Tag: return to the office

New candidates less likely to work remotely

UK’s Net Employment Outlook has fallen to +25% for Q4, according to the latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey (MEOS). This figure shows a decrease of eight percentage points compared to Q3 and six percentage points year-on-year.

The MEOS is the most comprehensive employment survey of its kind and is used as a key economic indicator by the Bank of England and the UK Government.

The survey reveals that hiring confidence is still positive across all sectors, but new candidates have less bargaining power, with employers focussing on retaining their existing workforce.

In the survey, 2,030 UK employers were asked whether they intend to hire additional workers, maintain their current headcount, or reduce the size of their workforce in the coming quarter.

For the second quarter in a row, the Banking, Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate sector are in the lead with a Net Employment Outlook of +40%. This, however, is a decline of nine percentage points in Q3 and nine percentage points year on year.

Looking specifically at London, employers report an Outlook of +28% for Q4. This is a decline of 13 percentage points since last quarter. In Q1, employers in London were least likely to ask employees to work in the office full-time. Empty office space in London increased by 51% since the beginning of the pandemic, showing that working from home remains popular despite the increased cost of living, making working from home less affordable.

Chris Gray, Director at ManpowerGroup UK, said: “Employers are keen to get people back into the office, however employees still have a lot of bargaining power.”

“Over the last 12 months we have seen employers offer unprecedented benefits, from hefty signing bonuses to fully remote working, in order to attract skilled candidates. However, as demand for new workers cools, candidates are less able to secure these benefits – but many existing employees don’t want to give them up. One of our clients saw 75% of employees decline new contracts that didn’t guarantee fully remote work. This leaves employers engaged in a balancing act of keeping their existing employees happy while phasing out remote work for new candidates.”

“We’re seeing a shift from candidates holding all the cards to employers now having the leverage to ask candidates to come into the office – at least some of the time. Existing employees are more likely to have the bargaining power to retain their home working benefits, but new candidates will increasingly see pandemic-era benefit offers in the rear-view mirror.”

“As household energy bills hit record levels, trends may shift slightly with existing employees keeping their options open where possible to maintain their bargaining power. Decisions on whether to go back into the office will be based on individual circumstances. This is especially true for employees who moved away from big cities where commuting is most costly.”

“Despite the shift in power from candidates to employers, the fight for talent is still firmly underway, and employers need to meet candidates half-way to attract the best talent. That means offering sustainable benefits like increased annual leave and flexible working arrangements alongside increases in pay.”

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New survey looks at popular issues facing the future of work

According to Emburse’s new YouGov survey of 1,000 British office workers, it was found that 68% of British office workers would consider working from the office full-time if their commute was fully paid for. However, 27% of respondents wouldn’t consider coming back into the office full time, even if costs were covered by their employers.

The survey revealed that two-thirds agreed that Wednesday was the best day to work from the office if given a choice. On the other hand, Friday was the least popular office day at only 10%.

The top incentive to go back to the office was a four-day workweek (59%). Other findings related to incentives included:

  • Fully-paid commute: 52%
  • More paid holidays: 51%
  • Employer-paid lunch in the office: 30%
  • Reimbursement for lunch expenses: 24%
  • Paid childcare on workdays: 14%

The survey also found that most are not concerned about proximity bias, but 24% worry about career prospects.

Kenny Eon, GM and SVP EMEA at Emburse, commented: “The impacts of COVID and the Great Resignation mean that companies need to be more employee-centric in their approach, and humanising the workplace has never been more important. Part of this means ensuring team members get the best possible work environment. Whilst working remotely is certainly convenient for employees, there are clear benefits of having in-person interactions, as well as the cultural importance of bringing teams together. Data clearly shows that they are more productive than audio or video meetings, so there needs to be a balance between convenience and productivity. A relatively small investment from employers could have a significant impact in driving more in-office collaboration.”

“Given the sharp increase in the cost of living, businesses should consider how they can support staff by reducing the financial burden of attending the office in-person. Reimbursing travel and lunches can certainly help do this. It also doesn’t have to mean endless time on paperwork, as expense apps can make the process easy for both the employee and the finance team.”

With inflation reaching a 30-year-high of 7% and national insurance hikes, clearly, commute costs are deterring workers from returning to the office.

Employers will need to observe and respect their employees’ preferences to create a hybrid working arrangement to shape and maintain a productive workforce.

 

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