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High level of ‘flexiters’ shows how much Aussies value hybrid

By Juliet Helmke
21 February 2024 | 11 minute read
catherine kennedy peope2people reb aqdnig

Companies may be pushing for a return to pre-pandemic working norms, but Australian workers are warning that if too much of their new-found flexibility disappears, they will quit.

According to a recent poll by recruitment firm people2people, 55 per cent of Australians would leave their job if they didn’t have enough “work flexibility” meaning the ability to work from home and choose their own hours. A further 20 per cent said they would strongly consider leaving if their employers clawed back flexible offerings.

These so-called “flexiters” are keeping the status quo of yesteryear – when five days a week in the office was the norm – thoroughly at bay, as employers increasingly realise that they can’t underestimate the value that workers are placing on hybrid offerings.

And it appears that workers are increasingly making their priorities known, bringing these benefits to the negotiating table with their current employers during periodic reviews.

Almost a quarter of the survey respondents said they plan on requesting more work-from-home days, while 13 per cent said they want more flexible hours. A further quarter of respondents said they want – and would be requesting – both flexible hours and more time working from home.

Catherine Kennedy, managing director of people2people, said while employers may feel the current economic conditions give them an upper hand at the moment, she cautioned that the success and stability of their workforce may rest on these less-tangible negotiating points.

In the current market, with uncertainty shadowing the next few months, it might be hard for employers to match these expectations,” she said of the number of employees intending to request greater flexibility.

“However, in the long run, it is essential to ensure you remain competitive with other employers, or risk rising recruitment and training costs as a result of higher staff turnover,” Ms Kennedy noted.

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It appears that there are quite a few employers out there who have decided not to heed these warnings. According to the research, 45 per cent of respondents said they are dissatisfied with their current level of work flexibility.

The findings also revealed that flexibility is being prioritised before other traditional work concerns, meaning that flexibility could well be the factor that determines whether an employee decides to stay or leave.

According to the recruitment firm, 36 per cent of respondents cited work/life balance as the most important offering from their employer, followed by mental health support (25 per cent), salary and bonus increases (28 per cent), and learning and development (11 per cent).

It’s no wonder then that a high proportion of Aussies appear ready to quit if their work flexibility needs aren’t met. A quarter of workers said they intend to seek new job opportunities this year, while 52 per cent said they are considering changing jobs.

In Ms Kennedy’s eyes, employers have been put on notice.

“As employees prioritise flexibility, work/life balance and mental health, employers must adapt their strategies to meet these changing needs to attract and retain top talent,” she said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Juliet Helmke

Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.

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