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How Are People Feeling About Work And The Job Market In 2023?

In our latest research, the Beamery Talent Index Seventh Edition, we asked over 6,000 workers (in the US, UK and Nordics) how they feel about their current roles, employers, and the job market. Despite the uncertain economy, many of the workers we asked were generally (or very) happy in their current roles and were optimistic about the future of their company and opportunities to develop new skills.

However, as you will see, that doesn’t mean employers can become complacent. 37% of people we surveyed are worried about being laid off from their place of work, 51% are planning to quit within a year (despite the uncertain economy), and 25% said they felt in some ways discriminated against in their current organization.

So what is going on? And how can companies come out of this recession on top?

Employees are generally happy at work, but fear layoffs

64% of the people we asked said they were happy in their current job – with 44% saying they were ‘quite happy’ and 20% saying they were ‘extremely happy’.

And only a small percentage said they were ‘quite unhappy’ or ‘extremely unhappy’ (7% and 2% respectively) in their current role.

With so many employees saying they are happy in their current roles, employers must be doing something right. But these same employers must be cautious, because 37% of people we spoke to said they are worried about being laid off or made redundant by their employer.

For the employees who fear layoffs – the fear is negatively affecting their work. 21% of those who worry they will be made redundant shared that they are now more paranoid about meetings they aren’t invited to, and 20% say they are quieter at work. Productivity and motivation are taking a hit as well, with 18% saying they are less eager to be productive and 23% saying their motivation has decreased and the quality of their work has suffered.

And, unsurprisingly, 28% of those who fear layoffs said that this fear has made them more likely to look for a new job (presumably one with more stability).

Workers are still considering resigning

What’s interesting, though, is that despite the fear of layoffs and redundancies, many employees said they are still considering leaving their current company anyway.

51% of the people we asked said that they are considering leaving their jobs in the next 12 months. 31% said they were confident they could secure a new job within three months, and another 41% said they could receive a new position within six months.

But since so many people said they were generally happy in their roles, what is missing? There must be something that they don’t currently have, causing them to consider making a move during such an uncertain economy.

According to our Talent Index data, there are a few common themes that can contribute to attrition. And while many of the employees who are considering quitting may not take the leap to do so in this economy, they certainly won’t be as engaged or motivated if employers don’t begin to listen to their employees’ needs and make the necessary changes to re-engage their talent.

People want higher pay

One reason why employees might be considering leaving their current role is because they are confident that they can make more money elsewhere. People are feeling the pinch of inflation and the ongoing cost of living crisis, and a bigger paycheck, would certainly help those who are struggling.

In fact, 29% of those we surveyed cited higher pay as their reason for considering changing employers within the next 12 months.

This is a complicated problem because, while some employers are offering bonuses and pay increases to support their employees during a tough economy, the majority of employers don’t have the budget to provide those increases at the moment, which could potentially drive talent away.

Of course, there are cost-effective ways to keep talent engaged that can go a long way when the budget is tight. Lower cost solutions like transparency from leadership, offering new learning and development opportunities, improved benefits, and better technology can all go a long way in keeping talent engaged.

There’s a lack of flexibility

In this edition of the Talent Index, we are seeing more and more people saying that their employers are requiring (or strongly suggesting) that employees spend more time in the office.

When asked about return to office (RTO) mandates, 42% of workers said they are required to work in the office full time already, and another 32% are required to work in the office on specified days or for a certain number of days per week.

Productivity seems to be the driver of these decisions. While a highly debated idea, many employers maintain the stance that employees are more productive in the office. 36% of our survey respondents said they felt more pressure to be in the office more days each week.

The push to remote and hybrid work caused by the COVID-19 pandemic empowered employees to seek a better work-life balance and, for many, working from home provides that. So if employers are taking that benefit away, it’s reasonable to think that some of their workforce might want to leave. Could more flexibility actually be the key to engaging staff who have lost motivation?

Employees desire more learning and development opportunities

When asked if they were interested in learning new skills in their current workplace, 61% said yes – with 27% of them saying they are already starting to learn new skills, or are waiting for the training to start.

Today’s talent wants to learn new skills. It’s crucial that employers prioritize training, learning and development programs, and make them accessible to all employees. If your team members aren’t being given those opportunities, they may begin to look elsewhere.

Whether or not employees will actually leave their jobs during this economy is uncertain, but what we do know is that half of your talent is at least considering it and, as an employer, it’s crucial that you do not take that lightly. Now is the time for business leaders to consider what they can do to keep their employees engaged for the long run.

Equity and inclusivity are paramount

The importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) has become widely recognized by employers. But, unfortunately, it seems as though many employers are simply not doing enough. In our Talent Index research, we asked workers if they felt at all discriminated against by their employer, and (shockingly) 25% said ‘yes’.

Of that 25%, the largest portion felt discriminated against due to their age (27%). Another 26% felt discriminated against because of their race, and 22% felt discriminated against because of their gender.

The bottom line here is that employers need to do a better job of making their employee experiences more equitable. An inclusive culture starts by making opportunities open to everyone. A good first step in the right direction is to shift your talent management strategy to one that is skills-first – prioritizing skills over experience, education, or other characteristics.

Considering all of these factors, one thing has become clear – people want transparency from their employers. They desire transparency about the salaries and benefits they can expect, the learning and development opportunities available, and the outlook for the business they work for.

Every organization needs talent resilience: the ability to hold on to, upskill, and redeploy in an agile way. Additionally, showing your top talent where they might go and grow – without having to leave – provides hesitant employees with a reason to stay.

Learn how Beamery can help you unlock efficiencies at every stage of the talent lifecycle and can set your company up for success – even during an economic downturn.