Six in 10 (60%) UK employees are happy in their jobs, with one in five (20%) of these going so far as to say they are very happy, according to the ‘Job Satisfaction Index’ by specialist recruiter Robert Half UK.

The index – which looks into work attitudes among full and part time employees – also reveals that of those surveyed, a third (33%) of British employees are considering a new job, increasing to nearly half (46%) for those aged 18-34. Regionally, London tops the league table with half (50%) of those surveyed likely to look for a new job this year, compared to only 24% for those living in Yorkshire.

Indeed, with the jobs market showing increased signs of buoyancy, more than eight in 10 (83%) C-suite executives have – in a separate study – admitted that they are concerned about losing top performers.

Remuneration remains a key driver for employees looking to switch, with more than a quarter (27%) doing so because they are dissatisfied with their current salary. The majority (40%) claim that a higher base salary would be the deciding factor in accepting a new job.  Looking at the gender divide, men are more inclined to prioritise a base salary (45%), compared to just 35% of women.

Other reasons for switching jobs this year include a lack of ‘promotional opportunities’ and ‘boredom in their current role’ (15%), a desire for ‘better work-life balance’ (14%) and ‘dissatisfaction with company leadership’ (9%).  Less than one in 10 (7%) were moving for a career change.

Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director, Robert Half UK commented: “Top performers are instrumental in helping organisations grow. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to retain your best and brightest. When considering a job move, salary remains a crucial deciding factor for the majority of employees. However, firms looking to attract top talent know that financial remuneration is only one factor affecting candidates’ decisions. The research shows employees also want their job to be a means of attaining professional development and aim to balance work and life commitments. Therefore, offering a comprehensive benefits package, tailored to individual employees’ preferences such as flexible working, holiday purchase scheme and educational assistance, will help companies position themselves as great places to work.”

Top four signs that an employee may quit and how employers should respond:

  1. A noticeable change in attitude: A formerly enthusiastic individual may become withdrawn and indifferent while performing his or her role
  2. Longer lunch breaks and frequent absences: This may be a sign that the employee is using the time for job interviews. It also can mean the individual is bored with his or her work.
  3. More professional attire: Does the person come to work in business dress even though your company has a casual/semi-casual dress policy?
  4. A drop in productivity: Perhaps an employee who used to take projects home or work overtime no longer does. Also, forgetfulness about deadlines, meetings and appointments could indicate a worker who is gradually disconnecting from a job.

How to respond: What should you do if you see these red flags? It’s definitely not the time to take a “wait-and-see” approach. Rather, it’s best to ask the employee if he or she is planning to leave. If you discover the employee is preparing to quit, the following are some suggestions for handling the situation:

  • Emphasise the employee’s value and opportunities:  If you risk losing a key employee, consider offering an incentive to stay. Stress the person’s value to the organisation and discuss future career opportunities with the company. However, don’t promise more than you can deliver.
  • Don’t pin your hopes on a counteroffer: Making a counteroffer is still a risky business for both you and the employee. Even if the individual accepts your offer, the “trust exchange” between you has been compromised. From that point on, you may doubt his or her loyalty.
  • Leave the door open: If a valued employee decides to leave, tell the person to feel free to contact you if things don’t work out with the new position. Express that you would be happy to have him or her join your team again.