Flexibility and Belonging prized

Workers prioritise job security amid economic uncertainty but won’t give up flexibility

Randstad’s latest Workmonitor – now in its twentieth year – surveyed 35,000 workers in 34 markets across Europe, Asia Pacific and the Americas, and found that over half (52 per cent) are worried about the impact of economic uncertainty on their job security. Over a third (37 per cent) of workers are worried about losing their job, rising to 43 per cent for Gen Z – a 10 per cent increase compared to last year.

However, this doesn’t mean that workers are willing to forgo any of the expectations they became accustomed to in the pandemic – like flexible working and a good work-life balance. A third (33 per cent) of workers would still rather be unemployed than unhappy in a job and over two fifths (42 per cent) also said that they would quit their job if their employer did not take into account their request for better conditions. Despite the cost of living crisis and new concerns over job security, these proportions are largely unchanged from last year’s Workmonitor (33 per cent and 43 per cent respectively).

The research shows that the pandemic has left a lasting legacy on workers’ demands on flexibility:

• Despite the economic environment, 61 per cent of workers said that they would not accept a job if they thought it would impact their work-life balance.
• The vast majority of workers (83 per cent) also said that flexible working hours are important in terms of what they look for in a role, over parental leave policy (62 per cent) and training and development (76 per cent).
• Nearly three quarters (71 per cent) said that flexibility in terms of location is key.

Alongside practical requests, workers still want their employers’ values and purpose to align with their own. Over half (54 per cent) said that they would quit a job if they felt like they didn’t belong there, and this is especially true of Gen Z (61 per cent). Two-fifths of people wouldn’t accept a job if it didn’t align with their social and environmental priorities.

But while they’re not willing to give up flexibility, the tough economic environment, with cost of living rising and inflation across the world, has pushed workers to seek new sources of income, as:

• A quarter (25 per cent) have made the decision to take on or look for a second role to help manage the cost of living crisis, rising to (30 per cent) for Gen Z, compared to only 17 per cent of Baby Boomers.
• Just under a quarter (23 per cent) are planning to increase their hours at their current job. This proportion is higher for Gen Z (32 per cent), and drops to 13 per cent of Baby Boomers.
• A fifth (21 per cent) are considering resigning to find a better job to help manage the rising cost of living. Over a quarter (29 per cent) of Gen Z are considering this route, but only 11 per cent of Baby Boomers said the same.

The cost of living crisis is also having an impact on workers’ expectations of retirement, with over a quarter (26 per cent) of baby boomers delaying their retirement due to their financial position and 70 per cent of workers saying money worries are preventing them from retiring as early as they would like. Meanwhile, the expected retirement age has risen too, as last year 61 per cent thought they’d retire before 65, with only half agreeing now.

In addition to action on an individual level, workers are also looking to their employers to help them manage the cost of living crisis, whether that’s through increased salaries, subsidies or pay boosts outside of salary reviews.
• 41 per cent of workers would like a monthly pay boost from their employers.
• 39 per cent would like an increase in salary outside of the usual cadence of annual pay review.
• Close to a third (28 per cent) would like subsidies for the cost of energy, travel or other daily expenses.

Sander van‘t Noordende, CEO of Randstad, commented: “Talent scarcity is here to stay. Period. Employers have to step it up once again, as cost of living support is becoming a new differentiator in the ongoing scrabble for talent. At the same time, people continue to want flexible and stable employment that aligns with their own values.

“The height of the ‘Great Rotation’ may have passed, but companies must step up to expectations if they want to attract and retain their talent,” Sander added. “Companies should have the ultimate ambition of creating a happy, inclusive and inspiring workplace where people feel they belong, and this means listening to workers’ views and respecting their values. Ultimately the businesses which support their employees throughout the tougher economic conditions will reap the rewards in retention when times are easier.”

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