Almost one in five (17%) UK workers are actively looking for a new job, with 66 percent of those younger than 40 saying they would also leave their jobs, if a work colleague left.

The great resignation started as a US phenomenon, however job vacancies in the UK are at an all-time high and employers are facing the tightest labour market in at least 50 years. As a result, the employee experience is coming under increased scrutiny as workers continue to re-evaluate their priorities and their relationships with their jobs.

According to new research from Benefax, which created the employee experience platform OneHub found that more than half (53%) of workers are open to new opportunities. While, just 3 in 10 are committed enough to their current employer to stay put for at least the next 12 months.

UK workers also admitted to experiencing turnover contagion – when the departure of a colleague influences an employee’s decision to also leave the organisation – with six in 10 saying a co-worker leaving would make them think about leaving too.

Commenting on the findings, Matt Macri-Waller, Benefex founder and CEO said: “The pandemic has forever changed our priorities and our relationships with work, and the landscape for employee experience is shifting. With job vacancies and staff attrition at record highs, it’s never been more important for all organisations to re-examine how they engage with employees and how they deliver their employee experiences.”

Workers leaving but not job searching

In spite of the record number of US workers quitting their jobs en masse, in the survey of 4000 workers in the UK, US, Singapore and India, just 13 percent of US employees admitted they were actively job searching. Workers from India (31%) were the most likely to jump ship while Singapore workers presented similar commitment levels to their UK counterparts (16%).

Of the four countries surveyed, US workers were also the most faithful to their firms with almost half (45%) claiming they were unlikely to leave in the next 12 months. Attrition was most likely among workers in Singapore and India with just one in five happy to remain in their current roles.

The survey found variations with age with workers over 40 demonstrating higher levels of job satisfaction and just 1 in 10 actively job searching compared to one in five of the under 40s. Similarly, half of the over 40s were happy to remain in their jobs versus 25 percent of the under 40s age group.  

Millenials and Gen Z more likely to leave

Turnover contagion was also felt less acutely among the over 40s with 47 percent said they would reconsider staying with their firm following a colleague’s departure. The figure rose to 66 percent for the under 40s.

The permanent shift in work culture brought about by the pandemic has also led to heightened expectations by UK workers of their employers. 70 percent say expectations have increased since the coronavirus, and three quarters said their employee experience at work is more important than a year ago.

Around half admitted to having higher expectations of their employer when it comes to wellbeing, provision of high-quality online tools, and greater acceptance about where and how they work. Employee expectations concerning benefits packages and receiving recognition for the work they do, was also more important for around four in ten UK workers.

Employee experience at the heart of exodus

With high levels of resignations set to continue throughout 2022, worryingly just one in four workers rated their employee experience as excellent and only a third (36%) felt well looked after by their companies during the pandemic.

When asked what would improve the employee experience, the majority of UK workers opted for items that corresponded with the increased expectations they now had of their employer. A tailored benefits package (87%), being supported irrespective of where they work (86%), and recognition for their contribution (84%), were the three most important factors in improving their experience.

Macri-Waller concluded: “The research has highlighted the importance of keeping employees engaged across all age groups and making sure they feel valued, especially in today’s hybrid work reality where the dynamics are less well defined. People are a company’s most important asset and creating an effective employee experience, one which can accommodate and create a great experience for different types of workers will be key to employee retention.”