Companies ‘must offer more to workers or face exodus’

The Autonomy thinktank surveyed more than 1,000 workers in the transport and logistics, care and hospitality sectors.

Thinktank says higher pay, shorter working week or better benefits can help solve labour market crisis

By Larry Elliott

Original article:

Companies need to offer higher pay, a shorter working week or enhanced benefits to prevent an exodus of unhappy staff over the next 12 months, research has found.

A survey by Autonomy, a thinktank specialising in the future of work, concluded that improving working conditions was vital for sectors suffering from acute labour shortages.

In the wake of a report suggesting almost one in four workers were considering quitting their jobs in the next few months, the Autonomy poll of more than 1,000 workers in the care, transport and logistics, and hospitality industries showed:

  • 41% were considering leaving their job in the next 12 months.

  • Low pay, long working hours and poor mental health were often cited as reasons for dissatisfaction.

  • The majority of those considering quitting had been offered no incentives to stay by their employers.

  • Workers in these sectors reported that a pay rise, shorter working hours for the same pay and better in-work benefits such as holiday pay and pensions would stop them from resigning.

UK job vacancies are at a record high, reaching 1.1m in the latest data reported by the Office for National Statistics, and Autonomy said shortages of labour had had a severe impact on business, leading to a loss of clients and income through an inability to deliver services and products.

Will Stronge, the thinktank’s director of research, said: “The good news is that the labour market crisis can be solved fairly easily by offering better working conditions.

“However, the response by companies is falling far short of what is needed and unless they quickly come up with a better offer, our research suggests the crisis is going to get a lot worse in the next 12 months.

“The Covid pandemic has shone a spotlight on unfair and precarious working practices in Britain and it seems that workers have simply had enough.”

The Autonomy survey also contained new analysis from the shareholder advisory firm PIRC that showed three-quarters of the largest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange – with a collective global workforce of 4.5 million – cited labour shortages or staff retention as principal risks to their business.

Tom Powdrill, the head of stewardship at PIRC, said: “The labour market is at a crucial juncture that requires urgent action.

“Private sector companies have a duty to themselves, their investors and their workforces to take steps in order to avoid further problems and costs down the line. Listening to workers is a good start.”

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