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The search for good talent continues throughout the insurance industry. Those organizations offering flexibility in work schedules, such as work-from-home and hybrid work options, will win in today’s competitive market, according to a new report by Integrated Benefit Institute.

IBI’s new report, “Making Post-Pandemic Hybrid & Flexible Arrangements,” found that almost half (47 percent) of employees say they would quit a job or begin looking for a new job immediately if their employer mandated a full-time return-to-office policy. While multiple studies suggest that most employees want to retain some form of remote work (as many as 89 percent), some employers are implementing return to the office full- or part-time.

But losing talent isn’t all about remote. It’s about flexibility. Mary Newgard, a partner at Capstone Insurance Recruiters, a national recruiting firm based in Iowa, said that just giving options and being open to discussion is what counts. And if an agency doesn’t want to offer flexibility, then they can expect to keep jobs unfilled for much longer, she said.

Being flexible is good for both the employee and the employer, too. According to a 2022 IBI study, remote and hybrid employees are 22 percent more productive, 21 percent more satisfied and 51 percent more highly engaged.

“Many studies have found that flexible work schedules improve well-being, engagement and organizational commitment. Offering flexibility can mitigate the risks of burnout and ensure employees are maximizing their productivity,” said IBI Researcher Carole Bonner, MET, MSAS. “Employers that are seeing improved attraction and retention rates, and attracting top talent, are often the ones offering the most flexibility.”

A majority (85 percent) of employers say they already offer or plan to offer some kind of flexible work arrangement, whether that’s fully remote or hybrid with varying quantities of days split between home and office. However, IBI’s findings highlight a significant gap between employers and employees regarding the future workplace. Only 15.1 percent of remote-capable employees expressed a desire to return to the office full-time, while significantly more (22.5 percent) U.S. employers with remote-capable employees want their employees back in the office full-time. Employers cite a number of reasons for wanting employees back in the office, including empty office space expenditures, questions surrounding true productivity measures, and hurting creativity and community amongst the workforce.

When asked about the top benefits of working at the office, most employees cited socializing (51 percent) and face-to-face collaboration (47 percent). Other noteworthy benefits include access to better equipment and improved boundaries between work/personal time. Employees’ subjective well-being (SWB), a measurement of happiness, paints a less rosy picture, according to IBI. Those who work fully onsite are less likely to rate their level of happiness as high. Those who work in an office-first arrangement, with one to two days working from home each week, are the most likely to have the highest possible SWB rating.

“Employers need to engage with their workforce to determine their preferences and needs, and to gather information about the effectiveness and long-term viability of different types of flexible work arrangements,” Bonner wrote in the IBI report, available at www.ibiweb.org.

*This article was originally published by Insurance Journal, CM’s sister publication