The Changing UK Tenant: Britain’s upwardly mobile workforce

The Changing UK Tenant: Britain’s upwardly mobile workforce

For millions of young British workers embarking on their first tentative footsteps into the job market, things were all once straightforward.

Find a job. Establish yourself in the company. Work towards successive promotions up the organisation’s hierarchy. Then, after decades of loyal service, you’d retire, complete with an engraved clock and handshake from the boss.

But workers in the UK today now follow a different path.

We’ve already established that Generation Y, Britain’s young workers that are now the tenants living in your investment property, are putting off marriage and having children much later than their parents did, and it’s clear that a new set of attitudes and values are at play in the workplace, too.

So if Britons today aren’t settling down in their careers either, what are they doing instead? And how does this impact on the kind of things they now want from their accommodation?

The decline of the one-job worker

Their parents were lifers; to them the notion of spending their entire career with one employer was the status quo. But for Generation Y, this is almost an unfathomable ideology.

Research by insurance provider LV found:

  • Those entering the UK workforce can now expect to have an average of nine jobs across a 48-year working life
  • Employees now change roles every five years
  • Just 1.5% of workers will hold the same job for their entire career, making ‘the lifer’ “virtually extinct”
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Britons are now working for longer. Retirees living in the UK today had an average age of 59 when they called time on their careers, but most people currently working will be doing so until 66 years old. A further 23% will also work past 70 years old or may never retire.

And it seems that for Generation Y and the rest of the country’s workforce, they’d rather spend their long working lives striving to earn more money and advancing their careers, rather than being content with sitting in the same office in the same organisation for nearly five decades.

“The norm these days is to change one’s job every few years, while to stay for 30 years is considered a form of institutionalism.” Dr Harry Freedman – Guardian

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The rise of the career-changer

It’s not just job roles that your tenants now look to swap with a rising degree of regularity, either.

While changing careers for yesterday’s worker may have seemed unimaginable, an unrealistic move shrouded in uncertainty and risk, it’s now something that a large proportion of workers today harbour ambitions to pursue.

Over half of Britain’s workforce (54%) wishes it could switch careers, with the greatest share of these people (72%) young workers aged 25-34.

Indeed the research, undertaken by Standard Life, also found that six out of 10 workers (57%) have, on at least one occasion, considered starting their own business. Once again it was the Generation Y demographic that accounted for the largest proportion of these people, as 25-34 year olds were significantly more motivated to take the leap of faith and go it alone.

The willingness to go where the work is

Home may have been where the heart is for your previous tenants, but for Generation Y home is defined by the locality of career opportunities.

According to a survey by global recruitment firm Kelly Services, 77% of UK workers are willing to consider relocation to a new city for work.

And figures from the Office of National Statistics appear to show that this consideration is an ever growing reality for many British workers:

  • 85 million residents moved from one local authority in England and Wales to another between July 2013 and June 2014
  • This represents a 5% increase over the previous year and a 12% uplift from 2002

What’s more, it’s young people that are doing the most relocating.

Total number of relocations into local authorities in England and Wales by age based on mid-2014 population figures – June 2014

Total number of relocations into local authorities in England and Wales by age based on mid-2014 population figures – June 2014

(Source: ONS)

Of course it would be wrong to attribute all of these moves to career relocations for people aged between 19 and 28; for example, the 22% peak at 19-years-old is likely to be explained by the high density of students moving to attend university for the first time. But Generation Y is clearly moving more than any other demographic, as the growing desire for career progression puts further emphasis on your tenants’ need to remain flexible.

And they’re not just moving domestically either.

The openness to consider overseas relocation

Increased connectivity is bringing global businesses closer together and driving the international job opportunities available to British workers that were once few and far between.

58% of companies surveyed in a report by Aviva stated that they’re looking to relocate staff into new territories – and their workers responded in kind. Just under half of employees said they’d consider a move abroad, with 37% declaring that they’d willingly move overseas permanently.

When asked what factors make relocating to a new country attractive:

  • 67% agreed the prospect of a better climate is appealing
  • 57% agreed a better quality of life could be attained
  • 51% agreed the work-life balance could be improved

While the prospect of moving abroad during their working lives rarely crossed the minds of their parents, Generation Y has embraced this new way of working.

One in three have seen their friends or family members move abroad in recent years, and many would welcome the opportunity to do so themselves.

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Reasons for the increased mobility of Britain’s workforce:

  • Security: Generation Y has lived through the global recession. It’s taught them to be mindful of the prospect of being left to find new work in a competitive job market. Adding more roles to their CVs enables them to gather new experience, acquire more skills and set themselves apart from the competition.
  • Greater opportunities: Workers in the UK are more qualified than they ever have been. Many have skills and abilities that make them desirable to other companies (indeed those working in the finance and IT industries have the shortest job tenures in the country due to their highly sought-after skill set). If more can be gained both financially and professionally from exploring new job opportunities, more workers today are likely to pursue them.
  • The ability to ‘work anywhere’: The proliferation of technology in the workplace is bringing businesses closer together. Workers in the UK can work on a project collaboratively at the same time with colleagues on the other side of the world. Tasks can now be completed pretty much anywhere at just a click of a mouse. And this greater connectivity has naturally impacted on generational attitudes towards relocation; while it was viewed as a huge consideration for older workers, it’s less so for those entering the job market today.

Property Investor Summary: What does this mean for your investment?

Your tenants are now among the most transient workers the British workforce has ever seen. Unlike their parents, their appetite for career progression means they stay in one place for a shorter amount of time.

Generation Y does not settle at work for long periods. If better wages can be achieved elsewhere, they’ll move. If an exciting new challenge presents itself at the other end of the country or at the other end of the continent, they’ll move.

Flexibility is a necessity, not a compromise. Renting is the accommodation that fits best with Generation Y’s professional goals.

So how long will these workers want to live in your property for? They may be in one place for shorter amounts of time, but Generation Y wants more than just a roof above their heads; they require a level of comfort and sense of ownership that will make them feel settled in their home life while they work on their careers.

If the average worker changes jobs every five years, three years is arguably the required amount of time people feel they need in order to get as much as they possibly can from a single role before their minds begin to consider future endeavours.

Furthermore, with more people working from home, starting businesses from home and fully immersing themselves in the ‘work anywhere’ culture of modern business, it is crucial that your property provides reliable technology. From the fastest internet to the strongest phone reception, the technology your asset provides needs to be seamless.


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