Dissonance between employers’ desire to return to the status quo and changing employee expectations about work since the start of the pandemic could be behind increased employee turnover, new research shows on workplace trends.
A survey by financial services firm Findex of more than 500 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) found that more than half of businesses are concerned about their ability to retain staff over the next 12 months.
At the same time, a new CSIRO study shows that one in five Australians plan to continue working from home for at least part of the week, a factor that experts say will impact their job prospects.
Findex research has shown that a third of SMEs have experienced a decline in employee satisfaction this year.
Despite the popularity of working from home, almost two-thirds of businesses want their staff to be back in the office for most of the work week.
In contrast, 85% of employees said they wanted to continue working from home or maintain flexible working practices.
And more than half of the organizations surveyed said they had not consulted staff on their preferred working arrangements – and had no intention of doing so.
CSIRO research reveals not only the overwhelming transformation in how and where employees work, but also the extent to which those work habits were unlikely to revert to pre-pandemic norms.
The study, which analyzed NBN Internet data from more than eight million households, census data and ABS surveys, found a sharp increase in the number of people working from home.
He found that while one in 20 people worked from home before the pandemic, that number has risen to nearly one in five this year.
Cities that experienced longer outbreaks had a higher proportion of people who continued to work from home outside of blockages, he found, with 28% of workers in Melbourne and 27% in Sydney working from home in May and June.
In contrast, in Perth, which experienced a total of 12 days of blockages, 18% continued to work from home.
Switch to remote work led by tech workers
CSIRO research also found that the number of people working remotely in areas such as the Southern Highlands, Byron Bay in NSW and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland had increased.
People with jobs in business and IT were among the most likely to continue working from home, followed by arts and media workers, architects, finance and insurance clerks, and marketing.
Interestingly, the report suggested that those in leadership positions, who worked from home at high levels at the start of the pandemic, had rushed to the office at a faster pace than many others.
CSIRO economist Dr Andrew Reeson said there were lessons to be learned from the discovery that at a time when most people felt safe returning to their workplaces, many continued. to work from home for at least part of the week.
“The report provides a glimpse into a unique moment in our history and provides insight into some of the changes we may see emerge over the next 12 months,” Reeson said.
“We have observed that a lot of people are clearly comfortable working from home.”
A change in employee perspective
Recent trends have sparked a conversation about whether Australia is following the United States in what has been dubbed “The Great Resignation.”
A record 4.4 million Americans quit in September this year, or 3% of workers, and after almost six months since a wave of quits hit the job market.
However, most of the current local labor market research suggests this is not the case. Instead, employees are transitioning to new jobs at the fastest pace since the start of the pandemic, with the number of workers changing jobs increasing 26% in October from the same month in 2019.
Jane Betts, director of human resources at Findex, said the revelation that 60% of employers would like their employees to work ‘never or rarely’ from home when businesses open showed that many companies have a blind spot when it comes to business opening. what employees were looking for in their job. -pandemic.
“Clearly there is a big disconnect,” Betts said, adding: “What matters most to employees is very different in a post-COVID world, especially when it comes to work-life balance- personal life and flexible work. “
While nearly nine in 10 employees wanted to continue working from home or maintain flexible work practices, “our data shows that employers want the opposite and that teams return to the office for most, if not all, of the time. work week, ”she said. noted.
“In an environment of skills shortages, immigration restrictions and greater mobility of talent, hiring is becoming increasingly difficult.
“Businesses should be looking to do everything in their power to retain their current workforce. “