More than half of workers ready to bail if employers end work flexibility

28 June 2021 3 min. read
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Fifty-four percent of employees say they would leave their company if their current flexibility in work location and schedule isn’t extended post-pandemic, according to an April 2021 survey from EY Canada.

Canadian employees overall seem fairly satisfied at their current jobs, according to the survey, with 93% saying they are likely to stay with their current employer for at least 12 months. Three-quarters also rated their job satisfaction at least 7 on a 10-point scale.

That job satisfaction will only go so far, however, with a majority willing to head out if they’re forced back to a standard 9-to-5 at the corporate office block. Overall, 54% said they were likely to quit, with millennials twice as likely to leave as boomers.

This factor, along with many employees staying put at their companies to ride out the pandemic crisis, could point to a significant exodus of talent as Covid-19 subsides.

Nine out of 10 employees favour flexibility, with respondents expecting to work between two and three days remotely after the pandemic. In line with this, 48% would want to see greater home office “hardware” investments from their company.

Most can’t be swayed with the promise of top-notch, on-site amenities at a designated office, with 67% still opting to control where and when they work.In spite of the challenges post by the pandemic“Whether you know — and accept — it or not, your employees have been forever transformed, and walking back this sea of change isn’t an option,” said Darryl Wright, partner, people advisory services at EY Canada. “Employees have embraced the flexibility that tech-enabled remote working has made possible. And they don’t expect it to stop in the aftermath of the pandemic.”

Most Canadians don’t think their productivity suffered due to remote working. According to a 2020 PwC survey, 40% of employees said they experienced no change in productivity, while 35% believe their productivity increased. Sixty-eight percent of employees in the EY survey agreed that productivity can be accurately measured regardless of where they work. 

Employers, however, also have other concerns about remote work: namely, that it makes it more difficult to build and maintain corporate culture, as well as train and develop talent.

“While early data suggests employees are just as productive working from home, and they value newfound flexibility, the jury is still out on the long-term effect of working remotely — including what’s been lost from the disappearance of in-person interactions, including coaching and mentoring,” Wright said.

Nearly half (48%) of Canadians believe their company culture has improved since the pandemic started, with utilities employees most positive and healthcare and transportation workers most negative. “While nearly half have seen a positive change in culture, there’s still the remaining half that have seen no or negative change — and that needs to be addressed,” Wright added.

Employees expect their employers to continue enabling their health and safety in the future hybrid (part remote, part in-office) workplace. Nearly two-thirds (61%) want their company to require vaccination of all employees before a return to the physical workplace.