Once again, workers say they would rather quit than return to the office

Employees have high work expectations for 2023, including flexible schedules, mental health support, and salaries that keep up with inflation.
Written by Jada Jones, Associate Editor
A middle aged man in a wheelchair sat at his computer desk, waving at smiling colleagues who are participating in a video call
Image: Getty Images

As employees settle into their remote and hybrid work routines, companies are ready for staff to return to the office. 

But that could be easier said than done: a survey from careers service Zety asked more than 1,000 US workers what their work expectations will be going into 2023, and 60% said they would rather quit their job than return to their desks five days a week.

Workplace trends have been a bit tumultuous over the last two years. In 2021, the Great Resignation emboldened employees to quit their jobs en masse to find better opportunities. More recently, quiet quitting and quiet firing have highlighted the strained relationships between workers and their bosses.

Now, many companies are advocating for their employees to return to the office. Of the respondents surveyed by Zety, 79% said their employers wanted them to return to full-time, on-site work, with 86% of respondents saying they currently worked remotely most or all of the time.

Also: Hybrid workers don't want to return to the office. But soon, they might have to

With almost two-thirds of employees willing to quit should they be forced to return to the office, employers risk losing a sizable chunk of their workforce, Zety said.

Remote working isn't the only thing taking priority on employees' list of expectations. As prices soar, 77% of workers want to see their salaries increase in line with inflation. Employees also want more flexibility in their work hours so they can set their own schedules (76%), while 70% want mental health support, which Zety noted was particularly important given the rising rates of job burnout.

Tailored training that provides employees with ongoing upskilling and professional development opportunities was cited as important by 69% of employees. This could be critical to enabling employers to fill skills gap within businesses. 

Company culture is another, often overlooked aspect of how to maintain skilled employees: not just "swag" and catered meals, but strong company values that align with employees.

Also: Workers are refusing to return to the office, and they are ready to face the consequences

In Zety's survey, employees cited a stable job (72%), 20 days of paid vacation (68%), a nice relationship with their boss (69%), and comprehensive training (63%) as some of the most important values.  

Despite the popularity or remote and hybrid working, many companies have started advocating for their employees to return to the office. That could be because executives aren't convinced remote employees are working hard enough, or because paying rent on empty buildings isn't ideal. But most of all, companies are beginning to worry about how to ensure employees are working and collaborating effectively as the economy faces a recession.

Despite managers' demands, employees have been pushing back on return-to-office policies or completely ignoring them. Remote working, it seems, can't be taken away so easily.

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