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Half of UK workers search for a new job as confidence grows

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Recent research from Investors in People shows that almost a quarter of British workers describe themselves as unhappy in their current job. However despite this, many workers have kept their heads down during the recession in jobs they have outgrown or where they feel undervalued, due to a fear of job insecurity.

But now as the economy recovers, British businesses must act to invest in their people or face a potential exodus of talented staff, as a toxic combination of work dissatisfaction and more confidence in the jobs market means that almost half of British workers – over 14m people –consider moving jobs in the next year. 

One leading cause of unhappiness at work is poor management, and the bigger the company, the worse the problem. In fact, moving past 100 employees can really put a strain on an organisation’s people management; over half of those employed by companies with more than 500 members of staff say they don’t feel valued at work. What’s more, our research shows that many employees feel that their skills and talent would be better valued elsewhere.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, particularly if you are an SME. Our research shows that staff employed by SMEs describe themselves as happier than those employed by larger companies. In fact, those working in organisations with fewer than 50 staff are far less likely to be considering moving jobs in the next 12 months.

SMEs should take the opportunity to capitalize on the impending staff exodus, by positioning themselves as good employers and attracting talented staff from rival firms. Our research showed that a good reputation as an employer is attractive to potential new employees, identifying this as one of the main factors they look for when job searching.

With workers also stating they look for a prospective employer who invests in training and offers good career development, there are steps companies should take to show it cares about its staff. The Investors in People accreditation, with its robust framework, is designed to help businesses demonstrate a commitment to staff and improve productivity, and provides a tangible way to help drive a business’ people management practices forward.

Alongside this framework, there are simple things SMEs can do to make employees feel valued, involved in, and committed to their companies. With closer connections to senior management than larger organisations, it is easier to demonstrate a commitment to staff. Here are our top tips:

  • Involving employees in decision making processes;
  • Clearer communication with all staff ;
  • Staff forums and feedback sessions to reinforce two way communication; and 
  • Ensure all voices are heard.

This new year, make sure your company is well placed to withstand the jobs exodus, retain staff, and attract new talent. Employers can access hundreds of free resources on the Investors in People website. From appraisal templates, quick guides to good management to recruitment tips – all available for download. Find out more at www.investorsinpeople.co.uk.

Valerie Todd is chair of Investors in People and Director of Talent and Resources at Crossrail.

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