The ‘Hidden Heroes’ sector of the UK economy, a newly-coined labour workforce, is motivated by employee benefits rather than take-home pay alone. The research findings were uncovered in a new report by Gumtree Jobs, and revealed factors including flexibility, leniency in terms of start times/breaks, and frequency of pay were key motivators for this workforce.
No longer limited to traditional ‘blue collar worker’ stereotypes, the Hidden Heroes workforce spans flexible and full-time workers earning on average £16,403 per annum and those looking for work, across key sectors including construction, hospitality and catering, sales and retail, driving and logistics as well as healthcare, teaching and IT.
Although this typically overlooked workforce is making under the average UK salary for those in full-time work*, these Hidden Heroes are not necessarily motivated by money, and put a higher value on other aspects of working life. Almost half (45%) of those surveyed were happier in jobs where they were given learning and development opportunities. Nearly four in ten (36%) of those surveyed say they want more flexibility with their working hours, with over a quarter (26%) saying their working hours already aren’t the typical 9-5.
Surprisingly, despite almost half (47%) of the nation’s Hidden Heroes claiming they value benefits alongside a pay rise, over a third (35%) are unsure or worried about being able to pay the bills, and almost three quarters (72%) would not be able to afford to pay a large unexpected bill. Overall, more than half (54%) of workers surveyed feel underpaid. Gender pay disparity is evident in Hidden Heroes, too; almost twice as many women (46%) earn less than £15k compared to their male counterparts (26%).
Millennials are the most likely to feel overqualified; almost half (45%) of 25-34 year olds think their talents were being wasted in their current role. Half (49%) of hospitality and catering workers feel overqualified, the highest proportion of each industry. The happiest industry is sports, fitness and leisure, as more than four in five (85%) look forward to going to work every day. On the other hand, less than two thirds (61%) of those working in customer services enjoy going to work.
Older people generally are happier at work than their younger counterparts. Over half (54%) of people aged 65 and above were content with their working life, suggesting that businesses need to refresh their policies if they want to also address the needs of younger workers. By contrast, only one in ten (11%) millennials (25-34) surveyed were completely happy with their job, and almost six in ten (58%) of them wanted to be paid more as they felt they weren’t being compensated enough.
Take home pay
The report revealed the average annual salary of the Hidden Heroes workforce is £16,403 – well under the national average of £30k per annum. Males also continued to outperform females in salary (£18,336 v £14,927) within this workforce. Surprisingly older workers (65+) earnt nearly £3,000 more than their Gen Z counterparts (£16,046 v £13,339), reflective of their desire to stay in the workforce and overall job satisfaction.
Claire Howard-Jones, Chief Marketing Officer at Gumtree UK, said: “This research has highlighted that each generation of Hidden Heroes has different priorities when it comes to what they want to get out of work – employers should take note and tailor their approach based on who they want to recruit.
“Every day Gumtree Jobs has thousands of roles available, suitable for the UK’s Hidden Heroes. With over a third (37%) of people regularly looking for new jobs, the second most-popular way of finding new job opportunities is via online job boards, meaning employers who find the best way to target Hidden Heroes will ensure they get the right people on board. With a quarter (27%) of people saying local jobs are the most important thing to them when looking for a new role, Gumtree is the ideal platform to find jobs in your local area.”
Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said of the report: “The UK labour market is booming with more people now in work than ever before, youth unemployment falling by half since 2010 and record levels of female employment. Behind these figures are millions of UK workers, employed across a huge range of sectors, who are creating a better future for their families and the UK – boosting their local economies and supporting local communities.
“We in Government are committed to helping these working heroes through increased learning and development opportunities, as well as improving diversity and inclusivity and reducing gender disparity in the workplace. Gumtree’s Hidden Heroes report reflects how skills and training are vital to sustain our thriving employment rate and is a signal to all those unsung workers that their contribution is recognised and celebrated.”
Gumtree Jobs reaches one million job seekers every month with a diverse and interesting array of roles, many of which can be found in the local area, making Gumtree the ultimate destination for job-hunting.
Download the ‘Hidden Heroes: Discovering the unsung workforce driving the UK economy’ report here to find out more about the invisible workforce powering the UK: gumtreeforbusiness.co.uk/jobs/hiddenheroes/.