The Great Resignation: one in five heritage organisations are currently struggling to retain staff

24 January 2023

Four in five heritage organisations are concerned about recruitment and retention of staff over the next 12 months

New research1 from specialist heritage insurer Ecclesiastical has revealed one in five (21%) heritage organisations are currently struggling to attract and retain staff. Of those heritage organisations that are struggling to recruit, high salary demands are believed to be the top reason for staffing challenges.

The survey of 500 decision makers working for heritage organisations in the UK discovered four in five are concerned about being able to recruit and retain staff (78%) and volunteers (79%) over the next 12 months.

With rising inflation and the soaring cost of living, Britain’s heritage organisations are having to work harder to retain their staff and volunteers.

The heritage sector is taking proactive steps to attract and retain staff. Seven in 10 (70%) heritage organisations now have an increased focus on staff wellbeing.

More than half of the heritage organisations surveyed are reassessing and increasing salaries (53%) and ensuring they have better incentives for staff (52%) such as private health insurance. A third have also introduced more flexible ways of working (34%) including hybrid working and flexible hours.

Last year, York Museums Trust2 closed all of its sites and paused behind-the-scenes activities for a week in support of staff health and wellbeing.

Faith Kitchen, Customer Segment Director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “As the UK’s leading insurer of Grade I listed buildings, we’re passionate about protecting Britain’s heritage. Attracting and retaining staff is a key risk for heritage organisations to manage to ensure they have adequate staffing levels. With rising inflation and as the cost of living soars many are reassessing their career choices. Our research shows heritage organisations are taking proactive steps to attract and retain talent and the majority now have an increased focus on staff wellbeing.”

Ecclesiastical recently launched its Heritage Risk Barometer 2022 which explores the top risks within the heritage sector and focuses on key areas of concern including the impact of the cost of living crisis, attracting local visitors, the recruitment crisis, and responding to climate change.

View The Heritage Risk Barometer 2022

1 The survey was commissioned by Ecclesiastical Insurance and conducted by OnePoll with 500 decision makers in UK heritage organisations. 100 museums, 100 galleries, 100 theatres, 50 heritage hotels, 50 castles or palaces, 50 stately homes and / or gardens and 50 other heritage organisations. Between 27 June 2022 and 13 July 2022.

2 Staff health and wellbeing shown to be at the heart of York Museums Trust. All staff to benefit from a week’s holiday in early January and encouraged to rest and recuperate | York Museums Trust