Despite inflation-impacted supply chains, higher interest rates, and a looming recession, the U.S. economy is continuing to barrel along, with the Labor Department reporting that the economy added 263,000 jobs in November. Employers are still struggling to fill roles, and many industries continue to see their workers leave in search of greener pastures.
Employees are consistently reporting a desire for more flexible working conditions and a better work-life balance, and some businesses appear to be listening: according to a new survey by Ernst and Young (EY), more than 70% of American employees reported working from home for half the week, while 40% of companies surveyed have already moved to a four day work week or are actively in the process of doing so.
“A prolonged, tight labor market and changing work patterns have employers doing all they can to attract and retain their workforce, and many are adjusting the role of the office to stay competitive,” EY reported. “A company’s overall working model must accommodate hybrid working or risk employees searching for more flexible options. The Index found that 69% of company leadership has implemented or is in the process of implementing hybrid work technologies to meet employees where they are.”
The changes to how and where employees work is disrupting commercial real estate strategies, causing some businesses to move away from large central locations and invest in “hyperlocal” offices to promote a return to in-person work, while others are re-evaluating investments in in-person events, catered meals, commuting cost reimbursements, and support for childcare.
While the pandemic undoubtedly bears some responsibility for disrupting the way people work, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) claims that it may not be the sole cause of the “Great Resignation,” suggesting that it may be due in part to employees prioritizing not just total compensation, but who they work for. Self-employment saw a boost during the pandemic, and according to BLS, the switch “suggests that the factors influencing quits during the COVID-19 pandemic” differ from the dot-com recession and Great Recession.
With employers facing stiff competition to attract and retain top talent, EY’s results reinforce that increasing pay, boosting benefits, providing more flexible working arrangements, and being more receptive to the needs of employees appears to be a winning formula for maintaining a more stable — and happier — workforce.