Third Sector HR and Workforce Data for 2020

Key results from our People Count 2020 report – the latest HR and workforce data for the UK Third Sector.


The following statistics represent 42 UK not-for-profit organisations which encompass 43,274 staff members and 167,004 volunteers. The figures are accurate for the 2020 People Count study, which includes data from the financial year 2019/20.

The data can be seen in full in the People Count 2020 Reports.



About 75% of UK Third Sector organisations collect data on ethnicity and disability, which has been the case for the past few years according to results from the annual People Count benchmarking study.

In 2020, the study included a wider range of options for gender and sexuality questions. Around 75% of participating organisations had data collected on these new gender options.

62% of organisations had data on the new sexuality options, which is an increase from 47% who had LQBTQ+ data in 2019.


Women make up 46.8% of the total UK labour force (World Bank, 2019) and the percentage of women in the UK in senior leadership roles is 22% (2018). In the UK Third Sector, women make up 75% of the workforce and 51% of CEOs in the sector are women.

Despite women being better represented in the UK Third Sector compared to the UK as a whole, there is still a drop off at the Senior Management Team and Chief Executive level.


Gender Pay Gap

The average gender pay gap in the UK Third Sector in 2020 was 10%, an increase on 2019 which was 5.5%.

This result could be seen as surprising, considering that women make up the large majority of the workforce in the UK Third Sector, but it is true that there are more men in leadership positions in the sector.



From the statistics to come out of the People Count 2020 study, we can see that economies of scale come in to play when it comes to cost of recruitment and selection per recruit. The cost of recruitment decreases as the size of the organisation increases.


In 2020 the median number of posts remaining unfilled is 10%. This is similar to previous years and is a 1% increased from 2019.

Mental health has the highest level of percentage posts remaining unfilled, and similarly to previous years, the UK social care sector is finding recruitment difficult.


Voluntary staff turnover fell in 2020 after reaching the highest recorded by the annual People Count study in 2019. The areas where voluntary staff turnover was highest were children and young people, mental health and social care.


The People Count 2020 study found that the median cost of voluntary turnover per leaver in 2020 was £1,896.

The study also found that more than a quarter of people who leave do so within one year.



The study found that the median number of sick days taken per employee in the UK Third Sector in 2020 was 9.1.


Employee Surveys

Over the last three years, the percentage of UK Third Sector organisations undertaking people surveys has steadily increased, to 95% in 2020.



Organisations approaches to surveys have be evolving and there has been an increasing popularly of pulse surveys to compliment full surveys.



31% of organisation intend to conduct a survey every year, which is much lower than in 2019 (51%) and similar to 2018 (30%).

28% plan to conduct a people survey every two years, which is lower than 2019 (34%) and much lower than 2018 (50%).

However, 28% of organisations intend to do more than one per year, which is much higher than in 2019 (10%). Employers are more frequently listening to their people.


The Report

To see all of the results from the People Count 2020 study, download the reports.

People Count

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