Nearly half of workers might leave their jobs post-pandemic

Employees want flexible workplace options and they're willing to quit to get them, according to new research.
By: | March 16, 2021 • 2 min read
(Image: Adobe)

HR leaders mapping out return-to-workplace plans that don’t offer a hybrid option might want to reconsider those plans, new research shows.

That’s because nearly half of employees surveyed would likely leave their jobs after the pandemic if their employers don’t offer a hybrid work model, according to results from Envoy’s Return to the Workplace Report released Tuesday. While 47% said they would likely leave their jobs in that scenario, 41% said they would be willing to take a job with a slightly lower salary if it offered a hybrid work-from-home, in-office model.

Larry Gadea

“This sends an important message to HR leaders that employees are expecting significant changes from the office when they return,” said founder and CEO Larry Gadea of Envoy, a start-up workforce platform. “Employees want to be sure the workplace offers more value, flexibility, community, wellness and safety than before, especially for those who have shown that they are quite happy and productive working from home.”

The report, which examined employee attitudes about returning to offices a year after lockdowns, finds that embracing options for combining remote and in-person work and enforcing mandatory vaccinations are important to employees, making them important for employee retention, Gadea said. A majority of workers surveyed (62%) support a vaccine mandate for in-person employees, the study found, a number that was significantly higher in the technology and business sectors at 76%.

Most surveyed also worry about their health and safety upon returning to the workforce (66%) and that COVID-19 safety measures could be relaxed too soon (61%), the study found. Those fears jumped even higher among people of color, to 78%, and Gen Z employees, to 75%, the report found.

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“The data shows us that employees do want to return to the workplace, but in a way that prioritizes their need for flexibility and recognizes the pandemic’s impact on the way we work now,” Gadea said. “Many employees want the power to design a workweek that works best for them.”

Nearly half (48%) of those surveyed prefer returning to a hybrid model, but the number is higher (59%) among people of color. And interest in hybrid opportunities is growing in such fields as healthcare, construction/manufacturing, and retail and hospitality that typically require employees to be on-site. Sixty-one percent of healthcare workers, for example, said they would prefer a hybrid work option.

Overall, safety and flexibility are the reasons that office workers put the ideal number of days in the office at 3.3 per week, according to the report. And more than half, 58%, predicted positive effects from a hybrid model, with top benefits listed as spending less time and money on a commute (38%), boosting work/life balance (34%) and improving work performance (21%).

With as many as one in four employees already plans to quit their job post-pandemic citing burnout, these hybrid and safety needs of employees also are likely to be getting the attention of organizational executives.

Related: One in 4 workers plans to quit post-pandemic

“If HR leaders don’t address these new employee preferences created by the shift to remote work,” Gadea said, “they may risk losing their best employees.”

To read the full report, visit Envoy here.

Elizabeth Clarke is executive editor of Human Resource Executive. She earned a journalism degree from the University of Florida and then spent more than 25 years as a reporter and editor in South Florida before joining HRE. Elizabeth lives with her family in Palm Beach County. She can be reached at eclarke@lrp.com.