CHARLOTTE – Workers’ preferences when it comes to work environment, perks, and benefits have changed, a new study finds.

The 2021 Allspring Retirement study revealed that workers are particularly concerned about retirement, returning to an office environment, and healthcare coverage, as the global pandemic may be a factor in retirements from the labor market.

According to a statement issued by Allspring Global Investments, only 23% of those currently in the workforce believe they’ll have enough money in retirement to last them more than 20 years, while 83% of current retirees with a pension were confident their retirement savings would last through their retirement, a difference of 60 percentage points.

And retirements may be changing the labor force.  The labor force participation rate has barely moved in months, despite unemployment continuing to fall.

Labor shortage: Blame the boomers, not ‘lazy’ millennials

Quit, not return

Three in ten workers, across all respondents, reported that they would rather quit their job than return to an in-person office again, the survey found.  An even higher percentage of younger workers and workers in urban areas reported they would rather quit than return.  Workers are also considering relocating, with 28% reporting that they already have relocated or they plan to relocate within the next two years.

For those who say they’ve relocated or plan to do so, leading factors driving that decision were reported to be seeking a lower cost of living (36%), lower housing costs (34%), and to raise children (32%).

A record number of workers quit jobs in September 2021, and then again, in November 2021, even more workers resigned from their job.

‘I quit:’ Record 4.5 million Americans quit jobs in November

Healthcare options affecting retirement decisions

The survey also found that the cost of healthcare and the structure of how an employee or a family can access healthcare continues to be a concern for workers and for those who’ve already retired.  According to the survey, nearly half of workers, 48%, reported they would retire earlier if their healthcare coverage was not dependent on their employer, though 62% of Gen Z and 58% of Millennials said they would make this choice if healthcare wasn’t tied to their employment.

Job seekers want opportunity, health protection – not just more money, report says