Business leaders are facing a daunting task which is causing great anxiety and unrest among them - it is the issue of getting employees back to the office. Even though they're trying every trick in the book and even outside, it is seemingly very tough to get employees to say yes. With many such questions looming ahead of them, many leaders are just giving up, unsure of the future.
In this blog, I am highlighting some important points that pretty much no one is ready to think about along with some ways to make this mammoth task seem slightly easier to take on.
Why are employees not willing to come back to work?
After endless employee surveys, remote engagement tactics by HR and People Operations, we're slowly inching towards the end of it all. While most employees still feel that working from home is the best solution or maybe even coming to the office twice, thrice a week - business leaders are still unsure of whether they will really come.
One problem is that while this data point holds true at the moment, it may not be the case after a few months. Completely relying on surveys is one part of the story and understanding managers' viewpoints are also necessary as highlighted in this HBR article.
Most leaders are now carving their organization's way back to the office by having the right kind of infrastructure, temperature scanning machines, contactless attendance, safety guidelines in place and all that is required but an important consideration is also if employees should be fully vaccinated if they plan to come to work.
The OTHER considerations for leaders while bringing employees back to work:
Most employees may want to come back to work at some point or the other but have inhibitions since they're unsure how their companies will handle safety and emergencies. Making sure you have their trust could help your employees feel safe and sound. Spend time talking to managers about how the office will provide them with all the safety measures and how you will plan to take the utmost care of the teams. If managers feel confident in the mission, it will be easier to gain the trust of most employees.
Find out what your employees like about the office
Try to talk to your employees and understand what is it that they liked about the office or what is it that they miss. Understanding this aspect will help you get a better framework of how you should plan your return and make sure that your employees get what they like just as before. It will show your care towards them and make them feel good about returning to the office.
Work with cheerleaders
There may certainly be some cheerleaders or volunteers in many teams that want to go back to the office desperately and these could be people who are tired of isolation, deprived of social contact, tired of managing household chores or whatever the reason may be. They can help you help other employees in understanding why working from the office will be a better solution. They could help convert the naysayers.
Reach out for organizational support
Your people are your best bet in preparing for a smooth journey in returning to the office, not just in terms of health facilities but even as an emotional journey. For many, it could mean a lot of anxiety and stress coming back to the office after a long time. Ask your managers and the HR team to sit together and understand what may be the consequences of a return and set up counseling sessions to make sure all your employees know the pros and cons which can help them get some relief from the odd feeling they might be going through.
Business leaders need to think of emotional values and sentiments of employees perhaps more than physical safety (since that's a given) if planning a return to work strategy. You may have the infrastructure in place but if your employees don't feel happy about coming back, you may need to change your approach rather than making it a forced decision.