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A staggering 90% of employees in the UK are ‘quiet quitting' as they seek out other opportunities, Gallup report says

Simon Dawson | Reuters

The U.K. has a serious problem.

Only 10% of U.K. workers were found to be feeling engaged with their jobs, according to Gallup's new State of the Global Workforce 2024 report, with the country trailing behind the U.S. and several European countries.

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This means a staggering 90% of employees are feeling detached from their roles and more than likely hopping onto the "quiet quitting" trend of the past few years.

Additionally, 40% of employees in the U.K. were found to be experiencing daily stress and 27% reported feeling daily sadness — the second highest across all European countries. Another 20% of workers reported feeling daily anger.

Comparatively, 23% of employees globally reported feeling engaged at work and 33% of U.S. workers said they were engaged at work.

Data for Gallup's report was collected in 2023 and it surveyed 128,278 working adults in over 160 countries. The survey was carried out annually either face-to-face or via phone.

"Actively disengaged workers may often be trapped in jobs they do not like for economic reasons," the report said.

"Economic factors likely play a significant role in active disengagement. We infer that job opportunities allow bitter employees to leave bad situations and find better ones."

Less than half of U.K. employees said it's now a good time to find a job and almost one-third said they were actively looking for another job.

U.K. workers weren't confident about the job market because vacancies have been declining since the post-pandemic peak in 2022, according to data from the U.K. Office for National Statistics analyzed by McKinsey.

Job vacancies dropped by 31% in January 2024, compared with two years ago, meaning workers feel compelled to stay put because there aren't as many opportunities out there.

Sharp contrast

In a sample of 10,000 individuals in the U.K. from an Understanding Society longitudinal study between 1991 and 2022, 26% of respondents said they'd like to switch jobs. However, only a quarter of those who said that actually changed employers three years later, per McKinsey. And 19% stayed put despite saying they wanted to leave.

This means that between 20% and 40% of organizations' workforces are made up of quiet quitters, according to McKinsey data combined with the Understanding Society study.

The impact of quiet quitting and disengagement on companies and the economy is significant and Gallup estimates that low levels of engagement cost the global economy $8.9 trillion — or 9% of global gross domestic product.

A Gallup 2024 meta-analysis — mentioned in the report — of 183,000 business units across 53 industries and 90 countries found that companies with high levels of employee engagement also report better outcomes.

The study reported a 68% increase in employee wellbeing; a 23% increase in profitability and a 13% increase in productivity.

"On many well-being items (stress, anger, worry, loneliness), being actively disengaged at work is equivalent to or worse than being unemployed," according to the report.

"In contrast, when employees find their work and work relationships meaningful, employment is associated with high levels of daily enjoyment and low levels of all negative daily emotions."

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