No flexibility, no staff: Those who don’t adapt to hybrid working lose in today’s market

As candidates explore their renewed bargaining power, new research by Robert Half, shows two-thirds (66%) of Australian employers have had a candidate decline a job offer because their expectations on flexible working arrangements could not be met.

  • 66% of employers have had a candidate decline a job offer because their expectations on flexible working arrangements could not be met
  • 77% say their teams are more productive in remote or hybrid work settings
  • 84% say they will continue to consider interstate talent for remote work
  • Employers say candidates have become more demanding about working from home (71%), flexible work hours (70%), and flexible leave (67%)

Sydney, 22 June 2022 – As candidates explore their renewed bargaining power, new independent research by specialised recruiter Robert Half, and part of Robert Half’s 2022 Salary Guide, shows two-thirds (66%) of Australian employers have had a candidate decline a job offer because their expectations on flexible working arrangements could not be met, indicating the heightened focus and increased demand for flexible work conditions from today’s professionals. Emphasising the elevated skills shortages in the tech sector, combined with a shift in worker mentality, this rises to three-quarters (75%) of CIOs.  

The majority of employers in favour of continued remote work

Recent productivity gains are driving employers’ support for remote and hybrid working arrangements. More than three-quarters (77%) of employers say their teams are now more productive in remote or hybrid work settings compared to solely in-office work environments.

The Robert Half survey finds that business leaders’ current and preferred hybrid working arrangements are closely aligned and reflect the increased demand for flexible working. Business leaders would prefer just 5% less of their team to be working on a fully remote basis than is currently occurring. Those employees would preferably be working in the office full time (2%) or working remotely on a part-time basis (3%).

Working arrangement (as a % of the team)

Current

Preference

In office full time

42%

44%

Remotely part of the time

27%

30%

Remotely all of the time

31%

26%

Independent survey commissioned by Robert Half among 300 business leaders in Australia.

Remote work driving interstate hiring activity

In a skills-short market, remote work has enabled employers to access a wider geographic pool of domestic talent. Over four-in-five (84%) employers say they will continue to consider interstate talent for remote work to fill vacant positions. Of this, 51% would consider interstate talent for all positions while 33% would consider it for hard-to-find positions only. Only 17% say they will not consider interstate talent to work remotely, with 11% preferring to hire employees who can work on site (at least part of time time) and 6% who would not consider interstate talent to work remotely at all.

Work-life balance now a top priority

With hybrid working now an engrained part of Australian working culture, candidates are unwilling to give up the flexibility and convenience of working from home, nor the ability to autonomously manage their own schedules through flexible work hours. According to the Robert Half research, 71% of employers say job candidates have become more demanding about working from home at least part time since the pandemic began, while a similar proportion (70%) state candidates are now more demanding about flexible hours.

The trend towards greater flexibility following the pandemic is also influencing a push for wider perks and benefits that support an improved work-life balance. The Robert Half survey shows many candidates are now prioritising measures which allow them to better manage family and personal commitments including taking time off.   

The Robert Half survey asked Australian business leaders whether candidates have become more demanding since the pandemic when it comes to the following flexibility measures.

Ability to work from home/remotely (at least part time)

71%

Flexible work hours

70%

Flexible leave/extended time off

67%

Additional paid time off

64%

Extended maternity/paternity leave

64%

9-day fortnight

60%

Independent survey commissioned by Robert Half among 300 business leaders in Australia.

“Salary expectations are on the rise in Australia’s competitive hiring environment, but not every company will be able to meet these demands – especially as they recover from a period of uncertainty.

With improved work-life balance largely driving the shift to continued hybrid working arrangements, attracting and retaining talent is now about so much more than simply offering the highest salaries. Above all, different people have their own priorities when looking for work, so employers need to meet employees’ individual hybrid working needs in order to account for what works best for their lifestyle and their families if they want to successfully attract and keep top talent,” said Nicole Gorton, Director Robert Half Australia in announcing Robert Half’s latest survey results.

“With candidates still very much in the driver’s seat in today’s tight labour market, employers that are unwilling to meet a candidate’s demands around flexibility are not only losing their preferred candidate but are struggling to attract talent at all. While slowing market conditions may shift the balance of power between employer and employee, hybrid work has become an engrained part of Australian corporate culture and flexibility will be a resilient aspect of any new labour market conditions we enter. Employers that demonstrate a willingness to support ongoing hybrid working arrangements and engage with staff to prepare a tailored package that supports their individual needs will stand out as an employer of choice in the war for talent” concluded Gorton.      

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Notes to editors 

About the research 

The annual study is developed by Robert Half and was conducted online in November – December 2021 by an independent research company, surveying 300 hiring managers, including 100 CFOs and 100 CIOs, from companies across Australia. This survey is part of the international workplace survey, a questionnaire about job trends, talent management, and trends in the workplace.   

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