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The UK’s Most Attractive Employers – Professionals 2020

By Universum on 30/09/2020

Is COVID-19 Forcing UK Talent Revaluate Their Future Career Plans? 

 Last week, Universum launched the findings from the UK portion of its extensive annual global survey of young professionals. This year saw more than 23,000 participating professionals from seven industries share their opinions and views on their career goals, preferences and ideal employers. Set out to track career aspirations of the nation’s talent pool, the UK’s Most Attractive Employers 2020 recognises the most coveted employers based solely on the responses collected. 

Remarkable inconsistencies between genders on what makes an employer attractive to work for 

Universum’s 40 drivers of employer attractiveness give a summarised 360-degree view of what influences employer attractiveness. This year’s results from the UK survey reveal a massive inconsistency in what drives male and female talent to choose an employer.   

While male talent have been increasingly enticed by attractive products and serviceschallenging workWork-Life balance and increased recognition; female talent have lowered their expectation over all of the drivers. Female talent are instead attracted by social responsibilityleaders who will support their developmentcompetitive base salaries, and training and continued education opportunities.   

Describing the reasons behind this trend, Universum’s UK Director, Steve Ward said “Male and female professionals have a remarkably different response during the lockdown period in the UK. Female talent are erring towards attributes that provide greater support and security while males are want to challenged, recognised and rewarded more. A fascinating piece of research which reminds us not to respond with generic messages with our employees and external talent but instead understand these notable differences.” 

Steve continued “The 2020 research shows some factors that are evident in talent expecting business to have to evolve during the COVID-recovery phase; with both men and women showing a notable rise in expectations for employers that embrace tech, innovation and offer flexible work. Perhaps, we should expect these three drivers to come to the fore during these times. What is less easy to pinpoint in Universum’s 40 drivers of employer attractiveness drivers, is the other 37.” 

What effect is COVID-19 having on British talent? 

Unlike the results collected for Universum’s student rankings released in spring, the professional ranking’s field period was conducted before and during the COVID-19, allowing us to see how the pandemic has affected the outlook of the UK’s current talent pool. 

When asked if the current COVID-19 situation would make them adapt their career plans, 35% said they were unsure, 28% said no, while the majority 35% replied yes. This is a sizeable portion of professional talent considering adapting their plans. Reasons cited include changing employers, leaving the UK, and changing industries they were hoping to have a career in.  

This falls in line with the increasing number of different employers UK talent take into consideration before finally making their final choice. In 2019 the average UK professional considered an average of 21 employers; however, in less than a year this number has increased to an average of 26 considerations. 

Explaining this increase, Universum Employer Branding Advisor, Dennis Billgren said “Wesee this trend in many other markets we survey; in fact, we saw similar gains this year when we surveyed UK students. This should underline how important it is now more than ever to be distinct and stand out from your competitors when you’re trying to attract, hire and retain critical talent. With an unstable job market and the projection of record layoffs to come this autumn, now is not the time for employers to sit back but rather see this as an opportunity for them to fill in their talent gaps.”  

The UK’s Most Attractive Employers 2020 

Given the circumstances this year’s ranking has surprisingly been relatively stable with many employers in the top ten in Business, Engineering and IT, holding on to their positions from the previous. Google, remains the key favourite for business and IT talent; however, there has been mixed outcomes for other tech employers, most notably Facebook which dropped 24 positions in the business rankings, from 13th place in 2019 to 37th this year. 

Another notable trend to come out of this year’s UK professional survey is the rise in popularity and attractiveness in public sector employers and the public sector as a whole. These were not the only UK employers to see a boost in popularity, as the top twenty on the business, engineering and IT rankings include many British employers and employers perceived to be British.  

Explaining the increase in popularity of British employers, Universum Employer Branding Advisor Karolina Edman said “D&I and gender equality are two topics that a lot of companies in the UK have started to prioritise and invest more resources into over the last couple of years. Looking at our Professional research results from 2020 we can see that a lot of British companies such as the NHS, Rolls-Royce, BBC, and Transport for London are amongst the companies that rank the highest for our D&I related attributes.  

Karolina continued “Despite this positive development there is still much to be done. Take, for example, the expected salary gap between men and women which remain around £9,500 amongst tech professionals and £7,800 for business professionals. This is a clear indication that companies need to work with gender diversity and D&I related questions continuously to minimise inequality amongst working professionals.“ 

Business Top Ten 

  1. Google 
  2. NHS 
  3. Netflix 
  4. Apple 
  5. BBC 
  6. Amazon 
  7. Civil Service 
  8. Nike 
  9. HM Revenue and Customs 
  10. John Lewis 

Engineering Top Ten 

  1. Rolls-Royce 
  2. McLaren 
  3. BAE Systems 
  4. Jaguar Land Rover 
  5. Google 
  6. Network Rail 
  7. Airbus 
  8. Aston Martin 
  9. Boeing 
  10. Siemens 

IT Top Ten 

  1. Google 
  2. Microsoft 
  3. Amazon 
  4. Apple 
  5. NHS 
  6. Netflix 
  7. Facebook 
  8. Secret Intelligence Service 
  9. IBM 
  10. BBC 

For the full list of 2020’s Most Attractive Employers in the UK please visit:


About Universum  

Universum, part of the StepStone Group, is a global thought leader in Employer Branding. With over 30 years of valuable experience in the field of employer branding, we have established ourselves in 60 markets globally, and our diverse workforce is physically present in 20 countries. We are uniquely positioned through our talent surveys to deliver key insights to recruiters about what future talent is looking for in a company. Our data-led, human and meaningful output has attracted more than 1,700 clients, including many Fortune 500 companies, as well as global media partners that publish our annual rankings and trend reports. Find out more at