22 million UK workers seek change

Two thirds of UK workers plan to make changes to their careers in the next 12 months, according to a new study published today by Aviva.

This is an increase of five percentage points, compared to the previous study compiled in February 2021, and indicates that 22 million workers* are seeking some sort of change.

The intended changes vary greatly, ranging from reducing hours, to moving roles within an organisation, to choosing a different career path completely.

The number of people planning to set up their own business has increased from 6% to 8% since July 2020 – now equivalent to around 2.7 million(2) workers – while the proportion planning to get a similar role in a different company has risen from 5% to 8% over the same period.

The proportion of workers planning to retrain or learn new skills now stands at 11%, although this figure increases to 15% among those aged 35-44, suggesting people are taking stock of their careers. A similar situation is true for those wishing to take a different career path: 9% of workers overall, but 14% of those aged 25-34.

Planned career change over the next 12 monthsPercentage of workers July 2020Percentage of workers February 2021Percentage of workers October 2021
I plan to find a role which will allow me to work from home10%10%10%
I plan to retrain / learn new skills9%10%11%
I plan to gain more academic qualifications8%8%9%
I plan to follow a completely different career path7%9%9%
I plan to find a role which helps others / makes a difference to those in need6%8%8%
I plan to set up my own business / work for myself6%7%8%
I plan to increase my working hours (e.g. part time to full time)6%7%8%
I plan to reduce my working hours (e.g. full time to part time)6%7%9%
I plan to move companies but stay in the same industry/role5%6%8%
I plan to find employment after losing my job4%4%4%
I plan to retire4%6%7%
I plan to find a new role but with the same organisation4%6%7%

Flexibility at work

The study also provides an insight into how the last two years have changed working patterns – and how colleagues feel about this situation.

Overall, employees believe the pandemic has had a positive effect regarding flexibility at work. Two thirds (66%) say recent events have helped companies to improve their approaches to flexible working.

There are certain aspects of employment that people now class as ‘deal-breakers’ when it comes to flexibility.

Flexibility benefit at workProportion of employees who would class as a ‘deal-breaker’ when seeking a role
Option to work varying / flexible hours each day across the week20%
Ability to work from home some of the time18%
Ability to work from home all of the time15%
Option to reduce to part time14%
Option to work longer hours over shorter number of days11%
Duvet days (leave at short notice)10%
Option to buy / sell extra holiday9%
Volunteering leave9%
Option to job-share7%

The option to vary daily hours across the week is the most common ‘deal-breaker’, with one in five workers classing this benefit as “essential” when looking for a role. This is closely followed by the ability to work from home some of the time (18%) – and even the option to work from home all of the time, the request of 15% of employees.

Other deal-breakers include the ability to reduce to part-time hours (14%) and being able to take leave to volunteer for worthy causes (9%).

As a general rule, people in the 25-34-year age bracket are most likely to view these benefits as essential to their role, although the request for childcare flexibility is common among the 25-44 age group (23%) and the desire to work from home some of the time is critical for one in five people aged 25-54.

However the need for a “duvet day” is most common amongst under-25s – a deal-breaker for 15% of people in this age group.

Nicki Charles, Retail MD, Customer, Aviva General Insurance says: “Although flexibility at work was growing in popularity before the pandemic, the Covid-19 outbreak has expedited progress. Benefits that were once seen as luxuries are now being viewed as essentials.

“While the pandemic has been devastating in so many ways, people are seeking out silver linings and a more progressive approach towards working is just one of these outcomes.

“After working at home for many months, some people will inevitably take time to adjust to the return to the workplace. But hybrid working enables the best of both worlds and doubtless is here to stay.”

Author: Editorial Team

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