A comprehensive new study by PayrollPrices.com has revealed the top UK towns and cities for workers and job-seekers, with Chester, Dudley, and Warrington leading the pack, while London ranks last. The Employee Location Index 2024 provides critical insights into factors that significantly impact the quality of life and employment opportunities for residents across 80 UK locations.

Key Findings of the Employee Location Index 2024

  • London ranks 80th out of 80: Despite offering the highest median salary, London’s high living costs and long commute times significantly impact its overall ranking, placing it at the bottom of the list.
  • Top performers: Chester, Dudley, and Warrington top the index, thanks to a balanced mix of competitive salaries, manageable commute times, and high happiness and life satisfaction scores.
  • Affordable living: Cities like Dudley and Barnsley are notable for their low rent percentages relative to salary, making them attractive options for workers seeking to maximise disposable income.
  • Work-life balance in smaller cities: Cities such as Tunbridge Wells, Stirling, and Preston excel in providing a good balance of reasonable working hours and short commute times, contributing to higher happiness and life satisfaction.
  • Vibrant job markets: Wigan and Dudley lead with the highest number of job vacancies per 10,000 people, indicating robust local economies and ample job opportunities.
  • High overall contentment: Chelmsford and Cheltenham score highly in happiness and life satisfaction, reflecting strong community well-being and a high quality of life.
  • Short commute times: Locations like Milton Keynes and Darlington offer some of the shortest median commute times, enhancing work-life balance and reducing daily stress for workers.
  • Economic opportunity and quality of life: The North West of England, with cities like Chester and Warrington, consistently ranks high due to a combination of economic vitality and quality of life.

The Importance of a Balanced Work-Life Environment

The Employee Location Index 2024 evaluates towns and cities based on seven key factors: median salary, median commute time, median number of hours worked, happiness score, life satisfaction score, number of job vacancies per 10,000 inhabitants, and median rent as a percentage of salary. This comprehensive approach provides a holistic view of each location’s appeal to current and prospective employees, highlighting the importance of a balanced work-life environment.

Implications for HR Professionals

For HR professionals, these findings underscore the significance of location in talent acquisition and retention strategies. As the job market becomes increasingly competitive, understanding the factors that contribute to employee satisfaction and well-being is crucial. Cities that offer a better balance of work and life, such as those at the top of the index, are likely to attract and retain top talent more effectively.

Investment and Business Development

The report also provides essential information for businesses looking to invest or expand operations. Cities that rank highly in the index, such as Chester and Warrington, are not only attractive to employees but also offer robust economic opportunities and supportive local governments. For companies seeking new locations, these cities represent fertile ground for business development and investment.

Community and Government Support

Local leaders in high-ranking cities have expressed pride in their performance in the index and their commitment to maintaining and enhancing these qualities.

Councillor Nathan Pardoe, Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cabinet Member for Inclusive Economy, Regeneration and Digital Transformation said:

“Chester is a well-established visitor destination, with a unique history, culture and heritage that attracts tourists and residents. I’m delighted that Chester has been named as the number one city for employees and job-seekers, the recognition is well-deserved for the city and the business community that helps it thrive.”

And Sarah Moorhouse, CEO of Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said:

“The PayrollPrices.com report placing Dudley at number two […] provides a welcome opportunity to shine a light on a fact known locally in the borough but overlooked nationally, that there are fantastic opportunities offered by living in the Black Country region. […] With significant regeneration and development projects in the pipeline, 2024 is a promising time for people living in Dudley to see their surroundings improve. The extension of the Metro link with Birmingham and Wolverhampton and the planned interchange development will make Dudley more connected and open up new opportunities.”

Looking Ahead

As cities across the UK continue to develop and evolve, the findings of the Employee Location Index 2024 provide a benchmark for future progress. By focusing on factors that contribute to a high quality of life and strong economic opportunities, cities can improve their rankings and become more attractive to both employees and employers.

About PayrollPrices.com

PayrollPrices.com is dedicated to simplifying payroll solutions for businesses of all sizes. Its comprehensive network connects businesses with trusted providers, offering unbiased comparisons tailored to unique needs and budget.

For more information about the research and other resources, visit https://www.payrollprices.com/en/employee-location-index/