A quarter of the UK workforce expect to quit in the next 12 months as the cost of living bites - PwC research

19 Jun 2023

  • Nearly a quarter (23%) of UK workers expect to change jobs in the next 12 months, a 5% rise on 2022
  • Nearly half (47%) of UK employees have little to nothing left over for savings at the end of each month 
  • A fifth (21%) are not satisfied with their current job
  • Less than half (46%) of UK workers believe AI will impact their job in the next five years, versus 68% globally 

Nearly one in four UK workers (23%) expect to change jobs within the next twelve months - up from 18% in 2022 - according to PwC’s Workforce Hopes and Fears survey, in a sign that the ‘Great Resignation’ is far from over.

The survey of over 53,000 workers across 46 countries, including over 2,000 respondents in the UK, also finds that as economic conditions remain challenging, UK employees are increasingly struggling with the cost of living crisis. Almost half (47%) of the UK workforce have little to no money left over at the end of the month after expenses, and a further 15% say their household struggles to pay all/some of the bills every month. In comparison, the average of the global workforce who have little to no money left is below that of the UK, at 38%. 

Strikingly, 12% of workers in the UK have more than one job, with 70% citing earning more money as the reason why. The economic squeeze is also driving up pay demands - over a third (34%) of UK workers are planning to ask for a pay rise in the next twelve months, up 7 percentage points from 2022. In comparison, the global proportion of workers planning to ask for a pay increase jumped from 35% to 42%.

Sarah Moore, Head of People and Organisation at PwC UK, said:

“It’s clear that workplace dissatisfaction looms large - with pay, workload and overall fulfilment at the top of employees' minds. As economic conditions remain uncertain, employers will have less means to respond through pay, so will need to find more flexible and innovative approaches to engaging their staff. Organisations who continue to prioritise their people and invest in programmes focussed on wellbeing, flexible working, career progression and more personalised benefits will reap the rewards of employee loyalty.”

While higher pay is one motivating factor for changing jobs, job fulfilment is another key priority for the UK workforce. The survey finds that over a fifth (21%) of the workforce are dissatisfied with their current role - highlighting that despite economic and job uncertainty, people are still looking to move. Moreover, one in five (21%) feel like they are regularly overworked  and that their workloads have been unmanageable over the last 12 months. Lack of resourcing is most often the factor indicated as causing an unmanageable workload (44%), most acutely seen in the Health, Government/Public Services and Retail & Consumer sectors - other factors include unreasonable targets (33%) and lack of management support (25%). 

Impact of AI on the UK workforce 

UK workers are seemingly less enthusiastic about AI than their global counterparts - under a fifth (19%) believe AI will increase their productivity and efficiency at work (versus 31% globally) and only 17% think AI will create opportunities to learn valuable new skills (27% globally). A further 12% believe AI will require them to learn new skills they are not confident they have the capacity to learn. 

Nearly half of UK workers (47%) are oblivious to the impact of AI on their job in the next five years. Just over a third (32%) don’t believe AI will impact their job in the next five years and a further 15% responded unsure - compared to 22% globally. Unsurprisingly, there is a generational split, with a higher proportion of the older workforce, including 47% of Baby Boomers and 37% of Gen-X believing AI will not impact their jobs in comparison to 28% of Millennials and 18% of Gen-Z. In fact, the younger generation views AI slightly more positively, with 19% of Gen-Z and 17% of Millennials believing that AI will create new job opportunities for them. 

Laura Hinton, Tax, Legal and People and Organisation Leader at PwC UK, said: 

“Businesses continue to undergo massive change - accelerated by AI - and leaders are thinking about how they can use emerging technology to improve jobs, skills and workforce productivity. The survey shows a paradox that UK workers are less positive about AI than workers globally, but at the same time don’t believe it will impact their jobs. The truth is, AI is both a threat and an opportunity - equipping workers to understand the impact and use it responsibly will help them maximise the opportunity and unlock productivity. That’s why we’re investing heavily in AI at PwC and incorporating it into everyday work.”

UK workers skill set will change in the next five years

The UK workforce is facing a rapidly changing workplace environment, yet the report highlights a disconnect between employees and employers. Nearly two thirds (63%) of workers feel they have human- centric skills which are not clear from their education or job history alone and when thinking about the future, nearly half (49%) of UK workers agree that the skills required for their job will change significantly in the next five years. Interestingly, over two-thirds of employees (63%) believe soft skills will be important to their careers and almost half (46%) believe employers are overly focused on the narrow confines of job history. The awareness of the need for upskilling is higher amongst more skilled staff (51% compared to 15% in unskilled staff). This points to a divergence in the workforce where unskilled labour could fall behind further if the opportunities for upskilling are not provided. A further 21% reported that they don’t believe their employer will offer them the opportunity to apply skills that are important to their career and 37% reported that they lacked confidence in their employer’s ability to provide opportunities to develop transferable skills important to their career, including adaptability (56%), critical thinking (57%) and collaborative skills (53%).

Sarah Moore, Head of People and Organisation at PwC UK, adds: 

“Businesses are going through a time of significant disruption- skills shortages, technology advancements and new ways of working means CEOs need to listen to their workforce to successfully adapt. Key to this will be the necessity of leaders to engage the workforce to this change and equip them with the skills of the future. The skills shortage is not a new problem, but as our data shows, there is a mismatch between the skills required and those that employees see as central to their development. In this context, shifting to a human centric skills based organisation could be key. Employers who use skills to find the right people for the right job will widen their talent pool, allowing them to find talent hiding in plain sight.”


Notes to editors: 

  1. PwC surveyed 53,912 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 46 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 2003.
  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
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