Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

In Shocking Blow to Pro-Office Leadership, People Will Quit If You Force Them Back Into the Office

Just in case the C-suite needs more evidence that precious talent hates being corralled back into their cubicles, Deloitte has released a new survey that says if you force it, they will not come. Most people are surprisingly OK with going into the office, just not all the time

Here are the key findings from “Cultivating employee engagement in financial services,” specific to financial services institutions but no doubt applicable across offices everywhere (and certainly those belonging to people with email addresses). TL;DR: Overall survey results indicate that financial services institutions (FSIs) with overly strict in-office mandates could face dual challenges: possibly losing their pipeline of leaders and having difficulty recruiting talent. Caregivers are particularly sensitive to RTO mandates and more likely to leave their company if forced back into the office.

Strict return-to-office mandates could impact retention. Among leaders surveyed who work remotely at least part of the time, 66% say it’s likely they’d leave their current job if their company required them to return to the office five days a week.

Caregivers are more likely to be affected by return-to-offices mandates. Leaders with caregiving responsibilities surveyed were 1.3 times more likely than non-caregivers to say they’d leave their organization if their company eliminated their ability to work remotely.

Leaders surveyed prefer flexible work arrangements over prescribed workplace models. Some financial services institutions now require their workforce to go into the office three to four days a week. However, only 18% of respondents say this would be their ideal arrangement.

While remote working has improved engagement and well-being, most surveyed leaders believe it will put them at a disadvantage. Among leaders with hybrid work arrangements, 62% of respondents say they would prefer to work remotely more often but feel it would be bad for their career.

Financial services institutions may face a shrinking pipeline of future female leaders in the years to come. Almost half (45%) of women respondents in senior leadership roles report being likely to leave their current employer over the next year.

Deloitte got their info from 700 US mid- to executive-level financial services professionals—manager-level through senior leadership just below the C-suite—from many of the largest US FSIs. “Our respondents are meant to represent the future of financial services leadership: ‘next-generation leaders’ are manager level, and ‘senior leaders’ are EVPs, SVPs, or equivalent or lines of business leaders; some are just one step away from the C-suite,” they said. “As such, our respondents should represent the leadership pipeline at many of the largest US financial services firms.” Millennials and Gen X made up 91% of the survey population.

Since some leaders respond better to visual learning, let’s throw a few helpful graphs in here.

Says Deloitte in its advice to leadership:

Take small steps. Any significant changes to the current working arrangements may be met with strong opposition. Starting with lesser number of days in office, before ramping them up, would allow employees time to soak in the benefits of an in-office environment. Our survey indicates a clear preference for 1–2 in-office days a week over 3–4 days. In some cases, employers are offering a combination of flex and core hours, where all employees are expected to work during specific hours (e.g., 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), with full flexibility for remainder of the day. Offering team-based decisions on workplace arrangements is another option. This approach can empower employees to voice their flexibility preferences while still committing to the needs of the team.

On that note: 4-6pm is now “a dead zone” for many workers. People are logging out early, running errands, picking their kids up, taking a quick nap, and then logging back in later to finish their day. This explains why there are now so many people at the grocery store right at 4 o’clock.

More than one-third of respondents (38%) said having opportunities to connect with leaders above their level could positively impact their work experience so Deloitte suggests instituting regular live, in-office sessions with leadership. Almost four in 10 respondents said they’d like more learning and development opportunities, in-person, role-based, or business-specific training programs are one way to get those people in the office with something that benefits them more than the nebulous promise of “collaboration” pro-RTO leaders have been trotting out for years.

Ultimately it’s both a personal and practical choice if a return-to-office mandate sends someone back out into the job market. People without as many responsibilities at home might be less insistent on leaving but they appear to be just as unwilling to come into the office for what they consider to be too many days a week. Leaders are advised to tread carefully and ask themselves if it’s worth it to lose your best people over a couple extra days a month under the fluorescent lights.

Cultivating employee engagement in financial services [Deloitte]

2 thoughts on “In Shocking Blow to Pro-Office Leadership, People Will Quit If You Force Them Back Into the Office

  1. Accountants are more likely to be introverts (tax people, however, are generally not accountants–they are raging alcoholics). Forcing introverts back into the office when alternatives exist will not work out well for firms. Tax people are easier to manipulate with the promise of firm outings and after hour events that serve liquor. Introverts cannot be swayed by free food and drink–it makes their IBS worse. Lots more money is the only thing that will bring accountants back into the office because dealing with others–especially the tax department–is not worth the effort.

    1. I agree forcing people into the office to do work, that they can do just as well and probably faster at home, is not the way to get employees to stay with your company.

Comments are closed.