In charge: Frontline workers now hold the power in turbulent jobs market, finds global report

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Traditionally overworked and underpaid, the UK’s frontline workers are taking back control when it comes to employment, using a volatile market to their advantage and finding jobs that work for them – according to a new global report.

The annual study, by workforce management experts Quinyx, found that two thirds (67%) of deskless workers are now confident of finding another position quickly based on their skills.

This is a marked increase from 2021 when just 40% of non-office-based staff in the UK – from couriers, nurses and warehouse operatives to waiting staff, hauliers and shop assistants – believed they had many job opportunities open to them.

The international report surveyed 1,500 UK workers and 9,300 globally; it found that more than half of frontline staff nationwide (57%) have considered quitting for new roles over the past 12 months.

Reasons for potentially making a move, across all industries, include feeling stressed at work (45%) and wanting a better salary (42%). For one in seven workers (14%), not sharing the same values as their company is enough to make them consider jumping ship.

Toma Pagojute, chief HR officer at Quinyx UK, says: “Most industries in the UK have been hugely impacted by significant changes in the world including the double whammy of Brexit and Covid, and the current war in Ukraine, resulting in employers now needing frontline workers more than their workers need them. As a result, workers know they can ‘shop around’ in the jobs market – they’re increasingly certain of their own value.

“We also know that salary isn’t always the driver behind employees’ choices – they can make decisions based on how happy a job makes them, and whether it fits with their own beliefs. This is promising news for the workforce in redressing some balance – traditionally, it’s been businesses with the upper hand.

“However, additional findings from our study indicate that employers aren’t yet realising they need to work hard to retain staff.

“Deskless workers, across all sectors, are still experiencing a lack of flexibility at work, no pay rises and feeling like they’re not valued. Our stats suggest they’re not going to stick around, and companies have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to talent retention.”

The Quinyx study revealed that, in contrast to the ‘laptop classes’ enjoying a greater work-life balance from ‘WFH’ and ‘hybrid’ working, deskless employees in the UK aren’t experiencing similar benefits: 39% have no control at all over their work patterns.

Toma adds: “We found that there’s still a real lack of leeway in scheduling for many frontline employees – almost a third (32%) say they feel that asking to change a shift for personal reasons would be perceived negatively by their employer. A further 40% have had to go to work after requesting a shift change because there has been no cover for them.

“There are obviously more practicalities to consider with flexibility for deskless staff, particularly in customer-facing roles, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for it being non-existent.”

The Quinyx State of the Deskless Workforce 2022 report also revealed that, in the UK:

– Only 49% of frontline employees have had a pay increase in the last year.

– 62% say they’ve received no training or educational resources to support their career development.

– 41% do not feel valued by their employer, and over a third of those (35%) say their boss views them as ‘disposable’.

– More than half (51%) say they have experienced understaffing in their workplace in the last 12 months – and 80% of those have felt stressed as a result.

– 60% have been to work sick in the last year as they felt they couldn’t afford to take time off.

– 64% feel uncomfortable speaking to their boss about how work-related stress is impacting their health.

Toma concludes: “There’s continued emphasis on the importance of workplace wellbeing – but this isn’t translating to the experiences of most deskless workers, unfortunately. One of the most heartening stats from our study is that the vast majority of workers – 71% – say they take pride in their work. These are the people who have kept everyone going over the last two years; employers need really to up their game and work on strong engagement strategies if they are going to hang onto their greatest assets – their employees.”

A global comparison

United States

– 74% of frontline workers feel there are many employment opportunities available to them due to their skills.

– 54% have considered quitting in the last 12 months.

– 32% have considered quitting due to stress at work; 33% for a better salary; 14% because they – don’t share the same values as their company.

– 35% do not have any control or say on their work schedule.

– 28% felt like changing a shift for personal reasons would be perceived negatively by their employer.

– 34% tried to change a shift but still had to work because no-one could cover their shift.

– 54% have had a pay increase in the last year.

– 65% say they’ve received no training or educational resources to support their career development.

– 34% do not feel valued by their employer, and 32% say their boss views them as ‘disposable’.

– 47% say they have experienced understaffing in their workplace in the last 12 months – and 59% of those have felt stressed as a result.

– 31% have been to work sick in the last year as they felt they couldn’t afford to take time off.

– 62% feel uncomfortable speaking to their boss about how work-related stress is impacting their health.

Sweden

– 83% of frontline workers feel there are many employment opportunities available to them due to their skills.

– 56% have considered quitting in the last 12 months.

– 24% have considered quitting due to stress at work; 42% for a better salary; 6% because they don’t share the same values as their company.

– 26% do not have any control or say on their work schedule

– 22% felt like changing a shift for personal reasons would be perceived negatively by their employer.

– 32% tried to change a shift but still had to work because no-one could cover their shift.

– 58% have had a pay increase in the last year.

– 62% say they’ve received no training or educational resources to support their career development.

– 30% do not feel valued by their employer, and 37% say their boss views them as ‘disposable’.

– 56% say they have experienced understaffing in their workplace in the last 12 months – and 70% of those have felt stressed as a result.

– 49% feel uncomfortable speaking to their boss about how work-related stress is impacting their health.

Germany

– 79% of frontline workers feel there are many employment opportunities available to them due to their skills.

– 47% have considered quitting in the last 12 months.

– 46% have considered quitting due to stress at work; 49% for a better salary; 12% because they don’t share the same values as their company.

– 90% are able to swap shifts with colleagues.

– 21% felt like changing a shift for personal reasons would be perceived negatively by their employer.

– 45% tried to change a shift but still had to work because no-one could cover their shift.
50% have had a pay increase in the last year.

– 61% say they’ve received no training or educational resources to support their career development.

– 36% do not feel valued by their employer, and 67% say their boss views them as ‘disposable’.

– 57% say they have experienced understaffing in their workplace in the last 12 months – and 81% of those have felt stressed as a result.

– 54% have been to work sick in the last year as they felt they couldn’t afford to take time off, even though 45% have paid sick leave.

– 63% feel uncomfortable speaking to their boss about how work-related stress is impacting their health.

Additional stats available. Read the full report here: https://www.quinyx.com/en-uk/deskless-workforce

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