Voice of the Employee

Nine in 10 professionals would be open to a job approach this time of year, despite not actively looking themselves – citing positive company culture (70%), competitive salary and benefits package (69%), and good work-life balance (68%) as the top three determinants for personal job satisfaction.

The research comes from staffing business Walters People to coincide with Blue Monday (Jan 20) being the most popular day for people to either hand in their resignation or start looking for a new role.

But what is it about Blue Monday that encourages people to finally ‘throw in the towel’ with work?

Phill Westcott, Director at Walters People, shares his thoughts: The end of the year is typically a time to reflect, take stock of the year past, and plan for the year ahead. Given how intrinsically linked our personal and career goals are, it is not surprising that January is such a popular time for career reflection.

Added to this, we spend more than a third of our time at work (from commuting to extra hours at our desk) and so if an individual does want to make a drastic or important life changes, then career does often play a part in this.

These are some of the typical reasons I have witnessed over the past 20 years as to why candidates change jobs in January:

Pay and Benefits:

Money is often the key driver in a person achieving their life (or day-to-day) goals – whether that be regular holidays or travelling, buying a house, or having an active social life. The biggest driver of a professional leaving a job is that they are unhappy with their salary – with 40% of the population stating that they do not feel they are paid adequately for the work that they do.

Added to this, a poor end of year bonus can be the last straw in a professional feeling undervalued, causing a candidate to look elsewhere in January. In fact, a third of British professionals stated that they were expecting a 10% bonus at the end of 2019, with over half (52%) stating that they were likely to leave their job if they didn’t receive this.


According to the Walters People survey, 85% state that a clear progression path is an important factor in determining job satisfaction. However only 10% claim to ‘very satisfied’ with this element of their job.

The beginning of the year is typically a time for appraisals and promotions. If a candidate is aware that they are not going to get the promotion that was potentially discussed six or 12 months prior then this is a motive to start looking elsewhere.


The festive period and catching up with old friends or family can naturally cause people to compare themselves against others – especially if everyone else if putting their ‘best foot forward’ and talking about how great things are going for themselves. This can often heighten the fact that a person may feel bored, unchallenged or unappreciated by their work. 66% of professionals state challenging/interesting work is a ‘very important’ factor of their personal job satisfaction.

The beginning of the New Year is a time for new adventures and change. Those who feel they have been at an organisation for too long can use the beginning of a year as the perfect motive they were looking for to begin searching for a new role. I’d say this behaviour is much more common amongst Millennials and Generation Z – who typically move around every two years.


From my experience people rarely leave because of a company per se, but rather because of the people – and in most cases due to management. The end of a year can be a time to reflect on the relationships around you, and that goes for relationships at work too. 66% stated that open and effective management is important to them, yet only 17% stated that they were receiving this in their current role. Managers who don’t make their staff feel valued, appreciated and inspired can expect a high turnover.

We all wish to go into the New Year with a refreshed and positive mindset and so it’s not surprising to see that professionals who work in an uninspiring or unhealthy work environment or company culture tend to leave at the beginning of the year. In fact, 70% state that positive company culture is central to job and personal satisfaction.

Work-life Balance:

December tends to be a time for winding down at work and for most professional services offices they effectively close or encourage working from home. This prolonged period off and time with family and friends is a crucial time of reflection on a person’s work life balance – with 68% stating this as one of their primary factors for job satisfaction.

If a professional has a lengthy commute, heavy workload, feelings of stress, long hours or inflexible hours then an employee often comes back in January wanting to do something about this – with one solution being to move jobs. The peak period of feeling frustrated about this will often be the three weeks in mark.

Personal Life:

Big changes in personal life are often a determinant in a person changing jobs. For example, if a person has a partner who they share their life with then their career choice is something that is often discussed and agreed between the two (be it location, hours, pay etc).

Typically, the most drastic changes to personal relationships happen in December, causing January to be a time for job change to fit in with this. For example:

  • December is the most popular time for marriage proposals – 40% of all proposals take place during this period (
  • Early December (12th) is when the most amount of relationships break-up (according to Facebook relationship status data).

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