Flexible working spurring ‘The Big Quit’

Almost half of UK office workers are prepared to look for new jobs if their current employers do not provide opportunities for flexible working, according to new research.

couple working from home
The 47% average ready to look for new jobs if flexibility is not offered, rises to 60% among staff aged between 25-34, the survey commissioned by Velocity Smart Technology found.

"People are happier with this flexible way of working with a third (34%) insisting their mental health has improved since being allowed to have more flexible working," says the Velocity report, ‘Changing Behaviours of a Flexible Workforce'.

Yet the survey found it "surprising" that almost half of UK businesses are now requiring their employees to return to the workplace, at least on a part-time basis - a move not appreciated by 32% of office workers, rising to 44 per of employees aged between 24-35.

How will businesses support their empolyees work-life balance?

Velocity said the research was designed to investigate how offices will change in 2022 and beyond, and how business leaders could support more diverse and asynchronous working practices in order to keep pace with competition and retain employees.

Anthony Lamoureux, CEO of Velocity, said: “As the research confirms, employees don’t just expect flexible working, they are actively making career changes to better suit their commitments outside of work.

"Whether that is flexible hours, locations or a mixture of both. Employees that are not offered the chance for flexible, remote or asynchronous working will walk...straight into another job.”

Rise is staff turnover as employees want a more flexible employment

The report says the survey should "raise alarm bells for businesses already scrambling to avoid the cost and disruption associated with staff turnover". It points out that companies have experienced a huge spike in job moves in recent months, with almost 70% of UK employees now saying they have the confidence to consider moving to move to a new job this year.

“Employees have rediscovered the joys of taking time to be outside during the working day, from walking the lock-down dog to managing side jobs, substantial numbers of individuals now recognise the nonsensical nature of the old nine-to-five," said Mr Lamoureux.

"It now needs to become an essential part of recruitment and retention strategies for businesses to firm up flexible employment models – or else, they may be left without an office to fill.”

Expectation for businesses to support employees work-life is growing

Writing on the HR News website last week, Mr Lamoureux accused businesses of moving at "snail's pace" when it came to tackling the strain employees have experienced over the past two years because of the pandemic.

He said businesses are now under an enormous amount of pressure to completely change the way they have been operating.

"The ‘Big Quit’ is happening today. Businesses that bury their heads in the sand will soon find office spaces empty for an entirely different reason than the pandemic," he wrote.

"Employees aren’t just interested in achieving a more favourable work-life balance anymore - they’re expecting it. Employers are no longer in the driver’s seat, and a stubbornness to change is seeing businesses lose staff and unable to attract new hires.

"A global shortage in skilled workers, especially in tech, has seen elevated salaries and benefits being thrown around like confetti. Add to this economic pressure from rising prices, inflation, and the cost of living means businesses are having to make the most of what they have right now while trying to combat employee burnout and unhappiness.

"To cope with this change, it’s businesses that have embraced the latest innovations in technology that are likely to see healthier, happier employees."
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Read more news and views from David Sapsted in the Spring 2022 issue of Think Global People.

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