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Nearly half of workers say they’d quit over full-time return-to-office mandates

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About 47% of employees say they would quit their job or begin looking for a new job immediately if their employer mandated a full-time return-to-office policy, according to an Aug. 3 report from the Integrated Benefits Institute, a health and productivity research nonprofit.

Although most employers offer flexible work arrangements and plan to maintain them for now, according to the report, some companies are implementing full-time or part-time return-to-office policies.

“Many studies have found that flexible work schedules improve well-being, engagement and organizational commitment,” Carole Bonner, a researcher with the Integrated Benefits Institute, said in a statement.

“Offering flexibility can mitigate the risks of burnout and ensure employees are maximizing their productivity,” she said. “Employers that are seeing improved attraction and retention rates, and attracting top talent, are often the ones offering the most flexibility.”

About 85% of employers said they already offer or plan to offer some type of flexible work arrangement, according to the report, whether full remote or hybrid. However, 22.5% of U.S. employers with remote-capable employees want their employees back in the office full-time, as compared with only 15% of remote-capable employees who expressed a desire to return to the office.

Employers cited several reasons for employees to return to the office, including expenditures spent on empty office spaces, questions about productivity measures, and concerns about workforce creativity and community. Among employees, the top benefits of in-office work included socializing (51%) and face-to-face collaboration (47%), as well as access to better equipment and improved boundaries between work and personal time.

When it comes to employee subjective well-being, which is a measurement of happiness, hybrid arrangements seem to be most beneficial, IBI said. Employees with full-time on-site schedules were less likely to rate their happiness level highly, while those with office-first arrangements and one or two days per week of work at home were most likely to have the highest well-being ratings.

In response, IBI recommended several ways to improve employee engagement and build community across on-site, hybrid and remote arrangements, such as virtual social gatherings, virtual mentorship programs and virtual wellness activities.

Flexible work arrangements continue to remain key for retention this year, with half of workers thinking about looking for a new job if their company ends hybrid or remote options, according to a recent report. Job satisfaction and productivity would drop as well, many workers said.

Remote work is also a priority for talent acquisition, according to another survey of employees considering a career change this year. Workers are looking for flexibility, higher pay and better work-life balance, they indicated.

Even still, many workers are opting to stay rather than quit as the labor market shifts. Employees now want stability, community and a supportive company culture, talent acquisition leaders said.

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