After two years and counting into the Covid-19 pandemic, some employers are trying to coax workers to return to the office. If employees aren’t ready for “life as we knew it,” they’re proving they are prepared to walk away.
In reaction to the pandemic, the way we work and collaborate has been thoroughly shaken up. For the first time, we saw lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, forcing both employers and employees to adapt at a record pace. Despite the initial stresses of adapting to new working systems like video calls and messaging apps, many have come to rely on their work-from-home lifestyle.
Employees are enjoying not having to slog through a twice-daily commute, they can work in the privacy of their home, and they can take micro-breaks to spend some time throughout the day with their families. Remote working is not going to go away. Employers who embrace that fact will win out in the end.
I was on a video call the other day and was perplexed when I saw someone dialing in from their office, with co-workers walking past them in the background. A scene like that has become highly unfamiliar. People have gotten used to working from home—and the idea that others work from home, too.
In fact, employers insisting on people returning to the office has led to workers leaving their jobs in record numbers. This phenomenon has been coined as the “Great Resignation” in the U.S.
The staggering number of resignations in the U.S. opens up opportunities to European employers. Right now, there is a situation where many jobs are available that cannot be filled, even though many highly talented people are looking for a job.
Why? Because the employees who left their jobs are looking for better opportunities. Unless U.S. employers suddenly step up their offerings, I believe the hiring game will continue to drift toward the European market.
What can European employers do?
Embrace the opportunity! According to several studies, people are resigning en masse to seek things like a better work-life balance, a flexible schedule and more safety from Covid-19. Some are even staying home because they suffer from Long Covid after an infection. They may have the energy to work but not to travel to the office every day.
For many, especially the younger generations, the pandemic has illuminated problems that significantly impact Americans—issues such as the lack of access to healthcare and sick leave. Even for those with access to healthcare, the high prices in the U.S. can still be preventative to seeking care.
Perhaps more than others, the younger generations have realized that they can ask for more and go elsewhere to get it, including across the globe. You might be able to tap into that talent by hiring Americans to work for you remotely from the U.S. or even by relocating them to another country.
Talking from a European perspective, we can offer better access to health care, paid sick leave, paid vacation time, family leave and generally more secure jobs. What’s more, in most of Europe, we offer all these perks as a jumping-off point. That’s before any further salary negotiations can even be started. That’s a golden opportunity for many Americans in the U.S.
Is there a downside for Americans to move abroad for work?
One thing to keep in mind, specifically for U.S. citizens, is they must file a U.S. tax return annually, even if they live abroad. Being required to file U.S. taxes can put a damper on their enthusiasm to move overseas: Not only do they have to figure out a foreign tax system, but also how it works for the U.S. with foreign income(s) in different currencies, maybe even different tax years (looking at you, U.K., Australia, New Zealand).
At MyExpatTaxes, 22% of our workforce in our headquarters are U.S. citizens, presumably making us the biggest employer of U.S. expats (in relative numbers) in Austria besides the U.S. Embassy. As the creator of software for U.S. expat tax returns, we have a leg up here, but taking this problem off your existing or potential U.S. expat employee should be a priority for you, too.
I’d highly recommend connecting your new (and existing) American arrivals with qualified tax services who specialize in American income tax filing for citizens abroad. It’s one more small thing you can do to entice highly-motivated American workers to join your team—and stay there.
Remote work is here to stay.
Remote work is here to stay. The best thing you can do is equip your employees with the tools they need to be successful remotely and the benefits that help them keep their quality of life. You could even find your next team members joining you from the U.S.