With UK inflation still high at 8.7%, interest rates at their highest level in 15 years, and more companies looking to make cost savings, Britain’s workers are feeling uncertain about their future with 58% fearing for the security of their job, according to new SurveyMonkey research.
This year poses a unique challenge for businesses and their employees as companies look to cut budgets and teams to weather the economic down-turn, finding ways to do more with less whilst still retaining their top talent for when business picks back up.
With 85% of British employees working for companies who have made redundancies over the course of the past year, almost one in four (23%) are fearful that they could be made redundant in 2023, with an additional 35% concerned for the long-term security of their job.
Employees feeling nervous about their business’ survival long-term
Set against a challenging economic backdrop with high levels of business uncertainty, employees are bearing the brunt of businesses’ budget cuts. With the majority of Brits working for companies that have made redundancies in the past year, nearly one in four (23%) believe up to 5% of staff have been let go, 28% believing up to 10%, and 21% believing up to a quarter have been let go—amounting to a huge swathe of countrywide redundancies.
Whilst many employees remain optimistic about the future, with 45% believing that things will get better this year in terms of outlook for the business they work for, a sizable 27% believe things are going to get worse, pointing to the fact that the worst may not yet be behind us. Just 62% of Brits feel confident in the ability of their current business to weather the current economic turmoil and survive long-term, whilst 30% of Brits are nervous about the survival of their current business past the next year.
Cormac Kelly, Senior Director Customer Success EMEA, SurveyMonkey said, “Companies are having to make difficult decisions to balance the books and ensure the long-term viability and success of their business, and redundancies are an unfortunate aspect of this.
“Whilst cost saving may be the main goal, it’s important to ensure businesses bring their remaining team along with them for the journey, and ensure they understand how valuable they are to the company and its future vision. Companies will need everyone pulling in the same direction, with everyone feeling valued and secure to deliver a successful business long-term.”
Squeezed budgets lead businesses to do more with less
As businesses look to cut their spending, they are downsizing not just budgets, but whole departments and teams. This is being felt by Britain’s workers, with over half (56%) feeling that their department’s team or budget have been cut in the past 12 months, with 33% saying both have been reduced.
Whilst the majority of Brits feel that their department has had their team or budget reduced over the past 12 months, 59% claim their department is expected to provide the same amount of work with reduced resources, with over one in five (22%) claiming their department is expected to provide more work.
Kelly says, “Companies need to think very carefully about managing reduced departments, both in terms of reduced budgets and smaller teams. Without optimisations being made or new technology invested in, teams will soon become stretched and disenfranchised with being asked to do more with less. Companies need to ensure that their teams have the correct support in place, are listening closely to their teams needs, and are acting upon feedback from employees.”
One of the key elements businesses must weigh up when looking to cut costs is the true cost of retaining experienced key talent in the business versus the investment needed to train up more junior staff to fill their place. For businesses looking to keep their experienced older staff a few years longer, there are some things they can do.
When asked which benefits would entice those coming up to retirement to postpone their retirement and stay in their job for longer, being offered an increased salary (48%) and flexible working hours (42%) came out on top. When looking at the top five, however, it becomes evident that it’s not all down to money – flexibility is king to retaining older employees: 1) Increased salary (48%), 2) Flexible working hours (42%), 3) 4-day work week (32%), 4) Flexible working in terms of location (32%), 5) Health insurance (28%).
AI seen as the future, but fears remain over its impact on human jobs
Just at the point when economic uncertainty is causing businesses to tighten their belts, generative AI, such as ChatGPT, is allowing for optimisations to be made and business costs to be reduced. Whilst this is good news for businesses, it is making employees across the UK anxious.
A staggering one in four (24%) Brits believe that AI poses a direct threat to their job and could make their role redundant, whilst 44% believe that AI could take over part of their current day-to-day activities. When looking to the future, the majority of Brits (77%) believe AI will replace some or all human roles in the future, with 15% believing it will replace all human roles, and 63% believing it will replace some human roles.
Kelly says, “With almost half (44%) of Brits believing that investing in AI is essential to improve the long-term survival of their business, it’s no wonder some are feeling anxious about their future roles. At SurveyMonkey, we believe that the melding of technology and humanity is the key to long-term business success.
“Human input is a critical part of the feedback loop that drives business forward, and that’s something tech just can’t replace. However, AI can (and already does) enhance the work we do and free up time for more impactful work.”