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Flexibility has become 'a core requirement for employees': Slack vice president

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Slack Vice President Sheela Subramanian joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss workplace flexibility and other survey findings on top employee priorities.

Video Transcript

JARED BLIKRE: The great resignation may not be over. A new report from Futures Forums shows 55% of employees are open to looking for a new job in the next year. Here to discuss that and more is Sheela Subramanian, Slack's vise president of Future Forum. So what have we got? We've had some of your associates on our show before and things are changing here. What are the numbers saying?

SHEELA SUBRAMANIAN: Yes, thank you for having me today. So Future Forum conducts a quarterly survey of over 10,000 knowledge workers globally. And what we're seeing from the report we released earlier this week is that the disconnect between executive policies and what employees want continues to widen.

So what we're seeing from the research is that 20% of employees actually want to go back into the office five days a week, which is our lowest that we've seen in over two years of survey, yet a third of employees are actually back in the office full-time.

And the reason why this disconnect is critical for us to study further is as we think about the context of the Great Resignation, flexibility ranks second only behind compensation when it comes to determining job satisfaction and 70% of employees who are not happy with their current levels of flexibility are open to looking for a new job in the next year. So now is the time for leaders to shift from trying to revert back to how things used to be in 2019 to leading with trust and transparency moving forward.

DAVE BRIGGS: Count me among those who would love some remote work, but ultimately you do what your boss says you should do. But we'll move on. Full-time remote work, you say, dropped from 21% to 18%. I'm curious, given our dynamics, do you think that 18% is a floor or will it continue to shrink as the economy tightens?

SHEELA SUBRAMANIAN: You know, it's funny that you're talking about the economic downturn. So what we're seeing from the data is that there's still a continued global labor shortage and unemployment is at 3.6%. And in my conversations with CEOs, talent continues to be the number one priority that's top of mind for them. So as we talk about what's next, it's critical for leaders to think about leaning into their talent. That's their number one competitive advantage.

And what that looks like is not addressing flexibility as a perk, it's a core requirement-- it's a core expectation for employees moving forward. And it's critical for leaders to continue to listen to their employees if they want to continue to stay relevant amidst the economic uncertainty. So while I can't answer what the numbers are going to look like three months from now, what we can continue to see is that people will seek employers and leaders who give them more choice in how they work rather than reverting to the command and control model.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: And so Sheela I want to ask you about inclusion and the different workers in different parts of the country and how this plays into some of the trends that you are seeing.

SHEELA SUBRAMANIAN: Yes, it's a great question. So what we're seeing is that future of work planning and diversity, equity, and inclusion, they go hand in hand. So what we're seeing from the data is that employees of color in the US, working parents, as well as women prefer flexibility, whereas-- what we see is executives, white employees, as well as male employees tend to want to go back into the office full-time.

And based on the data 82% of employees-- or, sorry, 82% of working mothers want some level of location flexibility. So this is why it's important for leaders to empower their middle managers to figure out what works best for their specific teams rather than reverting to top-down mandates because one-size-fits-all does not apply to work.

- All right, that's very interesting observations on the future of work. Thank you Sheela Subramanian. Great stuff.