Is the UK Driving their Workforce Abroad?

Rutherford Cross’ finance recruitment specialist, Harry Thomson looks at why so many UK employees are making the move abroad, and some tips for employers to improve employee retention.


We are seeing times tighten within the UK economy.

People are becoming more cautious with their money and are reflecting on what is going to be best for themselves and their families as we head into 2023.

According to a recent report by The National news, around 330,000+ people left the UK to move abroad in 2021. This, accompanied by Total Jobs reporting that 4.5 million people in the UK would consider a move abroad, means we will likely see this number rise as we head into the new year.


Why is this happening?

The big talking points at present are the cost-of-living crisis and the 2023 budget, and people will be looking to increase their take-home salaries to match the current level of inflation. Businesses are also facing a tightening of funds and trying to find a happy balance between keeping employees content and being able to operate profitably within the current economy.

The UAE has seen an increase in Brits moving there in recent times. They have been attracted by the many new job opportunities and tax-free salaries, and it is hard to ignore the year-round sunshine. There has also been a rise in the ability to work remotely for many individuals in the post-pandemic world, presenting the chance for people to travel more without having to take time out of work.

The British Business Group in Dubai has reported that there are currently more than 120,000 British Citizens living in the UAE, and one might assume this number will increase as we head into the new financial year in April 2023, and begin to see more cuts within the UK economy.


What can be done?

While the economy is outside our control, there are some steps businesses can take to ensure employees maintain a certain quality of life; some of which I covered in my recent blog about Creating a Positive Culture. As we enter into the latest economic decline, there are a few other ways to support employees.

Individuals will often leave a role due to poor people management, package/reward or lack of progression. Businesses can’t always address lack of progression as a result of their structure, but financial reward can be worked on in most cases, within reason. The key area that businesses have the most control over is their people management.

It is important for employees and managers to have a clear and open communication style, keeping them in the loop and allowing for feedback. To achieve this throughout the organisation, communication must be transparent from the top and be demonstrated throughout. This allows employees at all levels to clearly see the culture of the business and to feel valued and appreciated.

By focusing on improving people management, you can help ensure that business is driving forward in the right direction. This in turn leads to improvements in staff performance and greater development and retention of employees. Once businesses have these aspects in control, the financial and progression routes begin to take care of themselves. Subsequently, by taking this action, you have a more efficient workforce warranting progression; and most likely a financial improvement that will allow for it.


 Key Takeaway

With the attraction of moving overseas likely to continue to grow in the new year, the focus on financial and cultural aspects of work has never been more important to employees: when a company fails to tackle one, it must focus on tackling the other.

There is already a talent shortage in the UK, and as we continue to see the cost-of-living crisis increase, it will be interesting to see if this creates an increase in the demand for people to move abroad. Can businesses afford to continue to lose valuable people, particularly with the possibility of paying more in the long run to cover the cracks?

Businesses need to present themselves as an ‘employer of choice’ to ensure they retain staff, as well as being seen as an attractive proposition for new potential staff members on the hunt for a new role.


If you are looking for some support building your finance team in the new year, or you would like a confidential discussion around your own career, please contact [email protected].