Glassdoor's UK Job & Hiring Trends for 2020 - Glassdoor for Employers

Glassdoor Economic Research

Glassdoor's UK Job & Hiring Trends for 2020

Glassdoor job trends report 2020 uk


This year was a whirlwind for talent professionals. A perfect storm of rapidly-changing HR technology and a historically-strong job market led to one of the most difficult hiring landscapes in a generation in 2019. What’s next for talent acquisition leaders as we enter a new decade in 2020?

Today’s Battle for Top Talent

To see where we’re headed, let’s look at where we are now. Some of today’s hiring challenges, like tech talent shortages, are mostly beyond employers’ control. Candidates were in the driver’s seat in 2019, fueling a battle for top talent — especially in tech and professional services. The unemployment rate dropped to near-50- year lows in the United Kingdom, hitting 3.8 percent in 2019. And thanks to robust hiring, the number of unfilled jobs hovered near an all-time high, with more than 800,000 vacancies across the UK.

However, there are signs that the global economy is starting to slow. In the U.S., employers added 2.09 million jobs in the past year (as of September), the slowest pace in nine years. Several high-profile tech company IPOs have stumbled this year, too. The U.S. bond market has been flashing ominous recession warning signs for months. Meanwhile, the ongoing political and economic fallout surrounding Brexit continues to impact future prospects for many UK employers, and continues to cause anxiety across the continent.

Tech Changes Everything

While the economy is beyond the control of employers, the technology they use to hire isn’t. A revolution in the HR technology space is underway. Artificial intelligence has matured from a speculative future dream to a growing suite of affordable and easy-to-use HR applications. Online workplace transparency is continuing its rise around the globe, with Glassdoor’s expansion into Europe and Asia. The growth of recruiting through social media and mobile devices is pressuring more employers to re-think whether traditional hiring models are ready for the digitally-savvy candidates of the future.

What are the hiring disruptions to watch in 2020 and beyond? At Glassdoor, we have a unique vantage point with millions of company reviews, real-time job listings, salaries, and more from around the world. This year, we’ve curated a list of four HR and recruiting trends we anticipate for 2020 and what’s likely to shape the coming decade.

Trend 1: 2020 will begin a culture-first decade for employers

In August, a watershed decision regarding corporate priorities signaled a paradigm shift among some of the world’s most influential business leaders today. The Business Roundtable, a prominent group of nearly 200 CEOs from the world’s biggest brands, declared that shareholders were no longer the chief concern of today’s companies. The new mission statement — revised for the first time ever — now states that employees are the focus of the modern corporation, along with customers, suppliers, and the broader communities in which companies operate.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of this shift. This formal recognition of workplace culture in business today is one that executives can’t afford to ignore. In 2020, we expect this changing tide of CEO opinion to usher in a new wave of culture-first thinking among business leaders, elevating employee engagement to the status of core business focus for a growing number of companies.

The Culture Shift

What trends have led to this renewed focus on culture among executives? Even a decade ago, company culture was viewed by CEOs as a hard-to-measure nice-to-have. But three fundamental trends have elevated its importance in recent years:

  • First, online workplace transparency has become an accepted norm among job seekers, dramatically changing job seeker behaviour and companies’ ability to attract the talent they need. Candidates are investing more time and energy researching company culture before accepting jobs, creating a dynamic in which employers with strong workplace cultures enjoy a powerful strategic hiring advantage;
  • Second, jobs in every industry have continued to shift toward knowledge-based work over the past decade — jobs where workers are highly differentiated, and where the creativity and knowledge of one individual worker can have a huge impact on a business. This shift is happening even in non-tech fields like healthcare, transportation, and manufacturing. Businesses, especially high-performing ones, increasingly recognise that their employees are their most important asset, not buildings or machinery or software. Meanwhile, as a Glassdoor survey recently confirmed, workers increasingly prioritise company culture over compensation. That has made employee culture a non-negotiable core business issue;
  • Finally, an expansive collection of academic and private sector research in the past decade has revealed the real-world business impact of strong workplace culture. Workplace culture has been demonstrably linked to better financial performance, innovation, talent attraction, ethical workplace behaviour, customer satisfaction and more. While a decade ago there were few studies able to draw this data-driven conclusion, today there are hundreds — an overwhelming intellectual shift that has changed the minds of CEOs about the deep impact of company culture on businesses.


Company culture was once seen as a difficult-to-measure concept. But that’s no longer the case. This year, Glassdoor and the MIT Sloan Management Review launched the Culture 500, which analyses the workplace culture of 500 major employers using machine learning and the text of real-world Glassdoor reviews.

This powerful tool allows even the most skeptical CEOs to easily understand and benchmark their company’s culture against others in their industry. This measurement takes place along nine dimensions, including respect, innovation, customer orientation, and performance. We believe data-driven tools like these will help propel a culture-first revolution among CEOs in 2020 and beyond.


What Drives Culture

A common misperception is that focusing on employee culture means offering expensive workplace perks like onsite gyms, free meals, and unlimited time off. But Glassdoor research shows otherwise: being a culture-first organisation isn’t about perks, but about articulating a clear mission that resonates with employees’ own aspirations and fuels their best performance.

In our five-country study of what drives employee satisfaction, we consistently found three things matter most for long-term employee satisfaction on Glassdoor:

  • A workplace with a clear mission connecting employees’ daily work to a broader social purpose and positive change in the world around them
  • High-quality senior leaders who are inspiring, empathetic, and competent
  • A set of clearly-defined pathways upward for workers, so that jobs become a journey to the next rung of employees’ career ladder

There has been a seismic shift in CEO opinion about the importance of individual talent and employee motivation in recent years. Employee culture is becoming a core business issue in a growing number of industries. In the wake of the Business Roundtable’s recent shift toward employee focus among leading companies, we expect to see more CEOs and talent attraction professionals embracing this culture-first business strategy in 2020 and beyond.

Trend 2: Employers will further prioritise diversity and inclusion

In the last few years, the conversation around workplace diversity and inclusion has intensified and reached new prominence. This has been fueled by a variety of factors, including the #MeToo movement, expansion of gender pay gap disclosure policies in the United Kingdom, and rising concern about a lack of diversity in tech and C-suites across the economy. More companies this year finally got serious about cultivating more diverse and inclusive workplaces. In a recent Glassdoor survey 64 percent of workers said their company is investing more in diversity and inclusion than in prior years.

In 2020 and beyond, as companies continue to build action oriented diversity and inclusion teams, we expect to see a wave of hiring for leaders and managers that will help carry forward the mission of building a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Staffing Up

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) programmes have been around for decades. But recently we’ve begun to see more UK employers step up investments in D&I as a core business function. To do that, companies need expert help to lead these initiatives. It’s an effort we’re increasingly seeing and is a sign that companies are doubling down financially on efforts to recruit, hire and retain skilled talent who can move the needle on companies’ diversity.

In the UK, hiring demand for D&I-related roles surged by 106 percent from last year, according to new Glassdoor research. Employers around the world are waking up to the need for robust diversity and inclusion efforts in today’s economy, and are investing in the top talent to deliver on these programs.

An Attractive Role

The rising interest in hiring D&I roles by employers is also matched by growing job seeker interest in these positions. Our research shows that more job seekers are looking for D&I-related job opportunities today, with searches up 19 percent in the UK. Given that there’s an average 1.6 job seekers in the UK, respectively, for each open D&I-related role today, it’s good news for both job seekers and companies hoping to staff up D&I teams in 2020 and beyond. What are the types of D&I talent employers need to hire? They range from program directors to specialised recruiters. As of August 2019, the most common D&I roles hiring on Glassdoor included:

  • D&I Director
  • D&I Program Manager
  • D&I Manager
  • D&I Specialist
  • D&I Coordinator
  • Chief Diversity Officer
  • Diversity Recruiter
  • D&I Consultant
  • Dean of Diversity & Inclusion
  • Diversity Sourcer

Big Companies Lead, For Now

Until now, most investments in hiring for D&I-related roles have come from very large companies. Our research found that two-thirds of job openings in diversity and inclusion today are at employers with more than 1,000 employees. The reason is simple: larger employers are subject to more public and regulatory scrutiny, and also have more specialised workforces, allowing them to invest in dedicated diversity and inclusion teams.

In 2020 and beyond, however, we expect more mid-sized employers to begin making investments in diversity and inclusion teams. This will be fueled by the need to compete for candidates who increasingly seek out companies with these programs.

Big changes have taken place in the last decade. Far more public discussion has taken place on the need to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces. That momentum will spill into 2020 and beyond. As many companies have learned over the last decade, words without action typically don’t lead to change. We expect the tide to turn in 2020, with more companies putting their money where their mouths are by adding key D&I-focused employees in order to drive lasting change in their workplaces.

Trend 3: Recruiters will adapt as 65+ Baby Boomers become the fastest-growing workforce.

The fastest-growing segment of the labour force in the coming decade isn’t millennials or the newest band of Gen Z workers. It’s aging Baby Boomers. This demographic of age 65+ workers are working longer than past generations and, estimates show, aren’t going anywhere. They are healthier, work in physically less demanding jobs, and are more in need of retirement income than previous generations — all forces which are keeping older people in the workforce, longer.

A “gray wave” of senior citizens will be impacting the workforce in coming years. In the UK, the 65+ population is expected to grow by nearly 60 percent over the next 25 years, faster than any other demographic group.

Senior citizens today are healthier, more engaged, and working longer than past generations. But few employers today are well-positioned to make the most of this growing talent pool. Most talent attraction efforts today are focused on the hiring needs of tech-savvy Gen Z and millennial workers, rather than experienced seniors. In 2020 and beyond, we expect to see a dramatic shift in recruiting focus, with more strategies aimed at attracting the booming 65+ workforce and using it to companies’ strategic advantage.

With Age Comes Opportunity

There are many benefits to tapping the rising pool of 65+ talent. Many experienced workers have rich institutional knowledge and professional contacts that are hard to find among younger talent. Despite the perception of younger workers being more knowledge-agile and tech-oriented, many employers find older workers are just as open to making investments in continuous learning and upskilling as their younger peers, if given similar access. A workforce that is more age-diverse can also help boost “cognitive diversity,” drawing in valuable diverse viewpoints that research shows often drive more team creativity and innovation.

Cultural Challenges

This historic surge of 65+ workers in the coming decades is also likely to surface new challenges — most importantly, rising ageism in the workplace — that employers will be under increasing pressure to combat. According to a Glassdoor survey, 39 percent of employed adults in the UK have witnessed or experienced ageism in the workplace. Although employers around the globe have tackled important issues of gender identity and ethnic diversity in the workplace in recent years, the issue of age bias has gotten much less attention — something we expect to change in 2020 and beyond.

A common myth that fuels ageism in many workplaces is that by delaying retirement, older workers may be hurting the career advancement of younger workers, blocking their path to promotion. For example, a recent Associated Press survey showed that younger workers have a much more negative view than older workers of employees extending their time in the workforce; 50 percent of older employees viewed seniors working longer as positive for workers, while just 30 percent of younger workers agreed.

In reality, research shows that young workers have little to fear from older workers staying in the workforce longer. Using data from 1977 to 2011, a study from Stanford’s Institute for Economic Policy Research shows no evidence that younger workers’ opportunities were diminished by older workers staying in the workforce longer. In particular, the data show that extended senior citizen employment had no impact on youth job opportunities or wages. “If anything,” the researchers summarised, “the opposite is true.” That’s an important message for HR teams to communicate to younger workers in the coming decade.

Learning & Inclusion Are Key

The best way to prepare both seasoned workers and newer generations in the coming decade is through investments in learning and development. These efforts help workers of all ages keep skills fresh, promote a lifetime of learning, and help older workers adapt to the fast pace of today’s technical innovation. Employers who invest in relevant, accessible learning programs in 2020 and beyond will be best positioned to attract, retain and benefit from the aging workforce of tomorrow.

As employers brace for the coming “grey wave” in the workforce, we expect to see more HR leaders rethinking what the “worker of today” looks like. Talent pools in the coming decade will be more diverse than ever — not just in terms of gender and ethnicity, but also age and experience. Employers who broaden their definition of inclusivity to welcome older workers, and develop the learning programs to make the most of the 65+ talent pool, will enjoy a strategic hiring advantage in 2020 and beyond.

Trend 4: Brexit will threaten tech hiring in the UK

Depending on how, or when, it’s done, the United Kingdom’s planned departure from the European Union may have a dramatic impact on UK hiring and talent attraction in 2020 and beyond. While the specifics of Brexit are still subject to debate, we expect its attendant uncertainty to have an important business impact. If and when Brexit occurs, the aftermath and any changes in immigration rules will affect UK employers— particularly those struggling to fill in-demand tech roles, which are disproportionately filled by globally-mobile candidates working outside their country of citizenship.

Job Fears and Brain Drain

According to a recent Glassdoor survey, 40 percent of employees in the UK say that Brexit has resulted in their company cutting jobs. Meanwhile, UK employers fear a possible tech “brain drain” following a hard Brexit. Another recent survey of 1,000 UK business leaders by Salesforce found more than half of employers surveyed said they believe the country is at risk of a brain drain after Brexit, particularly for tech talent. Severing the decades old UK-EU relationship will likely erect new immigration barriers for skilled workers, making it much harder for the world’s top software engineers and other tech talent post-Brexit to live and work in the UK.

These looming questions about the impact of Brexit on jobs and hiring have spurred a growing climate of uncertainty in the UK. According to the Decision Maker Panel, which surveys a nationally representative sample of around 8,000 UK financial officers from small, medium and large companies, business uncertainty from Brexit is on the rise. The nearby figure shows the share of survey respondents who said Brexit was among the top 3 current sources of uncertainty they’re struggling with — hitting 57 percent in August 2019.

Other surveys show most UK employers today are not yet prepared for the new immigration rules that may accompany Brexit.

A recent survey of over 2,100 employers by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that more than half of UK employers had no knowledge of government plans for post-Brexit immigration rules, and only 7 percent had detailed knowledge of the latest proposals. We expect this to become the single biggest issue facing talent attraction professionals in the UK’s tech and professional services sectors in 2020.

The Costly Unknown

When it comes to business, uncertainty itself can be extremely harmful. It makes planning and investment more difficult. It discourages companies from taking risks and making long-term plans. And it diverts executives’ time and energy toward bracing for worst-case contingencies rather than working toward their core business goals.

There’s growing evidence that Brexit-related uncertainty is already hurting UK employers. A recent working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research in the U.S. found that Brexit anticipation has reduced investment spending by British firms by about 11 percent since the original June 2016 Brexit vote. It found the Brexit process has hurt UK workforce productivity by between 2 and 5 percent, mostly due to companies diverting more time to Brexit-related planning. According to the study, Brexit has also led to a large and long-lasting increase in business uncertainty in the UK.

The Path Ahead

In 2020, we expect to see two main responses to Brexit-related hiring challenges by UK employers. First, we anticipate a greater interest in remote and flexible work arrangements, as hiring managers struggle to relocate in-demand talent to UK office locations. Employers’ Brexit-related immigration challenges will further accelerate the already growing trend toward remote work, which has been fueled in recent years by improved instant messaging and video conferencing tech in the workplace.

Second, we expect UK-based employers to shift their focus to cities outside the UK for tech-related hiring. Since major cities like Dublin, Amsterdam and Paris — all easily accessed from London — will remain in the EU, employers can still take advantage of more flexible intra-EU immigration rules from there. Although splitting up company workforces geographically has many disadvantages, it still may outweigh the high costs and uncertainty posed by immigration policies in a post-Brexit world. That’s especially true for highdemand tech roles, a need met today by hiring talent based outside the UK.

Holistically, the UK economy is strong and most UK employers will emerge from Brexit largely unscathed. However, we expect big changes in how UK-based employers cultivate new talent and navigate post-Brexit immigration policies in today’s increasingly global high-skilled workforce.


Today’s hiring market presents more challenges to talent professionals than ever before. Workplaces are becoming more transparent, and new technologies are changing how companies find, hire, and retain talent. While rapidly changing HR technology has sparked anxiety among some talent professionals, it also presents immense opportunities for employers in the coming decade.

The choice of where to work is one of the most important decisions in most peoples’ lives. The job market today is doing a better job of matching people with their best possible career opportunities than ever before. However, the same technology that’s making job markets work more effectively is also rapidly changing the future of work for many jobs themselves -- with growing AI and automation impacting managers and HR professionals today, as well as employees.

After a long period of economic growth and relative stability and with unemployment rates still at near-historic lows, there are signs of a slowing global economy. With today’s rapidly changing HR tech landscape comes new challenges as well. That makes 2020 an opportune time for employers to position themselves to benefit from the hiring trends we’ve presented — and to invest in workplace culture today while the economic times are good.