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Number of promotions halved during Covid, research suggests

4 Feb 2021 By Francis Churchill

Third of survey respondents are actively looking for a new job, with experts highlighting that training opportunities are key to retaining talent

The number of promotions received by British workers has halved during the pandemic, a survey has found, leading to an increase in the number of people looking for a new job.

A poll of 2,040 professionals, conducted by HowNow, found that the number of promotions in the last 12 months was 48 per cent lower than the previous year.

Just a quarter of those polled (24 per cent) said they had seen promotions in their team over the last year, compared to 72 per cent the year before, with workers over the age of 55 the least likely to be promoted.



Those aged between 35 and 44 were most likely to receive a promotion (35 per cent), with just 14 per cent going to the over-55s.

The same survey also found that more than half of those polled (52 per cent) had received no training since the pandemic started, with another quarter (23 per cent) reporting a significant decrease in the training received. According to the research, the average company spent 67 per cent less on training in the last 12 months compared to the previous year.

A third (35 per cent) of those polled were actively looking for a new job, with a lack of growth in their current role cited as the main reason employees were looking to move on in 42 per cent of cases.


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Stress was also cited as a reason workers were looking for a change by 60 per cent of respondents, while 51 per cent said they clashed with management.

Nelson Sivalingam, CEO and co-founder of HowNow, said that while at the start of the pandemic many employees were content just keeping their jobs, almost a year into the outbreak this appreciation is starting to wear. “Those who are unsatisfied now appear to be stepping up their job search,” he said.

Sivalingam added that in some ways coronavirus had made it easier to change jobs. “In the current environment where changing a job is essentially: same home, different Zoom call and the switching costs are not as high, it is even more important to engage and retain employees by investing in their continued learning and development,” he said.

“By giving them the opportunity to improve their skills and rewarding this development with promotion incentives, you’ll stand a much better chance of keeping your employees.”

Earlier this month, a survey of 5,000 workers by Totaljobs found that nearly nine in 10 (89 per cent) employees were thinking about changing jobs, and put the proportion of workers actively looking at 77 per cent.

Commenting on this, Claire McCartney, senior resourcing and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, said training opportunities were one of the key ways organisations could retain talent and develop the skills needed to thrive.

“Organisations must have a long-term and strategic approach, and make sure the needs of the business and external landscape are considered,” she said. “This will also help to ensure training is not seen as an easy target for cost-cutting measures.”

Employers also needed to maximise their use of digital learning technology to ensure those working remotely were still able to build the skills they needed to develop and progress. “HR teams have an important role to play in highlighting the importance of training in helping people to adapt, learn and improve during times of economic uncertainty,” said McCartney.

Yesterday (3 February), a separate report from City & Guilds found that one in three (34 per cent) workers were looking to change careers, but that just under a third (32 per cent) had no idea how their current skillset might be useful in a different sector.

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