The pandemic and subsequent UK lockdowns have had a transformative impact on UK employees, with more than a third(36%) aged 18-34 moving house so as to secure a better quality of life, according to new findings from Close Brothers. The corresponding figure for those aged 55+ is just 9%, while the UK average is one-in-five (21%).
It is notable that employees in London are most eager to make the change, with 38% moving to get that better quality of life. It is a significantly greater proportion than the next most likely regions, the East Midlands and the East of England (both 23%). The region in which employees are least likely to have made the shift is the North East (9%).
The new report, ‘Expecting the unexpected: a spotlight on preparing for a crisis’, highlights the extent to which the past 12 months have changed the financial plans of employees across the UK. The findings also show that 39% of workers plan to move to remote working full time as a result of the pandemic with 30% doing so part time. Around one-in-five have decided that they want to reduce the amount of time they spend working (18%), while 14% either have already retrained, or are planning to retrain, for a new career.
Outside of work the report also uncovers significant behavioural change. Three fifths of UK employees are exercising more (61%), meanwhile 58% intend to go out more when possible, and the same number are making a concerted effort to connect more with friends and family. Over half (55%) want to engage in a healthier diet and focus more on activities to improve wellbeing and mental health.
The last 18 months have had an almost incalculable impact on people’s mental and physical health, but it has had a notably tangible impact on employee behaviour when it comes to their finances too. With many employees having to take difficult financial decisions, the research identifies that around three quarters (73%) of UK female workers either plan to or have already started keeping a closer eye on their day-to-day spending as a result of the pandemic. This is the case for more than half (52%) of their male counterparts.
COVID-19 has also spurred employees to think more about planning for the unexpected. Almost two thirds (61%) are saving into an emergency fund. Furthermore, one in five (20%) have been prompted to write their will.
Top changes made to improve financial wellness
Keeping a closer eye on day to day spending
Saving more into an emergency savings fund
Writing a will/ updating an existing will
Saving more into my personal pension
Increasing my contribution to my workplace pension
Jeanette Makings, Head of Financial Education at Close Brothers said: “For years, we’ve been keeping a close eye on the financial wellbeing of UK employees and in the last few years, there are some signs of trending in the right direction. But the impact of the pandemic and the experience through multiple lockdowns have been a catalyst for some significant lifestyle changes and in employees taking steps to improve their mental, physical, and financial health.
“At this moment in time employees are more focused than ever about the importance of better managing their finances. It is therefore the perfect time for employers to push harder on their financial wellbeing strategies and better support their employees’ financial health. More employees need it and more employees are ready, willing and able to listen. For those organisations doing more to improve their financial wellbeing strategies now, the rewards won’t just be felt by their employees but there will also be tangible benefits to business performance, so it’s a double win.”