Remote working a deal breaker for close to half of job candidates

Two surveys chime on demand for greater flexibility on where and when to work post-Covid

Research by  HRM found an increasing desire among workers for a better work-life balance. Photograph: iStock

Research by HRM found an increasing desire among workers for a better work-life balance. Photograph: iStock

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Up to 44 per cent of job candidates say they would refuse a role if the employer did not offer some form of remote working, according to a survey by an executive search firm.

The research by Irish firm HRM also found an increasing desire among workers for a better work-life balance and a demand for less commuting and more flexibility, as certain work trends that became more popular during the pandemic appear to be sticking as the crisis eases.

The findings are mirrored in a separate international report from EY which found that 54 per cent of employees would consider leaving their current job post-Covid, if they are not given some flexibility in where and when they work.

The EY 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey polled more than 16,000 employees across 16 countries and found that half of respondents believe organisational culture has improved at their companies since the pandemic. However, nine in 10 expect greater flexibility in where and when they work, with managers/leaders, caregivers and those working in technology and finance most likely to move jobs over the issue.

More than six in 10 said they wanted their company to make Covid-19 vaccination a pre-requisite before returning to the office

The HRM surveyed almost 1,900 people across a range of professional areas, such as technology, finance, marketing and science-related roles. More than a third were identified as “senior specialists” while 30 per cent were in managerial roles.

More than 70 per cent of those surveyed said a better work-life balance would be at the top of their agenda when deciding whether to go for interview for a particular role, while 67 per cent said they would accept a job only if allowed some element of work flexibility. Just 10 per cent of those surveyed said they wanted to return to their work site or office full-time after the pandemic ends.

Of candidates who refused roles offered to them, the majority cited a “lack of flexibility offered”.

Other areas were covered in the HRM survey and, perhaps reflecting the seniority of many of those surveyed, the majority said any adverse publicity surrounding the company would affect whether they wanted to join, while almost two-thirds would be influenced by a “public scandal” involving a senior executive.

But while a desire for flexibility is increasingly important for candidates, financial considerations were still considered a major draw by the overwhelming majority of those surveyed.

Michael O’Leary, the founder of HRM which has offices in Dublin, Cork and Galway, said employers seeking to recruit must understand “the key motivations” driving candidates now.

“We know as a consequence of the pandemic period, that people’s values have increased influence on many aspects of their lives, including their career decisions and that we have all become even more addicted to news through social media,” he said.

“This presents a further challenge for organisations in managing their employer brands, particularly when bad news from one side of the world now reaches the other in seconds.”