The verdict on UK managers? ‘Must try harder’

Each year, Investors in People (IiP) publish their ‘Job exodus trends’. This does what it says on the tin: how many people are thinking of leaving their jobs in the coming year – and why?

At the end of 2017 IiP polled 2000 people. Remember, 2017 saw the lowest UK unemployment levels since 1975 (4.3% in 2017). However pay has stagnated for the majority (except, of course, those who celebrated on ‘Fat cat Thursday’). In real terms pay has fallen.

Which sectors are most at risk of ‘talent flight’?

  1. Publishing and journalism -75%
  2. Creative arts and design – 73%
  3. Marketing, advertising and PR – 71%

It’s worth noting that the sector frequently in the top 3 of such lists, hospitality and events management, takes 5th place this year. As the 3 most at risk sectors comprise most of Zoomly’s client base (from start-ups to global giants), I want to draw employers’ and managers’ attention to the impending exodus.

What’s prompting the exodus?

Three things workers like least in their current jobs are:
The pay – 23%
Working hours – 20%
Lack of career progression – 20%

I think pay is always a sore point, but for a range of reasons. Historically, dissatisfaction with pay spoke of not feeling recognized and valued, not being encouraged to progress. Leaving a job for more money elsewhere tended to be a short-term remedy if the environment was simlar. But now, pay matters for those reasons and more. Rent and travel costs are increasing, on top of widespread debt burdens for younger employees. Map higher prices and lower appreciation onto Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and people are sliding down.

What can employers and managers do?

The #1 priority is addressing the ‘poor management’ that tops the reasons for being unhappy at work with 49% (compared to pay at 40%). ‘Not feeling valued’ and ‘lack of career progression’ take third and fourth place with 39% and 30% of respondents citing these reasons. It’s not rocket science.

Task managers with giving feedback on a regular basis. Once a year isn’t enough. Once a quarter isn’t enough. Once a month isn’t enough. Welcome to your job. Feedback needs to be given frequently and in real time, whether it’s about performance that needs to improve or performance that merits praise. Contact me if you want to learn more from The Feedback Book.

Provide clear expectations for managers and support to do the job well. Ideally this is walked and talked from the top – how are managers managed? There’s a powerful business case for managers to improve their people management skills. Provide the much-needed learning – and hold managers accountable for applying it back at the job. And yes, Zoomly can help with that.

Foster and chart career progress. If promotion opportunities are scarce, provide stretch assignments and secondments. I’m talking about meaningful, business-critical work – not planning the next Christmas party. Yes, there are logistics to juggle – but surely that’s preferable to yet another recruitment round.


Find out more about IiP and read the full report.

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