Is Uncertainty Around Brexit Stalling People Moving Jobs?

29/04/2016 10:49

As both the "in" and "out" campaigns gain momentum ahead of the EU referendum, many people are wondering how a Brexit would affect their day-to-day lives. While the 'facts' may still be up for debate and fuelling uncertainty, we're seeing the UK workforce become more concerned about job security and less likely to jump into a new role.

Our research found that the number of people planning to remain in their jobs is at its highest in five years, with four in 10 UK workers planning to stay in role for at least the next 12 months. This bucks recent trends we've seen in other markets, where job hopping is more prevalent in younger workers who are hungry for varied working experiences.

Active job-seeking has also declined, indicating that people are putting their job searching on hold. Over half of UK workers (52 percent) are instead taking a passive approach to job-hunting, waiting for the opportunities to arrive in their inboxes rather than proactively sending out CVs to recruiters or potential future employers.

Despite planning to stick with their employers, workers aren't necessarily happy. Dissatisfaction stems from a lack of future career opportunities, development and recognition. The main trigger isn't more money, a nicer boss or a better work-life balance, but a lack of new experiences that will help them develop - whether that be exposure to new skills, a different team or the chance to live abroad. That means job switchers today are people who can't see the opportunity to develop, so they leave to find something that will give them that chance to grow.

What else makes people leave? Our research showed that UK employees are particularly dissatisfied with meritocracy in the workplace. Just 23 percent of workers are happy with how their organisation rewards or promotes people based on the quality of their work.

This job dissatisfaction combined with people wanting to stay in their jobs is a potent combination, leaving the UK at risk of becoming a nation of inactive and uninspired workers. The inevitable consequence of this is lower productivity and poorer results delivered by people who are choosing to stay for stability rather than being engaged in their day-to-day work.

Brexit or not, employers need to measure workforce engagement to ensure effort and energy is aligned to and directed towards achieving the firm's goals. Armed with this insight, companies should engage employees in conversations about career development. Managers can use these discussions as an opportunity to learn about employee's personal aspirations and career goals, and take the time to talk about new skills that will help expand their capabilities and employability. Having honest conversations will help employees assess whether their company can deliver on those goals that matter most and give them a renewed sense of enthusiasm for their jobs.

During times of uncertainty, companies should avoid making promises about stability that they ultimately won't be able to keep. Empty promises can drive down employee commitment by as much as 17 percent. Instead they should set realistic expectations for stability and focus more on elements they can genuinely control.

Crucially, the way that employee contribution is recognised and rewarded should not be limited to bonuses and promotions, if companies want to maximise engagement and performance they need to offer employees new opportunities and experiences.

As the Brexit debate rolls on, one thing we can be sure of is people's appetite to experience new things, work with new people and be challenged in new, unexpected way will continue to drive career discussions.