Almost two thirds of employees (65%) go to bed on Sunday night dreading returning to their place of work. On average, they say they feel this dread, known as the Sunday night blues, three times a month, highlighting a crisis in the UK workforce. No more keenly is this felt than on the first day back at the start of a new year. 

In fact the number of people feeling unhappy in their jobs is on the rise, increasing by 10% year on year. About 24% were unhappy in their job at the turn of the year with the same number actively seeking a new job—while another 32% are considering looking for a new position, according to a new report from Investors in People. 

Employees say their top three reasons for seeking new employment are earning more money (30%), not feeling valued (23%) and wanting a better work/life balance (22%). When it comes to keeping employees on side in their present roles, a simple thank you (14%) has been consistently appreciated over the last four years. 

However, employers must also be aware of their duty of care to their staff and that increasingly means monitoring the stress levels in their work place. Stress is a key issue for employees and despite a growing awareness and appreciation of mental health and its associated issues, 77% of employees exhibit the signs of stress while 64% reported that their sleep was affected and the same number complained about being always on duty, with work following them home.

A friendly workplace and a supportive culture are key to retaining staff. Indeed, more than half (54%) say having friends at work is important to them, while a quarter admit to staying in a job because of their friendships rather than enjoyment and 47% would rather have a friendly workplace than a 3% pay rise. 

The report also found that 24% of those who resigned did so to negotiate a better work/life balance and 19% said they have gone through the motions of resigning to force through a pay rise. Unfortunately, 20% of those who stayed found that their employers did not fulfil their end of their bargain. 

Paul Devoy, CEO Investors in People said:

At Investors in People we ask questions about work all day. To ourselves, to our colleagues and to our clients. Because the expert on work is everyone who works.

6 years into our job exodus research, we’re still hearing that people want to be told ‘thank you’ and 1 in 4 people are looking for a new job because they don’t feel valued.

‘Thank you’, something so simple, so consistently important and potentially the best retention tool we’ve got.

Doing your best work, knowing you’re in a place where you can grow. To get to the end of the day and feel like you’ve achieved something that is what it means when we invest in people’.