Most business owners expect employees to be back working in person full time a year from now but employees want to retain flexibility with where and when they work.
According to Nationwide’s most recent Agency Forward survey, about half of business owners and employees said they are working full time in person, and more expect their workforces to do the same next year. However, about a third of these business owners are worried how such an announcement would affect retention. Flexibility appears to be important to younger workers, especially. Of Gen Z employees, 62% would consider leaving an employer based solely on return-to-work plans. About 50% of Millennials would do the same, according to the survey.
“Three-quarters of U.S. workers received flexibility with how and when they worked during the pandemic, and of those who didn’t have flexibility, 42% considered leaving their jobs as a result,” said Linda Stueber, senior vice president for Commercial Lines at Nationwide. “Employers who are able to demonstrate continued flexibility and personalization for employees in their work will be most successful in today’s competitive labor market.”
Business-owner wariness to announce plans despite their desires to get back to full-time, in-person work may be understandable coming off of the so-called Great Resignation, which appears to be cooling. According to survey responses, only 4% of employees said they started a new job over the last six months and few business owners reported increased resignations during the same time. Interestingly, 30% of business owners said employees left because they wanted to pursue a passion and 28% believed employees were burnt our didn’t have enough flexibility. However, employees said they sought a new job for more security, a better cultural fit, or a more competitive financial incentives.
Nearly 70% of employees consider flexibility when evaluating job, but only 36% of business now offer employees a choice of where or when to work. About 30% said they have no plans to consider flexibility, including 43% of small-business owners, according to the survey of 1,000 employees in an office setting, 400 independent insurance agents, 400 middle-market business owners, and 399 small-business owners.
“With work from home, work from office and dozens of hybrid work options in between likely to remain part of the modern work environment, it’s a good time for employers to really think about the kinds of work that can be done in an office and what can be done remotely,” added Stueber. “Having this clarity and looking for ways to provide flexibility can help business owners attract and retain employees and keep their long-term business plans on track.”
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