Lack of confidence in labour market has left workers feeling ‘trapped’, experts suggest

Excellent retention rates across the organisation don’t necessarily mean your staff are happy campers. Research by the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) has revealed that nearly half (47 per cent) of the UK’s workers would like to change their current career.

Worryingly, in this study of 1,000 professionals, around a quarter (23 per cent) said they regret choosing their current occupation.

So with so many unhappy workers, what’s stopping them from making the jump?

For 29 per cent of respondents, financial insecurity was the top reason for not risking a change, which Lee Biggins, founder and managing director, CV-Library, said wasn’t surprising.

“The majority of the UK workforce suffered through a period of great uncertainty around the job market and considered themselves lucky to have a job, let alone a job they loved. In September the ONS announced that employment rates had returned to record highs and our own data supports these findings,” he said. 

“But while the economic situation has improved, people’s attitudes toward career stability have not and it’s likely workers feel residual concern from the recession.

“It’s really unfortunate to see that a high proportion of the nation’s workforce is dissatisfied and it’s even more concerning that they don’t feel confident enough to switch jobs, especially when job levels are up,” Biggins added.

Dr Steve Priddy, director of research and academic dean at LSBF, said there’s a definite disconnect between what we’ve been told about the current economy, and what individuals are feeling and experiencing in the labour market.

“If we listen to what’s being said about the economy, everything’s going really well, the economy is growing, pay rises are coming through, but you contrast that with what’s come through in our survey and you get a very different message,” he said.

Money woes aren’t the only factor holding potential changers back. Other rationales include people not knowing what they want to change their career to (20 per cent) and the fear of failure (15 per cent). 

Knowing you want to jump ship without knowing where you want to land is not as uncommon as you might think, Lisa LaRue, career coach at CareerWorx said.

“Career uncertainty can be very unsettling and can affect all parts of our lives. What seems to be an easy choice for some can be a very complex one for others,” she said.

“It’s important that personal values, interests and aptitudes are taken into account when making career decision along with consideration of individual circumstances, opportunities and potential threats.”

As far as what motivates people to think about switching, nearly four in ten (39 per cent) said increased salary prospects, 35 per cent said better work-life balance and 34 per cent said improved job satisfaction.

Priddy continued: “There’s some traditional, sensible measures we can take as HR managers for engaging with staff and understanding it’s not just salary that drives people.

“And it seems we all know these simple straight forward things which can be done for engagement, encouraging innovation and so on, but clearly we’re not getting them right.”