Over 38 million workers quick their jobs in 2021, causing a labor shortage that’s giving workers more leverage than ever. The challenge for employers in 2022 is how to attract and retain employees. Study after study shows that work flexibility is a crucial leadership strategy to retain and recruit loyal employees. To combat stress and burnout, employees are prioritizing their mental health more than ever, and flexible work schedules are at the top of the list towards achieving a healthy work-life balance. A recent study of 2,202 employees by Flexjobs found that 25% of employees quit their jobs and 41% gave not allowing flexible schedules as the reason. Another 30% are stuck in jobs they dislike and want to quit.
The Skynova Study
Work inflexibility is driving The Great Resignation, despite the fact that research continues to show that work flexibility is the future of work and one of the most important predictors of employee engagement and satisfaction and the company’s bottom line. A study by Skynova surveyed a mix of over 1,000 employees and employers regarding flexible work schedules. Here are some of the key findings.
- Of the remote employees surveyed, 65.4% had a flexible work schedule.
- Nearly half of employees said a flexible schedule was more important than their salary.
- Almost four out of five remote workers with inflexible schedules were looking to leave their current job.
- Over 36% valued their flexible schedule more than PTO, and nearly half said having a flexible schedule is more important than their salary.
- Employees with flexible schedules wake up between six and seven a.m.—those without wake up between five and six am.
- With most people starting work between eight and 10 a.m., those withflexible work hours have more time in the mornings for themselves.
- Employees with flexible schedules say they work fewer hours overall and think less about leaving.
“Our findings show that there is a direct correlation between a flexible work schedule and a healthy, manageable daily routine,” said Joe Mercurio, project manager for Skynova. “Employees with flexible schedules are able to wake up at a more reasonable hour, and they end up working fewer hours overall. This just goes to show that work quality is superior to work quantity.”
The Topia ‘Adapt To Work From Everywhere’ Study
Other studies report that inflexible leadership is the main reason for The Great Resignation. Case in point is the “Adapt to work from everywhere” study by Topia that found office workers overwhelmingly demand flexible work arrangements—and will change jobs to get them. Conducted by CITE Research on behalf of Topia, the study surveyed 1,481 full-time office workers between December 22, 2021 and January 11, 2022. The participants, all employed by international firms, were evenly split between the United States and United Kingdom and included 299 HR professionals.Key findings of 2022 Adapt study include the following:
Failure to allow flexible work arrangements is driving The Great Resignation
- 94% of employees agree that they should be able to work from anywhere, so long as they get their work done. Failure to provide that flexibility makes hiring and retention more difficult.
- A total of 29% of respondents changed jobs in 2021, and 34% are planning to resign in 2022. Lack of flexibility is a major factor, and many employees are disappointed with their organization’s remote work policies.
- 41% of job switchers say flexibility to work from home is or was a reason to change jobs. 35% also cited more flexibility to work remotely as a reason to find a new employer.
- 64% of those forced to return to the office full-time say this makes them more likely to look for a new job.
- Although 82% of employers have a remote work policy, 48% of employees feel that mobility policies are in place just to make remote work applications easier to reject.
When choosing an employer, flexibility is a top priority
- Asked what they look for in a new employer, respondents rank flexible work arrangements as the third most important attribute—after high pay and a focus on employee well-being but above great culture, professional development opportunities, social impact, and autonomy.
- 96% of employees feel that flexibility in working arrangements is important when seeking a new job.
- 56% of respondents say the flexibility to work in whatever location they want defines an “exceptional employee experience.” This tied with having the right technology to work efficiently and came second to being empowered and trusted to do their job with little supervision.
For most organizations, flexible work remains an unsolved compliance challenge
- In 2021, 60% of HR professionals were confident they knew where most of their employees were located. That number fell to 46% in 2022. HR still has a blind spot in determining where employees are working and for how long. The resulting tax and immigration compliance risks are significant.
- 40% of HR professionals discovered employees working from outside their home state or country.
- 66% of employees admit to not reporting all the days they work outside their home state or country.
- Nevertheless, 90% of HR professionals are confident that employees will self-report such days.
“It’s clear that remote work is here to stay, and our Adapt study suggests that if companies say no to flexible work arrangements, they will lose talented people and struggle to replace them,” said Steve Black, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Topia. “To provide an exceptional employee experience, organizations need technology that welcomes employees to explore, request and pursue remote work opportunities. The back-end compliance needs to be automated and accommodating of employees who change locations frequently.”
A Final Warning To Company Leaders
“When you allow employee autonomy, you send a message that you respect and trust them to do their best,” said Steve Glaser, CEO of ComfortZones Digital. “The more you advocate for autonomy, the more employees feel in control of their work and the more ownership and accountability they will demonstrate.” But many leaders are turning a deaf ear to that expert advice and data analytics that could help with retention and recruitment. “A whopping 90% of employees agree that flexible work schedules help with employee retention, but just half of employers think offering this perk helps retain employees,” according to Joe Mercurio, who warns, “It might be time for employers to start listening to employees though, because 78% of employees with rigid schedules are considering finding another job.”
According to Bjorn Reynolds, CEO at Safeguard Global, many companies mistake flexible work policies as just providing remote or hybrid work options and don’t think past location offerings. “To compete in the global market, employers need to enable both domestic and international employees to work in any way they choose and address the cultural norms within their respective environments—including flexibility with schedules, compensation structures and varying workstyles,” he said.