Employee Confidence in U.K. Business and Economy Languished in 3Q

Gartner Global Talent Monitor (GTM) shows pervasive Brexit worries in 3Q, with more far employees staying put in their current jobs.

Employee confidence in U.K. business conditions and economic prospects remained at a two-year low in 3Q19, according to the latest GTM. These findings predate the U.K. general election, which was called in late October and held on December 12.

“Leading up to the October Brexit deadline, companies spent most of 3Q19 developing a no-deal scenario, storing inventories and reassuring employees about various Brexit outcomes,” says Brian Kropp, Distinguished Vice President, Gartner. “This was at the expense of important initiatives for employee development such as training, evaluation and team building.”

The U.K. business confidence index — a measure of employee confidence in business and the economy — was 45.2 in 3Q19, down nearly 25 index points from 3Q18, when the index score was 60.1, and well below the global average of 51.7. This trend is a troubling one for senior leaders who are trying to reassure employees and create contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit. 

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More employees stay put amid Brexit worries

U.K. employees’ intent to stay jumped to nearly 42% in 3Q19 — a significant increase from a year earlier when 26% of employees were highly likely to remain in-seat. This was in addition to a significant decline in successful job-seeking activity year over year, to 36% from 51%.

“In 3Q, organizations were wrestling with the question of how to balance the running of day-to-day business operations amid ongoing uncertainty about Brexit,” says Kropp, who added that the U.K. labor market will continue to suffer until political stability emerges.

Read more: U.S. Companies Offer Less of a Pay Bump to Attract Job Switchers

U.K. employees prioritize work culture and supportive managers

The 3Q19 report also showed that people management is the No. 1 reason that employees decide to leave an organization in the U.K., followed by work-life balance and manager quality. 

Compensation was a lesser driver of attrition. When considering a new job, work-life balance, location and respect were ranked as the top considerations for U.K. employees.

“It’s not surprising to see employees weight culture over compensation — our research shows that Gen Z in particular is focused on development opportunities and advancing their skill sets,” says Kropp.

U.K. employees will make employment decisions based on perceptions of the working environment

Gartner research on managers found a wider shift in the mentality of modern employees, who respond to not only a different set of rewards, but to a whole new style of management. Although companies have been seeking out Always-On managers, who provide constant coaching to employees, it is Connector managers who are ultimately more successful at developing employees by fostering meaningful connections to and among employees, teams and the organization.

“U.K. employees will make employment decisions based on perceptions of the working environment, and they are even willing to trade money for a more positive experience that encompasses organizational culture and management,” Kropp says.

“HR leaders must work to build these changing priorities into their employee value proposition and candidate and employee engagement strategies for 2020 to attract and retain the talent they need.”

Learn more: Strengthen Your Employee Value Proposition

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About the Gartner Global Talent Monitor

Global Talent Monitor data is drawn from the larger Gartner Global Labor Market Survey that is sourced from more than 30,000 employees in 40 countries and regions. Conducted quarterly, the survey reflects market conditions during the quarter preceding publication. The job opportunity barometer uses five survey questions to measure employees’ perceptions of the availability and quality of other employment opportunities in their current locations, industries and functions.

  • Discretionary effort refers to employees’ willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty, such as helping others with heavy workloads, volunteering for additional duties and looking for ways to perform the job more efficiently.
  • Intent to stay refers to employees’ desire to stay with the organization based on whether they intend to look for a new job within a year, frequently think of quitting, have actively been looking for a new job, or have taken steps such as placing phone calls and sending out résumés.

This article is based on insights that are part of an in-depth collection of research, tools, templates and advice available to Gartner clients. Gartner for HR clients can also access country, industry and functional detail from the Global Talent Monitor 3Q19: Update on Workforce Activity.

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