growth in the role and within the organization to entice potential candidates.

3. Enhance training and development

Continuous learning and skills development are increasingly crucial for organizational success. Companies should enhance their training and development opportunities, offering tailored programs and resources for employees to upskill and reskill – and turn those into real actionables for their work.

This not only attracts new talent but also retains current employees by making them feel valued and invested in.

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