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Third of workers will quit jobs if not offered flexibility

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26/05/2021
As many as one in three employees are prepared to look for a different job if their current employer does not provide flexibility over when and where they are expected to work.

That’s according to new research from Barnett Waddingham, which found that the new ways of working forced on businesses by the pandemic have been appreciated by staff to such an extent that they are willing to change jobs in order to keep that flexible setup.

Almost a quarter (23%) said that if their employer did not allow flexible working they would bring it up with senior management, and then head for a new job if nothing happened. A further 11% said they would immediately look for a new job if they weren’t allowed to work how they wanted.

Split the week

Just one in five of those surveyed by the firm said they were keen to work mainly in the office in future. Instead, employees are more likely to favour a split where they work mostly at home, but with some time each week in the office.

Full-time employees who have been working at home throughout the Covid-19 crisis were found to be the most keen on keeping working from home as the default for most of the week, with almost half (47%) saying this was their preference. 

Around one in 10 (12%) said they would to prefer to work only from home, while a similar proportion (10%) favour going back to working solely in the office, which Barnett Waddingham said demonstrates just how overwhelmingly in favour of a hybrid setup workers are. 

David Collington, associate and head of benefit consulting at the firm, said that flexible working had been a hot topic because of the pandemic, and argued that the risks of failing to keep some flexibility in future were clear for employers.

He added: “Employers now need to focus on gauging the views and preferences of their workforce. It’s no use adopting a blanket ‘back to the office’ or ‘only work at home’ policy. Businesses risk their employees feeling dissatisfied and disillusioned with their company, and in today’s competitive job market, the cost of this decision in recruitment and retention terms far outweighs the cost of a nuanced and flexible policy.” 

A more flexible workplace

A host of large employers have announced that they will be giving their staff more say over their working conditions in the post-pandemic world. This week accountancy firm EY announced that most of its 17,5000 staff in the UK will spend two days a week working from home, with the rest of the working week spent at the office or at a client site.

This comes off the back of the likes of PwC and Nationwide Building Society staff being given similar power over their working setup.

Recent research has also suggested that substantial numbers of workers would be happy to accept a pay cut if it meant they could move to a permanent four day working week.

However, there remain concerns over the potential impact that openly favouring more time spent working from home may have on your career. For example, there have been warnings that homeworkers are likely to be paid less, and have a smaller chance of promotion, than their peers who spend more time in the office. 

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