Close to two-fifths of workers surveyed confessed that they are looking to change roles within the next year or once the economy has strengthened. 

New research by Personio, a HR software company, has revealed that many workers choosing to leave their firms in the UK and Ireland could cost companies up to £17 billion.

The findings showed that close to two-fifths of workers (38 per cent) said that they are looking to change roles in either the next 6 or 12 months or once the economy has improved.

This was particularly true for the younger groups within the workforce – with over half of 18-34 year olds (55 per cent) desiring a change in career.

Although loss of talent was marked a significant concern for employers (45 per cent), only a quarter (26 per cent) stated that talent retention is an active priority for their organisation over the next year – suggesting that many are leaving themselves vulnerable to huge costs.

This could cost up to £10,076 per business, equating to an estimated £16.9 billion toll on businesses in UK and Ireland.

When comparing the responses of HR professionals to the workforce at large, the study found a big disconnect linked to what employers believe would make staff leave and what workers actually said.

Over a fifth of workers (21 per cent) cited a toxic workplace culture as the reason for looking for a new job, yet only one in 10 (12 per cent) of employers felt this could be a contributing factor for leaving.

Another area which was overlooked by HR is lack of career progression opportunities (noted by 29 per cent of staff but only 17 per cent of decision makers).

Additionally, a further three in 10 employees (29 per cent) did not feel appreciated for the work they do, highlighting the importance of employee recognition. However, less than a fifth (15 per cent) of HR decision makers thought this would be a reason staff would leave their role.

Furthermore, HR decision makers were over twice as likely as employees to rate their business’s support for career development as ‘good’, with almost two-thirds doing so (64 per cent). However, the same sentiment was echoed by only a third of employees (30 per cent).

The firm was also more likely to see its support for work-life balance and mental and physical wellbeing in a more positive light compared to staff.

Hanno Renner, co-founder and CEO of Personio said:

The last year has been a challenging one for businesses and HR teams who have often found themselves ‘firefighting’, dealing with multiple new tasks and concerns. For some, this has caused other areas such as people strategy to fall to the wayside – but this negligence comes at a cost.

Falling out of touch with the workforce’s problems and priorities means that not only could people be more frustrated and ready to resign, but employers will be poorly prepared to prevent people leaving – resulting in lost talent and productivity, and damaged employer brand.

As businesses look to emerge from this crisis in a position of strength and turn the tide on the costs of a potential talent exodus, they now need to come up with a long term people strategy. By prioritising their people and taking a more strategic approach to people management, employers can prevent an impending talent drain and drive their business performance as well as the wider economy.


*To obtain these results, survey fieldwork was undertaken on behalf of Personio by Opinium, with fieldwork conducted between 12th and 22nd March 2021. The survey sample was 500 HR decision makers and 2,002 workers in the UK and Republic of Ireland, across a range of industries and organisation types and sizes.