Employees prizing flexibility in wake of pandemic

A third of UK staff would look for a new job if their employer didn’t allow the working environment of their choice, according to a new report out today.

UK professional services consultancy Barnett Waddingham is behind the survey, which has found that employees expect the freedom to work how they want after the pandemic.

Of the 33 per cent that would seek a new job if their organisation wouldn’t allow the working environment they wanted, 23 per cent would bring it up with senior leadership, and if nothing changed, would look for a new job or plan to hand in their notice.

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Furthermore, 11 per cent would immediately look for a new job or plan to leave if they weren’t allowed to work how they wanted.

Employers are being discouraged from adopting blanket ‘back to the office’ or ‘only work at home’ policies. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

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When it comes to challenging employers that aren’t supportive of flexibility, employees at smaller companies are much more likely to feel confident in doing so. Three quarters of workers at firms with ten to 49 staff would take some sort of action, be it bringing it up with senior leadership, or hunting for a new job, compared to 57 per cent of employees at companies with more than 5,000 staff.

Younger workers are also far more likely to feel confident challenging their employer or taking matters into their own hands, at three quarters of those aged 18 to 24 compared to 57 per cent of those aged 46 to 64.

David Collington, associate and head of benefit consulting at Barnett Waddingham, said the risks of not adopting flexibility for the retention of staff “are starting to rise to the surface as we begin to move out of lockdown for good”.

He added: “Employee sentiment is crystal clear; adopt hybrid working for the future, or people will happily move somewhere where they can work how they like. 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.”

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