HR · 7 January 2016

Majority of UK workers dream of starting a business

The majority of UK professionals desire a career change

Some six out of ten UK workers have fantasised about starting out on their own in business, with the desire to change career most commonly felt amongst the younger generation of employees, a new study has found.

Pensions and savings firm Standard Life has discovered that 54 per cent of the UK workforce dream of a different line of work, rising to 72 per cent amongst 25 to 34 year olds.

However, a combination of factors is preventing workers from acting on their entrepreneurial impulses. A lack of confidence stops ten per cent of people from finding a new career path, whilst a further ten per cent say they “don’t know where to start”.

The stability of current employment prevents 11 per cent of people from starting a business, whilst a further 11 per cent feel they are too old to change career direction.

Consumer finance director at Standard Life, Julie Hutchison, argued that the constant shifting in people’s priorities is an important reason for the findings. “What motivates us and makes us happy in our job changes throughout the course of our lives,” she said.

“For some, the priority is moving up the career ladder. For others, having the security to support their family is paramount.”

The study also revealed some of the most important factors involved with job satisfaction. Over 80 per cent of respondent workers claimed to be at least partly satisfied in their employment, with job security cited as the most valued aspect of workplace happiness. Feeling valued and making a difference to people’s lives was felt by 25 per cent of workers to be key to job satisfaction, as was the value of working with friends and like-minded colleagues.

Author of “How to get a job you love”, John Lees, believes it’s always possible to change direction, regardless of what stage in their career a worker is at. “While it’s not always easy, change is certainly possible,” he said.

Lees added: “The fact that over half of us wish we could change careers is really interesting – the reasons why we want to move will depend a lot on the stage of our career, whether it’s aiming for a higher salary or doing something we feel passionate about.”

With the number of UK startups growing year-on-year, it is likely an increasing number of UK workers will feel encouraged to take the plunge. According the Federation of Small Businesses, a record 5.4m firms were set up in 2015, 146,000 more than in 2014 and 1.9m more than in 2000.

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.



Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.