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Number of UK workers worried about job loss doubles

A stagnant labour market, high inflation and high living costs have combined to make UK workers particularly anxious

Research found 42% of workers in the UK are worried about losing their jobs, up from 28% last year.

The research from recruitment agency Randstad found workers in the UK are more fearful than workers in North America (28%) and Japan (18%).

Elsewhere in Europe, 36% of workers in Portugal are worried about job loss and 37% in Poland.

Victoria Short, CEO of Randstad, told HR magazine that a stagnant labour market, high inflation and high living costs have combined to make UK workers particularly anxious.

Labour market data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that vacancies fell for the 19th month in succession in December, while there was a sharp decline in wage growth in the three months to November.

Inflation jumped to 4% this week (17 January), double the Bank of England’s target. In the Eurozone, inflation sits at 2.9%.

The energy cap has also been raised by 5% and ONS data found UK rental prices rose 6.2% in the 12 months to December 2023.

Short said: "Workers in the UK are being battered by bad news. It's quite a cocktail, and it’s hitting job confidence.

“The concerns of workers are not entirely unjustified. It’s clear the jobs market is cooling with softer than expected UK wage data out this week. This on top of news that inflation in the UK rose in December.

"This is playing a part in the growing anxiety among workers here amid the continued cost of living crisis and pressures on employers.”

Read more: Redundancy rounds top reason other employees want to quit

Short added that AI has created a faster pace of change in the world of work.

She said: “AI has started to upend many norms and expectations in the workplace. More than ever, workers need to learn new skills to fit into evolving businesses. Reskilling is no longer a tool for career advancement but a tool for survival. 

“Career-wise we are entering the most challenging time for most since the pandemic. Either way, you will see more anxiety in the workplace this year.”

Last year a majority of workers in the UK (56%) said they would quit a job if they felt like they didn’t belong there, compared with less than a quarter (24%) this year.

Angela O'Connor, CEO of consultancy The HR Lounge, said employers should remain transparent and communicative about potential job losses.

She told HR magazine: “Organisations can help staff by being honest with them about potential threats to jobs at the earliest opportunity, so staff can plan for their future careers. Employers can help them build on their skills through formal and informal development opportunities, which will make them more marketable.”

Randstad researched the views of 27,000 workers from 34 markets across Europe, Asia Pacific and the Americas.

Read more: Half of HRDs see retraining as solution to the skills gap