Job hunting hits two-year high

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Indications are that the jobs market is perking up. Hot on the heels of headlines proclaiming that unemployment has dropped to the three-year low of 7.6%, is news that job hunting has hit a two-year high.

In short, one in four workers are scouring around for a new role, according to the report by HR body the CIPD, in partnership with Halogen.

Clearly this is a wake-up call for employers. Those who have become complacent managers during the downturn are in danger of seeing their top talent walk out the door. But could it conversely be a blessing for smaller businesses or start-ups that have in recent years been unable to lure professionals away from more established employers?

 

Who’s on the hunt?

The CIPD survey of 3,000 employees shows that the private and voluntary sectors are leading the exodus, with 24% of workers looking to switch jobs, while the public sector isn’t far behind with 23%.

 

Why are they on the hunt?

After six bleak years of soaring unemployment, it’s no wonder that many workers with jobs have felt too insecure to move.

But that looks set to change. As the economy improves, there’s been a gradual thawing of recruitment freezes, with some 24% of employees reporting that their organisation is not recruiting, down from 28% in spring 2013 and 29% in winter 2012.

More to the point, with unemployment dropping slowly but surely it’s not surprising that workers are now plucking up courage to find a better employer, earn more money, and progress.

And that’s the crux. The CIPD research shows that the happier economy is bolstering jobseekers’ confidence, but it is their increasing job dissatisfaction that is driving them to hunt for new roles.

Some 62% of those surveyed say they are unfulfilled by their work, with only 10% satisfied. In addition, 45% of those on the hunt also claim to be suffering from stress, with only 19% saying they never feel under excessive pressure.

Employers certainly need to take note of the fact that some 27% of workers say they have never had a performance review at work, yet 61% say that career progression is important to them.

 

Economic indicators

Jobseekers have grounds to be confident. The pace of UK economic recovery has picked up this year, expanding at its fastest pace in more than three years as gross domestic product between July and September grew by 0.8%.

 

What about small businesses?

Small- and medium-sized firms (SMEs) in the UK are now feeling more positive about the economy, according to the SME Finance Monitor. Although just over a quarter, surveyed in the third quarter of 2013, rated the economic climate as an obstacle to running their business in the next 12 months, this was down from 34% in the same quarter last year and the lowest level since the survey began in 2011.

Equally positive, in September, The Voice of Small Business Index, published by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), found that 15% of SMEs had increased staff numbers in the third quarter of 2013. This is the highest figure reported since the Index began in 2010 and reflects the improved employment figures.

Whether this will inspire the new-wave of jobseekers to flock to SMEs is another question. A recent poll by TotalJobs.com of more than 8,400 people, found that 51% of jobseekers believed there was less opportunity for career progression in SMEs, while 34% believed they were less desirable as they offered lower salaries.

This perception is being challenged, however. The Government has identified the SME sector as crucial to the revitalization of the economy and has been introducing a number of incentives. Its most recent is the Employment Allowance, which aims to give small businesses a cut of up to £2,000 in their National Insurance contributions from April 2014. According to FSB research, small businesses will use this allowance to boost staff wages (29%), employ additional staff (28%) and invest in resources (24%).

On balance, then, the stage is now set for a reinvigorated jobs market and strengthening economy.

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