There is a growing divide between what employees and their employers want in the new work landscape, which could have drastic consequences for small to medium enterprises.
Although offices are welcoming back staff as lockdowns ease, a report from Findex shows that nearly 90% of workers want to retain the flexible work arrangements they’ve had for the past 18 months, while their bosses want to see them back in the office.
The latest business report, When Worlds Collide: Small Businesses Meet Post-Pandemic Life, from Findex shows employers want their teams to come back into the office for some if not most of the working week, and this disconnect between what their staff would prefer could result in an even higher than usual staff turnover.
The report found that despite the popularity of remote and hybrid working models, almost two-thirds of employers want staff to return to the office for most of the working week despite acknowledging that they think only a third of staff will want to return to pre-COVID working arrangements.
Furthermore, most businesses have not consulted with their teams on their preferred working from home model – and have no plans to do so despite the fact that the survey of more than 500 Australian and New Zealand SMEs found that half of businesses (53%) were concerned about their ability to retain staff over the next 12 months.
In fact, the survey found that one in three businesses (33%) had noticed a drop in employee satisfaction this year.
The much-talked-about Great Resignation that was affecting larger businesses, the report suggests, is now becoming a problem for Australia’s SME sector and staff retention is emerging as the top business concern for the year ahead.
The report recommends that to reduce the anticipated loss of staff in the new year, employers need to ensure they engage with their staff to ascertain the best way forward, especially in regard to the working model that would most suit.
“Hiring is becoming increasingly challenging so it’s concerning that half of businesses haven’t consulted their teams on their preferred ‘return to the office’ approach,” Jane Betts, chief people officer from Findex, said.
“But it’s not too late for businesses to find a way forward that can satisfy the needs of clients, employers, and employees alike. The market is competitive but for the organisations prepared to change and adapt, they could be rewarded with the best of new talent and a modern business solution that is fit for purpose in the new working world order.”