The Great Resignation': Third of millennials say they'll quit their job if they have to go to the office more

A third of millennials will look for a new job if their employer changes their work model to a more in-person approach, according to new research.

The data, obtained by i, suggests that young people may be driving the ‘Great Resignation’ – a trend of staff changing their jobs which has been reported by employers in the US and UK since the pandemic began.

But there are concerns over how cities and town centres will survive if workers are not regularly commuting to the office and increasing footfall for local businesses.

PR Account Executive Liam Pitts, 28, from Warwick, quit his job over summer because he wanted to be able to work from home.

The pandemic made him “rethink” his priorities, so he decided to move closer to friends and family, especially to support his mum who has health problems.

His old employer said he could work from home two days per week, but the other three days would be a 40 minute commute.

“I just started looking for something else that was going to allow me to work from home full-time,” he told i.

Mr Pitts now works for an agency based in London and is remote full-time.

“It’s ideal to be close to home because my mum is going through health problems at the moment so it’s great to be back and perfect timing to be here for her,” he said.

“The work life culture and pressure of being in the office five days a week is not ideal for anyone, and definitely not me and my current circumstances at the time,” he said, adding that he enjoys commuting to the London office every now and again.

The research is part of a wider survey of 9,000 people in America, Britain, France, Australia and Germany who are employed full-time or employed part-time and working two jobs before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Market research company Ipsos, in partnership with cloud communications platform RingCentral, surveyed 2,000 Brits aged 21 to 65.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) 791,000 Brits moved jobs from April to June 2021 which equates to 2.6 per cent of the UK’s workforce.

This is the highest total since March 2019 and before that, the highest in a decade.

According to RingCentral, almost a third – 32 per cent – of people aged 21 to 24 (the Gen Z age group) plan to leave their place of employment, with a further 27 per cent planning to leave in the next six months.

The data suggests that the Great Resignation may be driven by people wanting to continue with a more flexible approach to work, including the option to work from home.

Two thirds – 66 per cent – of Brits would rather continue working from home that return to the office full time and a quarter would look for a new job if they were forced to come back into the office full time.

The millennial workforce of people aged 25 to 34 are even less keen to return to the office, with a third saying they will look for a new job if their employer changes their work model to a more in-person approach.

Steve Rafferty, Country Manager, UK and Ireland, RingCentral said that “people’s attitudes have changed over the last two years” in terms of work life balance.

He said: “People are changing careers and changing jobs and being more focused on themselves.

“One way or another, the data is clear: if businesses want to retain their staff they need to offer an environment that caters to modern needs.”

He added: “There needs to be more research into how the pandemic has changed people’s mental wellbeing but also career aspirations and work environment as well.”

Mr Rafferty said employers “should be” concerned about the Great Resignation if they are not already.

“This is a thing you can’t throw money at. So you can’t just say: ‘Here’s a load more shares, or here’s a load more money’. That’s not why people are leaving. They’re leaving for a different lifestyle.”

The Great Resignation’: Third of millennials say they’ll quit their job if they have to go to the office more
© Provided by The i Marketing manager Siân Lovatt prefers to work from home as it means she can look after her dog, Huckleberry (Photo: supplied)

Marketing manager Siân Lovatt, 30, from Lincolnshire, said she would “seriously have to weigh up the pros and cons” of staying in her job if she had to go back into the office full time.

Just before the pandemic, she and her partner bought a dog but they broke up during the pandemic.

She now has the dog to look after and says a full-time office job would be unfeasible. “If I had to go back into the office now full time, I would seriously have to weigh up my options,” she told i.

“I think I would have to sit down and write the pros and cons of what to do or whether to look for something else that had a little bit more flexibility.”

However, Ms Lovatt is not planning to leave her job and her office have allowed her to take the dog into work.

Although she misses the social interaction of being in the office full time, she finds she is more productive at home.

Angelica Malin, 30, from London, runs lifestyle publication About Time Magazine and also creates content for businesses on a freelance basis.

Before the pandemic, her small team worked from an office, but they started working from home when Covid-19 hit.

Now, they all work remotely but go into a shared workspace two or three days per week.

“It’s the best flexible solution I’ve found because I think people want to have a sense of somewhere to go,” she told i. “In terms of mental health and team bonding, constantly working from home is not the best thing for employee well-being.

“But at the same time, I think we’ve realised that you can actually get so much more from your staff, if you’re willing to give them the freedom and flexibility to work in a way that suits them.”

She said the flexible approach gives employees the opportunity to work around childcare, caring for a pet, or completing “life-admin” tasks.

“They’re relatively small things but in the grand scheme of things, they’re the things that make us feel stressed, and we end up feeling burnt out,” she said.

She added that working from home is “not a trend anymore”, but the new normal.

“I think for the next few years, probably, as we have different variants, different levels of concern and restrictions, we’re going to go back to working from home,” she said.

Ms Malin added that as an employer, offering flexible roles means she can hire people with childcare needs, not people not based in London or even the UK.

“I think that is really beneficial in terms of accessibility of like the job market,” she said.

The Great Resignation’: Third of millennials say they’ll quit their job if they have to go to the office more
© Provided by The i Angelica Malin runs a lifestyle publication called About Time Magazine and offers her employees freedom and flexibility (Photo: supplied)

Isabel Boulter, 26, from Bristol works as a Human Resources Associate at Virti, an immersive training company. She has been working remotely “pretty much since day 1”.

“I would definitely be reluctant to work for a company that required me to be physically present in an office for more than a couple of days each week – this would be detrimental both to the standard of my work and to my quality of life,” she told i.

The RingCentral survey found that two thirds of Brits would rather continue working from home than return to the office full time.

Almost two thirds – 65 per cent – would rather do undesirable tasks than commute and one in three would rather clean the toilet while a quarter would prefer to have their in-laws stay for the weekend.

More than half – 52 per cent – of Brits surveyed said they have colleagues they’ve never met with 47 per cent expressing anxiety about meeting them face-to-face.

Mr Rafferty from RingCentral said it is unlikely most offices will force employees to come into the office every day, but the next stage is to establish how to get back to “some king of normality”.

“It’s not going to be pre-2020,” he said. “But we just somehow need to get back to normal.”

He said: “More often than not, the workforce is a company’s most valuable asset and this is why the Great Resignation has been such a concern.

“It’s all very well to flippantly say that workers should ‘get off their Pelotons’ and return to the office, but for many individuals, the introduction of a hybrid working model has been a lifeline.”

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