New research shows that more Brits would quit all work if money were no object than any other nationality. So were the Tory MP authors of Britannia Unchained on to something when they labelled us ‘among the worst idlers in the world’?
What would you do if you won the National Lottery and no longer had to work for a living? It’s a question many people regularly enjoy pondering. Tropical islands and Bond villain-style houses may feature alongside high fashion, lavish Tesla cars, charitable donations, learning languages and just watching loads of telly.
It’s a fun scenario to consider and it seems we in the UK have been considering it rather a lot. More than anyone else it seems, for an international poll commissioned by recruiter Randstad UK has found that 60% of workers in the UK said they would choose not to work if money was no object. This was higher than workers in 20 of the UK’s European peers — including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands, as well as the UK’s closest international competitors.
A lighthearted take on HR
It was also higher than the figure in countries like Canada, the US, China, and Japan. While 60% of workers in the UK agreed that: “If money was no object, I would choose not to work at all,” the international average, 47%, was far lower. Switzerland, Austria, and Romania had the fewest workers who would quit with 38, 37, and 36% respectively.
Randstad apparently asked 27,250 workers this question, across the globe. But what does it tell us?
For Victoria Short, chief executive of Randstad UK, there’s a particular problem in the UK: “The answer suggests economic inactivity is more popular here than in other countries. Willingness to participate in the workforce appears to be a peculiarly British problem.
“This could be because the UK has such stressful working conditions that the average employee can only dream of getting away from – that employers in the UK aren’t giving workers what they want or need.”
Short’s response puts the onus on the employer. But presumably, employers are subject to the same impulses: they too want to put their feet up.
At Personnel Today we have decided those British people who answered the question were simply seduced by the image of themselves sipping a perfectly assembled mojito on a white sand beach for eternity. But in reality they would – after a lengthy holiday – return to some form of work. After all, in the real world it appears that very wealthy people do carry on working after they’ve earned their fortune.
It would be interesting to learn the truth about the choices of those who have suddenly come into money. Otherwise we’d have to re-examine the much-mocked lines from the 2012 book Britannia Unchained by Dominic Raab, Priti Patel, Liz Truss, Kwasi Kwarteng and Chris Skidmore. They infamously wrote: “The British are among the worst idlers in the world. We work among the lowest hours, we retire early and our productivity is poor. Whereas Indian children aspire to be doctors or businessmen, the British are more interested in football and pop music.”
Let’s hope they were wrong!