Workforce survey: Almost 20% of UK workers expect to quit in the next 12 months

24 May 2022

Polarisation between workers poised to grow as some assert their power

  • Almost one in five say they are likely to switch to a new employer within the next 12 months

  • Just over a quarter plan to ask for a raise; but finding fulfilment at work also ranks high in importance

  • Hybrid working, i.e. a mix of in office and remote/home working, is the preference of the majority of workers surveyed

  • Higher skilled, more specialised employees are most likely to ask for promotions and pay raises and to feel listened to by their manager, while those without specialist skills lack power in the workplace.

The Great Resignation will continue apace in the year ahead as almost one in five UK workers (18%) say they are very or extremely likely to switch to a new employer within the next 12 months, a further 32% say they are moderately or slightly likely to switch and 16% are planning to leave the workforce temporarily or permanently, according to PwC’s Workforce Hopes and Fears survey of 52,195 workers across 44 countries, one of the largest ever surveys of the global workforce. 

The survey, which includes over 2000 respondents in the UK, found 27% of UK workers are planning to ask their employer for more money in the next 12 months (35% globally). Pressure on pay is highest in the tech sector where 42% of workers globally surveyed plan to ask for a pay rise, and is lowest in the public sector (12%). Gen Z and Millennials are the age groups most likely to switch employers or leave the workforce over the next 12 months, and the most likely to ask for a raise or promotion.

While an increase in pay is a main motivator for making a job change (72%), wanting a fulfilling job (68%) and wanting to truly be themselves at work (63%) round out the top three things workers are looking for. Nearly half (46%) prioritised being able to choose where they work.

UK workers say hybrid working is the future

66% of UK respondents are currently working full time or mostly remotely (51% globally), with 59% saying full time or mostly remote working would be their preference 12 months from now (49% globally). Over half (52%) of UK respondents said their work can be done remotely/ from home. However, hybrid working came out on top as the preferred future way of work with 62% of respondents opting for a mix of in-office and remote working. Another 23% expect their employers to require full-time or mostly in-person work, which just 17% of UK respondents prefer (compared to 26% globally), and which only 17% of UK respondents are currently doing. Millennials are the age group most likely to say their work can be done remotely/ from home with three in five (60%)  saying it is possible, compared to 53% of Gen Z, 49% of Gen X and 40% of Baby Boomers. Of those who can work from home/ remotely, UK respondents on lower incomes were more likely to be currently working full time or mostly remotely (73%) compared to respondents on medium income (60%) and high earners (64%), and are more likely to want to continue with remote working in the next year (63%) compared to respondents on medium income (54%) and high incomes (58%).

Kevin Ellis, chairman and senior partner at PwC UK, said:

“The economic outlook may be uncertain but it would be premature to call the end of the Great Resignation. Highly skilled workers are in hot demand and employers can’t be complacent. It’s not just about keeping the most talented workers happy - our data highlights the need and opportunity to create new talent and ensure no one gets left behind. Employees will vote with their feet if their expectations on company culture, reward, flexibility and learning are not being largely met.“

Workplace inequalities

The survey paints a picture of a workforce polarised on a number of dimensions. 

Job dissatisfaction was highest among non-managers, with satisfaction scores increasing with office seniority up to CEO. 51% of respondents in top positions of leadership responded as being very satisfied, compared to only 19% of UK respondents from non-management backgrounds. 

Trends in work preferences could lead to greater polarisation of workers by income group. In the survey, UK respondents from a higher income group were more likely to say their jobs could be done remotely or from home (66%) than respondents from lower income groups (44%). Respondents on lower incomes are also less likely to report as very satisfied with their job (18%) compared to respondents on higher incomes (36%). Those on higher incomes are the most likely group to have roles that require specialist training (55% compared to 36% of medium earners and 32% of low income earners) and most likely to report that their country lacks people with the skills to do their work.

Indeed, one of the biggest drivers of polarisation is skills - with large differences between workers who have highly sought after skills and those who do not. The data shows that those with in-demand skills (23% of the sample feel they have skills that are in short supply in their country) are more likely to feel satisfied with their job (67% v 52%), feel listened to by their managers (62% v 35%) and have money left over after they pay their bills (58% v 47%). 

Age is another polarising factor. In the UK, the younger generation is less likely to feel satisfied at work: 51% of Gen Z responded as very or moderately satisfied compared to 61% of Baby Boomers. Gen Z (31% likely to) and Millennials (36% likely to) are most likely to ask for a wage increase over the next 12 months compared to 20% of Gen X and 14% of Baby Boomers, as the UK grapples with the cost of living crisis. Millennials and Gen Z were the generations most concerned about being overlooked for development opportunities. Gen Z workers are also the most concerned about their lack of opportunities to work with and learn from colleagues with advanced digital or technical skills (24%), and about their employer not teaching them relevant skills for their career (21%) compared to other generations.

Sarah Moore, people and organisation leader and head of purpose at PwC UK, said:

“The mindset of the workforce has changed drastically over the last few years. Temporary solutions to business problems, such as hybrid working, have turned into employee preferences and expectations. Gone is the time when there was uniform agreement on what ‘work’ means and looks like. Our workplace survey shows employer and employee expectations of work life, reward and progression are no longer aligned and the job package on offer is being questioned by employees as they weigh options and what matters to them. Realignment on these matters between employers and employees will be critical to bring stability back into the economy.

“Business leaders need to keep an eye on how their decisions are contributing to creating winners and losers among their workforce and wider society. The survey shows there is polarisation between skilled and unskilled workers, women and men, younger and older generations, senior level workers and those below manager. While polarisation between groups at work is not new, the scale we are now seeing and the consequence of mass resignations is. This polarisation being felt on the ground risks fueling dissatisfaction, disengagement and amplifying employee churn.” 





  1. In March 2022, PwC surveyed 52,195 individuals who are in work or active in the labour market. The sample was designed to reflect a range of industries, demographic characteristics and working patterns. The sample was structured across 44 countries and territories and sample sizes were scaled to reflect each territory or region’s share of global GDP. They range from 5,000 to 250 with an average sample size per territory of around 1,200. The sample size for the UK is 2086.

  2. The age groups in the survey are categorised as Gen Z (ages 18-25), Millennials (ages 26-41), Gen X (ages 42-57), and Baby Boomers (ages 58-76).

  3. The UK report of the survey can be found here. The global report of the survey can be found here

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Alice Bowdery

Alice Bowdery

Manager, media relations, PwC United Kingdom

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