Construction employees join the great resignation

What motivates the British builder and engineer today, it seems, is not pay or status but the freedom to walk the dog, play golf, see the kids while also earning a living.

According to new research from private healthcare provider Benenden Health, the average business in the architecture, engineering and construction sector has seen 8% of its workforce leave since the summer of 2020, with employees rethinking their priorities and seeking new benefits from their workplace arrangements.

The survey found that the principal reason employees were leaving was to secure long-term flexible working (33%). They had a taste of it in 2020 during the pandemic and want more.

Across all sectors, the so-called ‘great resignation’ has seen record numbers of workers seek alternative employment over the past year, with the number of open jobs in the UK passing one million for the first time ever last year. While many employees have moved on to start a new career and others forced to find a job that better fits their new circumstances, a significant number have simply switched jobs due to the way their business treated employees during the pandemic, highlighting the continuing challenge for firms to keep workforces happy and maintain a competitive advantage.

Almost three quarters of business owners (74%)  in the architecture, engineering and construction sector explained that their employees place more value on work/life balance now than before the pandemic, while 61% acknowledge that they need to do more to stand out and attract new recruits.

As we have previously reported, some of the industry’s biggest companies are already embracing flexible working patterns, including Multiplex, Wates, BAM, Skanska and Willmott Dixon.

Naomi Thompson, head of organisational development at Benenden Health, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a seismic impact on the nature of the workplace, with many employers and employees forced into a whole new way of working.  We were already seeing a shift away from financial remuneration being top of the list of motivators for employees, with requests for wellbeing support and flexible working ever growing, but this change has only been exacerbated and accelerated by the pandemic.

“Businesses in architecture, engineering and construction are now at a crossroads – with almost a half telling us that they are concerned that their talented people may resign soon – but this provides a great opportunity for firms to adapt and position themselves as an employer that listens and supports employees. By building and committing to a health and wellbeing strategy that works for all the workforce, it will help them to attract the best talent and retain the valuable assets that they already have.”

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