According to a survey released on May 16 by Eagle Hill Consulting, nearly half (45%) of government employees say they’ll consider looking for a new job if their agency requires them to return to in-person work.
The survey polled over 10,000 employees nationwide, including more than 500 local, state, and federal government employees, in response to a White House directive issued on April 13 directing federal agencies to “substantially increase meaningful in-person work.” Over three-quarters of government employees agreed that in-person team management, team building, and integrating a new team member are preferable. However, 45% were concerned about the impact of more in-person work on their work/life balance, commute time (43%), costs (38%), and stress (34%).
“Government employees know that some work is best accomplished in-person, especially work that requires collaboration or is classified,” Eagle Hill CEO Melissa Jezior said in a press release announcing the findings, but they don’t want rigid rules about in-person work. “This means that government leaders will need to focus on flexibility, such as allowing remote work for individualized tasks, reimagining traditional work schedules, and allowing for collaborative time in the workplace.”
In recent years, the scenario surrounding in-person and remote work for government employees in the United States has undergone significant shifts and adaptations. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, most government agencies relied primarily on an in-person work model.
However, the pandemic’s outbreak prompted a rapid shift to remote work arrangements to ensure employee safety and well-being while maintaining essential services. This transition was a success, demonstrating the efficacy of remote work and prompting many organizations to adopt flexible work policies even after the pandemic.
But in the current scenario, given the economy’s lingering uncertainty, employees have expressed conflicting feelings about whether to stay with their current employer or move on to potentially more promising opportunities.
According to the Workforce Report released in April by talent cloud company iCMS, one finding remains consistent: employees want flexibility. Almost all (93%) of workers polled in the report said that flexibility was top of mind for their current job satisfaction; 63% said that whether the job is remote, hybrid, or in-person was the most essential factor in their decision to accept a job offer.
According to a report by BBC, HR professionals recognize the value of hybrid work. Nearly half (47%) of HR professionals reported that their organizations use a hybrid approach to address work/life balance and mental health issues; 69% reported that employees had used the time that would otherwise be spent commuting to work on caregiving responsibilities.
These characteristics of hybrid work have made it an effective recruiting tool, as well as a tool for retention and employee satisfaction, according to HR professionals.
According to recent research by Gartner, a successful hybrid model has three characteristics: visibility, which encourages the practice of sharing work preferences with team members; connection, where employers facilitate periodic in-person meetings and on-site work with managers; and flexibility, which is preferred over rigid in-person mandates.
The potential flight of federal employees if agencies begin mandating more in-person work may provide the private sector with a much-needed source of talent. According to a March report from the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey, employers are still struggling to find the right people.
According to the report, 77% of employers who responded to the survey reported difficulty filling roles, representing a 17-year high in global talent shortages.