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  • Banking sector employee sentiment plummets to a three year low across the UK
  • Retail workers emerge as the biggest winners in terms of employee sentiment in 2022
  • New findings by stakeholder intelligence firm alva[1] reveal 2022 is a year of change for employers as they try to hold on to top talent
  • 7 in 10 employees feel confident about moving to a new job in the next few months2
  • Job openings hit a new record of 1.29 million3

A new report by stakeholder intelligence firm alva has revealed the biggest winners and losers from the last three years when it comes to positive employer and employee sentiment in the UK.  As the UK begins to climb out from the pandemic and find a new way forward, the banking sector scored the lowest in sentiment scores for the last two years, with scores plummeting drastically across the sector in 2022.  Meanwhile retail workers have emerged as the biggest winners overall when it comes to positive employee sentiment.

Amid the backdrop of The Great Resignation, alva’s Stakeholder Intelligence Index: Employment report identifies the top drivers of sentiment amongst employees and employers, quantifying what talent really cares about in the companies they are – and could be – working for.   alva analysed sentiment activity in six key employment areas in the UK: telecoms, retail, utilities, professional services, banking and defence.  The data spanned pre pandemic analysis from November 2019 to date, enabling alva to quantify the sentiment levels across the six key employment areas from 2020 – 2022.

The three year tracking data has been analysed using alva’s own stakeholder sentiment methodology including millions of media content pieces across traditional and social media, NGO reports and regulatory data. The dataset is analysed using alva’s NLP sentiment scoring methodology, and each article was coded with a climate issue credited as the primary motivation behind a given protest. alva’s scores are ranked between -100 and 100.

Winners and losers

The insight reveals that the banking sector ranked at number 4 in 2020 with a sentiment of score of +24 before falling to the bottom of the leaderboard with a score of -24 in 2021 and then further steep decline in 2022 to -48 – the lowest score across any sector over the last three years.  Banking therefore currently ranks as the sector with the least positive employee sentiment in 2022 according to alva’s data and analysis. By contrast, retail workers have risen in positive sentiment activity continuously over the last three years, rising from +27 on alva’s sentiment scale in 2020 to +43 in 2021 and +59 in 2022. With the likes of major brands such as Aldi and Lidl creating new supermarkets across the UK resulting in the creation of up to 4,000 jobs, such retail expansions inject positivity into the sentiment analysis.

Table: UK sector rankings and sentiment scores from 2020 – 2022

2020 sectors and rankings 2020 sentiment score 2021 sectors and rankings 2021 sentiment score 2022 sectors and rankings 2022 sentiment score
1 Telecoms 32 1 Retail 43 (+16) 1 Retail 59 (+16)
2 Retail 27 2 Utilities 40 (+13) 2 Defence 40 (+13)
2= Utilities 27 3 Telecoms 28 (-4) 3 Utilities 34 (-6)
3 Professional Services 25 4 Defence 27 (+7) 4 Telecoms -4 (-32)
4 Banking 24 5 Professional Services 25 (-) 5 Professional Services -12 (-36)
5 Defence 21 6 Banking 24 (-) 6 Banking -24 (-48)

Source: alva data from November 2019 to date

Employer concerns for 2022

Further analysis of the top drivers of sentiment amongst employees and employers in 2022 indicate that the impact of Covid-19 and The Great Resignation has created a seismic shift across the UK employment landscape.  Against a wider backdrop of growing worker confidence and job openings rising to hit a new record high of 1.29 million in the three months to March3, the analysis indicates that key areas of employer concern in 2022 are likely to be:

  • Employee power shift: The general increase in flexibility, compensation, and overall satisfaction through wellbeing at work reflects the balance of power shifting away from employers as Covid-19 rewrites the rulebook on the expectations of workers.
  • Threats of industrial action: Discussion of industrial action has increased in the UK in 2022 as workers demand more favourable conditions
  • Employee activism and unity: Particularly in the case of Amazon, coordinated activism between international unions around Black Friday builds a more unified voice, with employees’ attempts to unionise highly visible in 2022
  • Job creation: Job creation and job losses are a key talking point for 2022 (overtaking remote working as the key topic in 2021), generating the highest positive impact, with employee pay also remaining consistently high throughout the study period.

Alberto Lopez Valenzuela, Founder and CEO, alva, commented:Positive employment sentiment in the banking sector is clearly at a drastic low, falling steeply in sentiment scores over the last two years. Which obviously begs the question, what is happening within the sector that is impacting worker sentiment so drastically? If you compare what is happening in banking versus the retail sector for example, the differences in positive employment sentiment are rather stark, they couldn’t be more different.

“At the same time however, the Covid-19 pandemic has also created one of the biggest employment shifts in history.  Employees in other sectors are energised by the wider improvement in employee wellbeing and work flexibility that the pandemic has created for them. They have become more confident in having their grievances heard and stating exactly what they want and what they expect from their employers, and they have no problem with walking away from an employer now if they feel that they aren’t getting what they deserve and believe to be fair. This confidence and decisive action have created a job market with a real power shift, and employees and not employers are now in the driving seat. This in turn has led to an employment landscape where whole swathes of large employers in many sectors are struggling to fill roles.  Choice is definitely on the side of the employee right now.

“What we know is this – employers need to listen to what is happening, what employees are asking for and what their drivers are if they want to hang on to their top talent – or risk them walking out the door.  Similarly, we are seeing a rise in industrial action across different sectors, and the rest of 2022 could easily see more of this happening. It has never been more important or more timely for employers to be in touch with the sentiment of the people they are trying to reach, and hold on to, the most.”

About alva

alva enables corporates, advisors and investors to make better decisions with Stakeholder Intelligence. We analyse millions of alternative data, including media, regulator, investor, government, public and NGO sources to help our clients better understand and connect with their stakeholders. alva combines AI technology with sector experts to provide a fully integrated corporate solution for ESG, risk, reputation, media and corporate board teams.

[1] Data from alva: Nov 2019 – to date

2Statistic from Randstad November 2021

3ONS data April 2022

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