Nearly half of the UK’s retail workers will be looking for new jobs in 2016, with one in seven (14%) already actively job hunting, according to new research from Investors in People.

The findings are highlighted in a new report, Job Exodus Trends 2016, which shows that more than a third (36%) of retail workers are complaining about lack of career progression, two in five (42%) feel that their management is poor and nearly half (47%) are unhappy with their levels of pay, prompting a potential “mass exodus”.

But getting a payrise would not solve the problem of being badly managed or feeling undervalued. Pay is important to employees but it’s clear that it’s not the only answer, the report concludes.

The survey asked respondents to choose between two scenarios – a 3% payrise, in line with recent UK increases, or a different non-remuneration benefit:

  • Nearly a third (29%) said they would prefer a more flexible approach to working hours than a 3% payrise
  • One in five (22%) said they would rather have a clear career progression route
  • A similar number (22%) would rather their employer invested in their training and development more

Head of Investors in People Paul Devoy said: “Improved salaries over recent months means that pay is less of a gripe for UK workers. But longstanding issues around poor management and how valued people feel in their work continue to make UK workers miserable. We know that bad leadership alone costs the UK £39bn a year*. If employers addressed these factors, they would have a more committed workforce and far fewer resources tied up in constant recruitment drives.

“As the economy improves, many employers run the risk of losing their valuable, skilled staff.”

Nearly a third of employees (29%) in the retail sector say they are quite or extremely unhappy in their jobs.

When asked what one thing their employer could do to increase their happiness in their current role, 11% just wanted to be told ‘thank you’ more.

Paul continued: “Small things can make a big difference. Feeling valued, understanding their role in the organisation and how they can grow with an organisation are all big concerns for UK workers. Saying thank you, involving employees in decisions and giving them responsibility over their work are basic ways to make staff happier, and more likely to stay. Employers also win, with a more committed workforce, higher retention and a clearer view of the future.”

*The Impact of Investing in People report, Investors in People, October 2015