Lure of a Lifestyle Economy: Workers are more likely to leave their jobs in order to enjoy the benefits of a high-demand economy, according RUTH SUDERLAND

Noel Coward once claimed that ‘work is more fun than fun’. 

It probably didn’t strike a chord with the miners and factory workers of his day, and it’s not necessarily what most people think as another Covid-blighted Christmas break limps to an end.

Many workers have resolved to improve their work lives. According to James Reed (head of Reed’s recruitment agency), employees have the advantage over their employers at the moment.

Hiring: James Reed's data suggests nearly half of employers will be looking to hire next year. Even the fear of a fresh round of curbs has not dampened the recruitment spree

James Reed’s data indicates that almost half of employers plan to look for new employees in the next year. The recruitment frenzy hasn’t been slowed by the fear of another round of curbs.

According to him, this is the best period in fifty years to search for work. According to him, employees have the final say. This includes demanding flexible working hours at home and knowing that, should one employer turn down an offer, another is waiting.

The inversion is due to the fundamental economics of demand and supply. Prior to the pandemic, there was low unemployment.

When Covid-19 took hold, there were predictions of a sharp rise in joblessness, but it didn’t happen. Long-standing shortages were exacerbated by the virus in many areas. The most well-known is that of HGV drivers.

James Reed’s data suggests nearly half of employers will be looking to hire this year. Even fear of new curbs is not stopping the recruiting frenzy.

The rising demand for labour is leading to a decrease in workforce.

This is a part of the population that predates Covid. Many EU citizens have returned home from work, regardless of whether they are affected by Brexit, Covid, and both.

People are being forced to evaluate their lives and give their career less priority due to the virus.

In the US, around 5m people have voluntarily removed themselves from the workforce in what has become known as the ‘Great Resignation’. There is a similar trend in the UK: Reed calls it the ‘Big Quit’.

Some people will view this as a positive rejection of an overworked, consumeist society. Other people may consider it an expression of self-indulgence.

There’s nothing new about wanting to work less, or to do something lower paid but more congenial. What’s different is that the pandemic has, for many, provided a financial bounty. 

More than £200billion of ‘accidental savings’ has been accumulated, mainly by better-off professionals, as a result of enforced lockdown thrift.

There are, of course, still plenty who don’t feel able to afford to take a step back, and many others who are selflessly working flat out. However, it is becoming a pre-pandemic trend that the Big Quit has embraced.

Professor Douglas McWilliams of the Centre for Economics and Business Research observed as far back as 2018 the growth in the ‘lifestyle economy’. 

Many people were leaving high-paying, but difficult jobs such as banking or law to become artists and fitness instructors.

Lifestyle economy is not for everyone. McWilliams suggests we may have foregone around 5 per cent of GDP and £36billion per annum of tax revenue in the decade leading up to his study.

I don’t miss the brutal economic climate when I was growing up in the 1980s in the North East of England, when work-life balance hadn’t been invented because people were so desperate for work, any work. No one wishes those days are over.

However, I am concerned that WFH has been elevated to the level of an individual right within Peleton-riding circles.

While work might not always be fun or more entertaining than the fun part, it is vital for any economy and individual to maintain a strong work ethic.