NEW YORK, NY — More than seven of 10 employees (76%) say they want their company to make work permanently flexible in terms of schedule and/or location. But their desire for work flexibility is being met with a conflicting message—employees report that their employer thinks they are more innovative and work harder on-site, according to a survey commissioned by Catalyst and CNBC, conducted by Harris Poll.
In the survey of 903 respondents in the United States, the data shows that flexible-work options are critical for employees—76% of people say they want their company to make work permanently flexible in terms of schedule and/or location.
The report, The Great Work/Life Divide: How Employee Desire for Flexibility and Concern from Companies Is Driving the Future of Work, shows that the “Great Resignation”—the mass, voluntary exodus from the workforce—will continue if companies and managers don’t demonstrate more empathy or care and understanding for employees’ concerns as well as life/work needs.
“This survey is a wake-up call for CEOs,” said Lorraine Hariton, Catalyst President & CEO. “The 9-to-5, in-the-office paradigm is outdated, and if you don’t respond to your employees’ needs by offering flexible and remote-work options and by showing empathy, you are going to lose valuable talent and derail innovation.”
COVID-19 impact responsible for employees seeking flexible and remote work
Half of employees intend to make career change because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those who intend to make a career change, 41% said they are seeking flexible and/or remote work, followed by 39% who desire a raise and/or promotion and 33% with an interest in changing industries.
Almost one-third of employees who intend to make a career change because of the COVID-19 pandemic (32%) say they’re going to look for another job in the same industry, while about one in five (22%) are going to quit their current job and start their own business.
But there appears to be a disconnect between employers and employees; most workers surveyed say they are getting the message that their company thinks employees are more innovative (72%) and work harder (75%) in the office or on-site.
Among those who work 100% remotely, nearly two in five (39%) say their employer has implemented practices or policies since the pandemic that have positively impacted their willingness to stay at their job.
Workplace stress is exacerbated by returns to in-person school
But there continues to be additional stress for working parents. More than half of employed parents in the United States are considering leaving their jobs because they feel their company (54%) or manager (51%) does not care about their concerns during the pandemic.
And almost two in three employed parents (65%) think their ability to do their best work has been impacted by worries over sending their children back to school in the pandemic. Most of the working parents say they want their children’s school to mandate masking for everyone (78%) and mandate vaccination for eligible students, teachers, and school staff (69%).
The data also suggests that employed parents could benefit from more support from their employer. While roughly three out of five employed parents (62%) say their employer has improved their childcare offerings and policies since last year, a similar proportion of employed parents (61%) feel they are burnt out at work from managing their children’s educational needs during COVID-19.
Interestingly, while much has been written about the impact of the pandemic on working women, the survey found that employed men are far more likely than employed women to say they are considering quitting their job because their company (50% vs. 30%) or manager (44% vs. 29%) has not cared about their concerns during the pandemic.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Catalyst between September 14-16, 2021. Out of the 2,070 US respondents, there were 903 adults ages 18+ employed full-time/part-time (447 men and 449 women), among whom 370 are employed parents of children ages 3-17. Results were weighted for age within gender, region, race and ethnicity, household income, education, and size of household where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population.
Catalyst is a global nonprofit supported by many of the world’s most powerful CEOs and leading companies to help build workplaces that work for women. Founded in 1962, Catalyst drives change with preeminent thought leadership, actionable solutions and a galvanized community of multinational corporations to accelerate and advance women into leadership—because progress for women is progress for everyone.