Over 38 million workers will cut their jobs in 2021, creating a labor shortage that is giving workers more leverage than ever. The challenge for employers in 2022 is attracting and retaining employees. Study after study shows that work flexibility is a crucial managerial strategy for retaining and recruiting loyal employees. To combat stress and burnout, employees are prioritizing their mental health more than ever, and flexible working hours are high on the list to achieve a healthy work-life balance. A recent Flexjobs study of 2,202 employees found that 25% of employees quit their job and 41% gave the reason for not allowing flextime. Another 30% are stuck in jobs they don’t like and want to quit.
Work inflexibility drives The Great Resignation, although research continues to show that work flexibility is the future of work and one of the top predictors of employee engagement and satisfaction and the company’s bottom line. A study by Skynova asked a mix of over 1,000 employees and employers about flexible working hours. Here are some of the key takeaways.
- Of the remote workers surveyed, 65.4% had flexible working hours.
- Almost half of the employees said that flexible working hours were more important than their salary.
- Almost four out of five remote workers with inflexible schedules wanted to leave their current job.
- Over 36% valued their flexible schedule more than PTO, and almost half said a flexible schedule was more important than their salary.
- Employees with flexible hours wake up between 6am and 7am – those without wake up between 5am and 6am.
- Since most people start work between 8am and 10am, those with flexible working hours have more time for yourself in the morning.
- Flexible workers say they work fewer hours overall and think less about leaving.
“Our results show that there is a direct correlation between a flexible work schedule and a healthy, manageable daily routine,” said Joe Mercurio, project manager at Skynova. “Employees with flexible hours can wake up at a more reasonable hour and work fewer hours overall. This just goes to show that quality of work is superior to quantity of work.”
The Topia Study Adapting to Work From Anywhere.
Other studies report that inflexible leadership is the main reason for the Great Resignation. A case in point is Topia’s ‘Adapt to work from anywhere’ study, which found that office workers overwhelmingly demand flexible work arrangements – and will switch jobs to get them. The study, conducted by CITE Research on behalf of Topia, surveyed 1,481 full-time office workers between December 22, 2021 and January 11, 2022. The participants, all employed by international companies, were split evenly between the United States and the United Kingdom and included 299 HR professionals. Key findings from the 2022 Adapt Study include:
Failure to allow flexible work arrangements drives the Great Resignation
- 94% of employees agree they should be able to work from anywhere as long as they get the job done. The lack of this flexibility makes hiring and retaining employees difficult.
- A total of 29% of respondents changed jobs in 2021 and 34% plan to quit in 2022. A lack of flexibility is a key factor, and many employees are frustrated with their organization’s remote working policies.
- 41% of job changers say the ability to work from home is or was a reason for changing jobs. 35% also cited more flexibility to work remotely as a reason to find a new employer.
- 64% of those being forced to return to the office full-time say it makes them more likely to look for a new job.
- Although 82% of employers have a remote work policy, 48% of workers believe mobility policies are just to make it easier to refuse remote work requests.
Flexibility comes first when choosing an employer
- When asked what they are looking for in a new employer, respondents rank flexible working arrangements as the third most important feature – after high pay and a focus on employee well-being, but ahead of great culture, professional development opportunities, social impact and autonomy.
- 96% of employees agree that flexibility in work arrangements is important when looking for a new job.
- 56% of respondents say the flexibility to work anywhere makes for an “extraordinary employee experience.” This is related to having the right technology to work efficiently, and only then being empowered and trusted to do your job with little oversight.
For most companies, flexible working remains an unresolved compliance challenge
- In 2021, 60% of recruiters felt confident they knew where most of their employees were located. That number dropped to 46% in 2022. HR still has a blind spot in determining where employees work and for how long. The resulting tax and immigration compliance risks are significant.
- 40% of HR professionals discovered employees working outside of their home state or country.
- 66% of employees admit they don’t report all days they work outside of their home state or country.
- Nevertheless, 90% of HR managers are confident that employees will report such days themselves.
“It’s clear that remote work is here to stay, and our Adapt study suggests that as companies reject flexible working arrangements, they will lose talented employees and struggle to replace them,” said Steve Black, co-founder and chief strategy officer by Topia. “To deliver an exceptional employee experience, organizations need technology that invites employees to explore, request, and pursue remote work opportunities. Back-end compliance needs to be automated and account for employees who move frequently.”
A final warning to corporate leaders
“When you allow employee autonomy, you send a message that you respect them and trust them to do their best,” said Steve Glaser, CEO of ComfortZones Digital. “The more you champion autonomy, the more employees will feel like they are in control of their work, and the more ownership and accountability they will demonstrate.” But many leaders ignore this expert advice and data analysis used in retention and recruiting staff could help. “An incredible 90% of workers agree flexible working hours help retain employees, but only half of employers agree offering this benefit helps retain employees,” said Joe Mercurio, who cautioned, “It could It’s about time employers start listening to employees, as 78% of workers with rigid hours are considering finding another job.”
According to Bjorn Reynolds, CEO at Safeguard Global, many companies confuse flexible working policies with the provision of remote or hybrid working options and don’t think beyond location offerings. “To be competitive in the global marketplace, employers must enable both local and international employees to work the way they want and respect the cultural norms in their communities – including flexibility in schedules, pay structures and different work styles,” he said.