Press release

12 May 2021 London, GB

More than half of employees globally would quit their jobs if not provided post-pandemic flexibility, EY survey finds

LONDON, 12 MAY 2021. More than half (54%) of employees surveyed from around the world would consider leaving their job post-COVID-19 pandemic if they are not afforded some form of flexibility in where and when they work, according to the EY 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey.

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Related topics Workforce
  • Nine in ten respondents want flexibility in where and when they work, with millennials twice as likely to quit as baby boomers
  • Half of respondents believe organizational culture has improved
  • Continued technology investment is key to employee experience

More than half (54%) of employees surveyed from around the world would consider leaving their job post-COVID-19 pandemic if they are not afforded some form of flexibility in where and when they work, according to the EY 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey.

The survey – one of the largest global surveys of its kind – canvassed the views of more than 16,000 employees across 16 countries and multiple industries and job roles. It explores employee attitudes and experiences to work throughout the pandemic and into the “next normal”.

Flexibility

The survey finds that nine in ten employees want flexibility in where and when they work. Given the choice, more than half of employee respondents (54%) would choose flexibility in when they work. By comparison, 40% want flexibility in where they work. On average, employees would want to work between two and three days remotely after the pandemic. When pandemic restrictions ease in their countries, 22% would prefer to work full time in the office, with 33% of employee respondents saying they want a shorter working week altogether. More than half (67%) believe their productivity can be accurately measured irrespective of location.

Job retention

The job roles most likely to move jobs include managers/leaders, those with technology or finance roles, and caregivers. Those most likely to stay in their current roles include baby boomers, individuals with 10+ years of tenure, and those in government or education roles. Attitudes to job retention differ by age, with millennials twice as likely as baby boomers to quit. Despite the apparent willingness to move jobs for more flexible working arrangements, most employee respondents (76%) say they are satisfied with their jobs, and almost all (93%) say they plan to stay in their current roles for the following 12 months.

Liz Fealy, EY Global People Advisory Services Deputy Leader and EY Global Workforce Advisory and Solutions Leader, says:

“Employees’ willingness to change jobs in the current economic environment is a game-changer. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that flexibility can work for both employees and employers, and flexible working is the new currency for attracting and retaining top talent. Employers who want to keep the best people now and in the next normal will need to put flexible working front and center of their talent strategy.”

Remote working and organizational culture

The survey also canvassed attitudes to existing work practices, with employee respondents broadly positive about the impact of remote working. Almost half (48%) say their organizational culture has changed and improved during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, while only 31% believe it has worsened.

Health and safety

The survey also explored employee respondents’ views on the COVID-19 vaccine and found that 61% want their company to make vaccination a pre-requisite for working from the office. Attitudes toward vaccinations vary between geographies, with 66% of respondents in South America agreeing that companies should require vaccination of all employees, compared with a comparative low of 52% in EMEIA.

Work from anywhere requires increased technology investments

The prospect of increasingly widespread flexible working is leading to more demands for technology, both on-site and in the home office. Sixty-four percent of respondents say they want better technology in the office (e.g. faster internet and videoconferencing), almost half (48%) say they want companies to upgrade at-home hardware (e.g. extra monitors and headsets), and almost the same proportion (47%) would like re-imbursement for high-speed internet/phone expenses. However, despite the shift toward new ways of working and the rapid adoption of virtual meeting technology, 67% would like to travel for business moderately to extensively after the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase from 49% in the previous survey, which was conducted in 2020.

Roselyn Feinsod, Principal, People Advisory Services, Ernst & Young LLC, says:

“Organizational culture has historically been built based on shared in-person experiences and it is fascinating to see that the new ways of working have improved such culture in the eyes of many employees. As we look toward the longer-term and organizations continue to transform their operations, employers will need to consistently re-assess conceptions of productivity and the impact on their cultures, ensuring their team’s approach is optimized for the in-person, hybrid and digital work experience.”

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About the survey

The 2021 EY Work Reimagined Employee Survey was conducted in March 2021 and received 16,264 responses from 16 countries across 23 industries. Millennials represented more than half of all respondents.

The survey was conducted using a third-party panel and targeted employees who work for organizations with at least 500 employees.

Survey data is segmented by 24 different personal and work-related demographics and preferences. Participant responses ranged from 21 years to 65 years plus, with responses from senior leaders and individuals at all different functions.

It provides an update to the 2020 EY Work Reimagined Survey, which included responses from more than 3,600 employees and 700 plus employers.