A new report warns that top talent will leave firms as flexible workplace policies become increasingly important to the workforce. 

Research by Barnett Waddingham, a UK professional services consultancy, indicates that staff expect the freedom to work how they want after the pandemic, and would consider leaving their jobs if it is not permitted.

A third of respondents (33 per cent) stated that they would look for a new job if their organisation does not give them the flexibility they desire post-pandemic.

However, of this group, almost a quarter (23 per cent) would first bring this up with senior leadership. If nothing changed after this, then these staff would look for a new job or plan to leave their organisation.

Over one in 10 (11 per cent) said they would immediately look for a new job.

However, young workers were shown to be much more comfortable with demanding flexibility post-pandemic.

Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of 18-24 years old stated that they would feel confident challenging their employer on this issue. This is compared to under three-fifths (57 per cent) of 46-64 year olds.

However, this group was also most likely to want to return to the office most of the time post-pandemic with over a quarter (28 per cent) expressing this is their main preference. This may be due to the fear that they are missing out on vital networking and learning opportunities by working from home.

In addition, workers at smaller companies were also shown to be more vocal about asking their employer for flexible working with three-quarters (75 per cent) prepared to do so.

David Collington, Associate & Head of Benefit Consulting at Barnett Waddingham, commented:

The flexible working boom and the future of hybrid environments is not a new conversation – since the pandemic, it’s been a hot topic for businesses embracing change and agility across the UK. However, the risks of not adopting flexibility for the retention of staff are starting to rise to the surface as we begin to move out of lockdown for good. Employee sentiment is crystal clear; adopt hybrid working for the future, or people will happily move somewhere where they can work how they like.

Employers now need to focus on gauging the views and preferences of their workforce. It’s no use adopting a blanket ‘back to the office’ or ‘only work at home’ policy. Businesses risk their employees feeling dissatisfied and disillusioned with their company, and in today’s competitive job market, the cost of this decision in recruitment and retention terms far outweighs the cost of a nuanced and flexible policy.

*To obtain these results, Barnett Waddingham conducted a survey of 2,001 employees in the UK between the 29th April and the 4th May 2021, asking them about the future of work.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.