Confidence among professional job candidates is at a record high, despite the expectation that the UK is entering a recession.
That’s according to recruitment firm Robert Half’s candidate sentiment research, which found that jobseeker confidence is at an all-time high with 47% of those surveyed saying they were looking for a new job, a notable rise from last year (39%).
The cost-of-living crisis has become the main motivator for workers wanting to switch jobs this year, with almost half of professionals looking for a new role with a higher salary and better benefits package. Despite the uncertain economic climate, many are bullish about their next career move, with 43% of those looking for a new job indicating a desire for better pay.
A desire to work flexibly also featured strongly. Robert Half’s 2023 research showed that while salary was the main motivator to move jobs, workers were seeking better benefits and more flexibility.
More than a quarter (28%) said their current employer’s benefits were not competitive, and 72% revealed that companies need to offer more flexible working arrangements in order to retain them.
The same survey in 2022 ranked benefits as only the sixth biggest push factor.
Matt Weston, senior managing director at Robert Half, said that record levels of jobseeker confidence in a recession is unheard of. “Following a year of skills shortages that have yet to be rectified and with a cost-of-living crisis a key concern for workers, it’s clear that candidates are very aware that they hold the power,” he said.
“With so many people looking for a new job with better pay, employers are going to need to seriously rethink their attraction and retention strategies to contend with the changing wants and needs of today’s workforce without breaking the bank. This should include reviewing training and development offerings, ensuring there are tangible career development opportunities and that diversity, equality and inclusion and ESG strategies are appealing to today’s workers.”
According to the report, counter-offers are still being used to entice employees to stay with their current employer. Two-fifths (38%) of workers who had received a job offer elsewhere, also received a counter-offer, rising to half for those aged 18-34 years (52%).
Robert Half said this was in keeping with its 2023 salary analysis which revealed that many firms are viewing counter-offers as a “necessary evil” despite 27% of businesses admitting that employees who accepted them would still eventually leave.
Weston added: “Employers are already facing a mass talent exodus and to avoid this worsening, more needs to be done to ensure existing staff are retained. And while we know from our Salary Guide data that counter-offers are seen as a short-term fix to retain talent, simply throwing money at a problem is never going to help employers’ talent woes long term.
“The Candidate Sentiment Survey clearly shows that, while salary is king for candidates in the current climate, flexibility and other benefits are also important for workers and must be an integral part of companies’ retention strategies in what will be a tough hiring landscape this year.”