Workers and businesses in Britain have reached a "standstill", with creativity and careers advancement taking a back seat, according to a new report.
A survey of 2,600 UK employees found that one in four felt "stuck" in their job, partly as people put off retirement.
Professional services firm Towers Watson said its study also found that two out of five workers believed they would have to move to another organisation to further their career.
Only a third of those questioned said their company did a good job promoting the most qualified employees.
Yves Duhaldeborde, of Towers Watson, said: "The research paints a worrying picture of 'standstill Britain'. It suggests that both workers and UK plc are stuck in a rut, without the tools, inclination or support they need to progress.
"The post-recession reality is that many people have swapped ambition for stability and are choosing a steady income from their current role over aiming for promotion or looking for a new job entirely.
"We need employers to really inject innovation, creativity and confidence back into their business to ensure that employees feel assured of their career options and can break through the current ambition ceiling we're seeing."