The pandemic. Hybrid working. The Great Resignation. Quiet quitting. Over the last few years we have seen seismic changes in the labour market. For the first time in a long time, it’s employees and jobseekers who have been in control, able to choose roles that work for them, and prepared to walk away if they don’t get the career opportunities and personal satisfaction they seek.
In June to August 2022, the total number of job vacancies in the UK was 470,000 (59.1%) above the January to March 2020 pre-pandemic level. The last few releases from the ONS have shown a fall, potentially as recruitment budgets look set to tighten with the looming recession, but vacancies remain high.
The unemployment rate stood at 3.7% in December 2022 having averaged 6.8% between 1971 and 2021. (ONS, Labour market overview, UK: December 2022). We’re in a situation where there are lots of jobs available, and not enough people to take them. So in some sectors it’s candidates who hold the power, whilst in other sectors such as health and social care there has been a huge surge in vacancies, partly caused by an exodus of foreign workers post Brexit.
According to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index, 41% of people said they would consider leaving their jobs within the next year, while in May 2022 PwC reported one in five were planning a move. Whether it’s a reevaluation of priorities post pandemic, shifts in working practices, or technological advances, candidates in many professional sectors have been a lot more choosy about their careers.
But with a potential recession on the horizon and a cost of living crisis that is seeing record inflation and increased costs hitting the pockets of everyone in the country, are employees and candidates feeling so confident?
Our latest survey of over a thousand UK workers suggests not. The data and insight in this report shows that things have changed. Instead it points to a pool of employees who are worried about the short-term impacts of the recession and it’s making them fearful of taking steps to progress their career in case it ‘rocks the boat’ and destabilises security.