The Great Resignation: Survey finds employees want flexibility, but are managers ready to oblige?

The 'Great Resignation' is real. The number of people leaving their jobs is at a record high, with employees citing work-life balance and burnout as top reasons for making a change. A new survey suggests it could get worse if companies don’t make workplace changes of their own.

About 4.4 million people quit their jobs in September, a record high according to the U.S. Labor Department.

Business owner Chris Dyer runs PeopleG2, a background check company headquartered in California whose clients are furiously trying to fill open positions. 

Dyer said he’s noticed workers leaving positions because of salary or lack of family care flexibility. Some researchers warn it may get worse if companies don’t change. 

Future Forum surveyed over 10,000 workers and managers in October and found 76% want more flexibility with where they work and 93% want flexibility with when they work.

"I have decided that I go in about three days a week. I stay home two days a week. A lot of it is for that work-life balance thing that that you saw in the survey, which is if I need to pick up one of my children early, I can do that versus being on campus," said Russell Clayton, a business professor at the University of South Florida Muma College of Business.

Clayton said he believes the data is a call for other companies to listen up.

"One of the striking things from that survey that I found was that a lot of the executives know what the employees want, but were simply going to continue making decisions without their input," said Clayton. "There are plenty of jobs out there in most areas. I believe it would behoove the executives, the decision-makers, to look at that data and see what is it that our people want and try to see about at least meeting in the middle."

There is a disconnect between how employees and managers view the future of work, and more than half of workers are looking for another job, Future Forum survey found. But before leaving, Dyer said workers should negotiate for what they want if they were to stay.

"They need to go in and have that conversation and say, ‘Hey, I'm thinking about leaving,' or 'Hey, I've been given an offer and I would really like to stay if you can help me with these one or two things,’" said Dyer. 

Researchers suggest companies listen to their workers’ needs – or risk turnover in their own office. CareerSource of Tampa Bay said some solutions include attracting younger workers, giving incentives to older workers who are reliable and trained, and training existing workers to fill the current needs.