While many businesses wonder why their workplaces remain empty, a new survey shows that COVID-related concerns are not the main reason staff are dissuaded from working in the office.
Actually, they’re working from home due to the more flexible work-life balance the company claims it offers.
In reality, employees emphasize this aspect that one-quarter of employees who switched jobs did so for the ability to work from any location.
Furthermore, Baby Boomers who quit their jobs due to this flexibility did so at twice the rate of Millennials.
The survey reveals that flexibility in the workplace goes quite a long way in supporting workers’ mental wellbeing. Seventy percent of respondents claim that flexible working time and locations for work are among the most effective policies that businesses can implement to support their mental health.
The survey, conducted by The Conference Board, is its most recent workforce survey capturing the opinions of over 1,200 U.S. employees. The respondents weighed a variety of issues like career goals, the factors that drive them to explore new opportunities for employment, their views on the remote working environment, mental health, and many more.
The survey also highlighted that one out of four employees who left during the coronavirus outbreak quit for the ability to work anywhere.
Career advancement and better pay are still the most popular reasons for switching jobs, according to 37 percent and 30 percent of those who responded, respectively.
Only eight percent have found employment opportunities due to fears over vaccine requirements.
Despite years in the workplace, Baby Boomers are leaving for the freedom to work from anywhere, and almost twice the rate of their younger counterparts.
For Millennials, more confidence in the future direction of the new company (ten percent) was a compelling incentive to leave their job as the flexibility to work anyplace (9 percent)
The survey revealed that men quit their jobs in search of the flexibility of their work more than twice as often as females.
Career advancement for women was the primary driver. Higher pay, a better fit for the job, and more flexible workplace policies were much more critical for men.
“Story after story has covered the premium younger generations place on flexibility in the workplace,” said Rebecca Ray, Executive Vice President of Human Capital at The Conference Board.
“But as these survey results demonstrate, that desire is not unique to Millennials. Indeed, at more than twice the rate of their younger counterparts, Baby Boomers left their jobs for the ability to work from anywhere–whether they are working from the comfort of home…or from an RV in Yellowstone. “
The misconception that COVID is the main reason for empty offices is also debunked.
Seventy-two percent of workers cited the issue of work-life balance as the main reason for working from home. Safety and productivity were also factors.
Fifty percent of women work from home while 37 percent of men work in a hybrid or entirely in-person.
“Businesses must ensure that remote workers–many of whom are women–receive the same developmental and promotional opportunities as those who are on-site,” said Amy Lui Abel, Vice President of Human Capital Research at The Conference Board.
“Companies should be mindful of this potential pitfall, creating a level playing field for all workers as they develop their talent strategies in a world where less work is conducted in the office,” Abel added.
Is there any reason to go back to the office? The answer is the personal connection.
The survey showed that the most compelling reasons for returning to the physical workplace include connecting with team members, socializing and gathering with colleagues, brainstorming with teams, attending events and organizational activities, and connecting with the manager.
More than one in six employees, accounting for 15 percent, find no value in returning to the office.
More than half of the respondents indicated the decline of their mental health since the onset of the pandemic. More women than men have seen the deterioration of their mental health even as the pandemic slows down.
When asked what work conditions, offerings, or programs would be beneficial in supporting employee mental health, 70% answered flexible working hours and compressed week, 69% answered flexible or hybrid work schedule while working remotely garnered 63 percent.
The respondents also expressed that they would like their organization to provide the latest and diverse products that can support their mental health, namely, programs on how to thrive and flourish instead of simply building resilience (77 percent), apps to address mental health challenges of workers (55 percent), and virtual reality (VR) solutions to address mental health challenges of workers (29 percent).
“The survey also reveals that almost half of workers believe that their managers adequately address mental health concerns–but one in five do not,” said Dr. Srini Pillay, co-founder and Chief Medical Officer at Reulay, Inc. and former head of the Outpatient Anxiety Disorders Program at Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital.
“An overwhelming majority agree, however, that organizations should offer training to managers so that they can better address the sensitive mental health issues of workers.” Pillay ended.