We recently ran a study on 1,200 city professionals that showed that 61% of them 'don't like their jobs', 79% are planning on leaving within 2 years, and 69% are planning on changing their industry as well as their company. What are these City workers so keen to escape from and what would they rather be doing?
We are all well versed with the traditional gripes of the corporate workplace: poor work-life balance, tiresome bureaucracy, formality, hierarchy and irritating corporate speak, competitiveness, lack of control, and prioritising the bottom line over everything else. Thanks to the recession we can now add an awful public reputation and diminished (but by no means disappeared) bonuses to the list of reasons not to work in professional or financial services.
But what is it that these people want from their working lives that they aren't getting in The City? Our research shows that more and more people are now emphasising 'having a positive impact in the world' and 'doing work that matters' as priorities for their careers.
Increasing numbers of city professionals are leaving the City, taking their corporate skills with them. Many of these escapees are starting successful businesses of their own. Others still are applying their professional experience to less mainstream sectors, finding exciting work abroad, or seeking jobs in the growing social enterprise and charity sectors.
The past couple of decades have seen the best and brightest graduates queue up to join city firms (many still are - although they are fighting over fewer positions). The promise of top-class professional training, high starting salaries, and even higher bonuses proved an understandably attractive lure.
Recently, however, it seems like the current generation of city professionals might be the first to follow through en masse on their promise to 'do this for a few years and then go and do something that really interests me.' Whether or not this has more to do with limited promotion prospects and pay freezes than their own determination and values... having more people finding work that really makes them tick must be a good thing?
Rob Symington is co-founder of the website Escape the City