Posted By Westfield Health

Posted on22nd September 2021

As the UK learns to live with the Covid-19 pandemic, employees are considering how their working lives might change in the new normal. But with economic recovery at the top of many business agendas, leaders who neglect employee wellbeing may find that their top talent is looking to change jobs.

In our latest report, Emergency Exit, we asked 1,500 people from across the UK how they feel about their job, their mental health and burnout.

The results reveal that 16 million workers will be looking for a new role in the next six months, and mental health is a driving factor for 59% of them. The cost of recruiting their replacements will set UK businesses back by £48.2bn in recruitment fees alone — a significant impact on the bottom line for those already stretched.

Key findings

Emergency Exit Key findings infographic

New priorities drive mass job change

With more than half (52%) of employees considering changing jobs in the next six months, the workforce looks set to enter another period of unrest.

Their reasons suggest that the pandemic has altered workers’ priorities, with many seeking improvements to their working style or mental or physical health. Employees’ top three motivations for considering a new role are:

  • To try something new or change careers (40%)
  • For a better work-life balance (35%)
  • To prioritise my mental or physical health (34%)

When asked how their mental health is influencing their decision, over half (59%) said it’s a major factor in them looking for a new job. Of those struggling with workplace mental health, the three most common issues are:

  • Too much work (33%)
  • Financial pressures (32%)
  • I’m unhappy with my work environment (24%)

As well as those looking to leave their jobs, around a third of workers (30%) are considering a career break. Here, again, the top reason by far was to protect their mental health (29%). The usual reasons for taking time out were less of a priority, with only 13% saying they’d like to travel and 7% taking a break to raise children.

An opportunity for employers

With so many workers looking to change roles, business leaders who focus on improving their employer brand will be able to keep their best people and attract new talent.

Only 17% of those looking to leave said there’s nothing that could be done to make them stay, suggesting an opportunity for employers to put new measures in place and improve the employee experience. The top three most coveted improvements were:

  • Flexible or remote working options (43%)
  • A pay rise (40%)
  • More wellbeing support (35%)

It’s clear that flexibility is a key priority for many workers and, while leaders may be keen to return to business as usual, they should bear in mind that their people may vote with their feet.

During this period of uncertainty, HR teams must keep communication channels open to ensure their people are able to work at their best. To help their people feel supported, organisations should focus on resilience and culture change which bolsters both the wider workforce and individual needs.

Find out more

To read more about the findings and how employers can prevent a talent drain, download our free Emergency Exit report.


You can also sign up for our free webinar on 14 October, where our expert panel will explore the employee retention crisis in the UK. They’ll be discussing the key findings from the report, what can be done to reduce staff turnover and how to look after employee wellbeing to prevent burnout.

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