How to encourage employees back into the workplace
With the endemic in sight after nearly two years of working from home, there’s a lot of uncertainty about the right way to proceed regarding remote work versus a return to the office.
There’s a strong desire for more stability within the workplace in 2022, with many employers hoping to entice their teams back into the office space. This is a delicate balancing act between an employee’s need to feel safe and an employer’s desire to have a bit more visibility, ensure productivity and to be able to build culture.
Employees are increasingly wanting more flexible working arrangements and with a candidate rich marketplace, it’s more important than ever to retain current staff and to create an environment that will be attractive to new staff. So, here are some thought starters on how to move forward safely and productively.
Here are eight top tips
Hybrid Working: Select specific days where teams or individuals are required to be in the office. Ease them back in slowly with the balance that is right for your business. For example, two days in the office three days at home and then slowly build up the number of days in the office, if that is a priority for you.
Structure: Ensure there is a clear and set structure for who is required to work in the office, which days and what times so that other teams who many want to collaborate with them can plan their own schedule. Where possible set the expectations of the number of office days and then let teams manage the logistics based on their personal needs and wants.
Training: Some employees may have never even worked a day in your offices, others may be a little rusty after a few years away. So be prepared to patiently train your staff on your systems and processes.
Culture is King: Whether remote or in the office, a consistent culture is essential to employee satisfaction, productivity and ultimately retention. So now is a good time to check in with the examples that are being set and re-evaluate where needed. A few other ways to work on culture is through team building events, team lunches, opportunities to continue learning, celebrating milestones like employment anniversaries and birthdays and general praise where praise is due.
Communication: Make sure it’s clear up front what is required of your staff in 2022. Which aspects are negotiable and when things will come into play. Contracts may need to be updated and new contracts should reflect the expectations of new employees too. If things change, which we’ve learnt they regularly do at the moment, ensure clear and quick communication to staff so they are always on top of the company’s expectations.
Be Prepared for the Questions: Employees who have become accustomed to working from home and have adapted their productivity to suit their own environment may push back when asked to come back into the workplace. Be prepared with solutions to make the transition seamless. Some examples may be the cost of parking – could employees be rostered to be in the office on different days so they can share car spaces, or could you negotiate working flex hours around traffic or childcare pickup and so on. Through an open and supportive conversation, ask them what is causing their hesitation and try to workshop solutions that will work for both parties.
Office Refresh: If it’s within budget, consider sprucing up the office even just slightly so when employees return, they are excited by a new environment. This could be as simple as new office plants, artwork, kitchenware, stationary, a fresh coat of paint.
Covid Safe Environment: And of course, it goes without saying that we all need to ensure we have a Covid Safe environment – what this looks like for each workplace, will be unique to their setup. At a minimum, workplaces need to follow state and nationwide laws with QR Check-in Codes, vaccinations and readily available sanitiser and cleaning products and a regime to keep shared spaces clean.
Good luck with the new year and the new working environment with flexibility, communication, and safety at the top of the priority list.
If you need any help with finding the right candidates to work with your company, our specialised recruitment team are on hand to workshop solutions with you today.