How leaders can help make it easier for their employees to return to the office
A recent survey released by Hibob, a people management platform, showed that midsize businesses are particularly struggling to retain staff as offices around the world close due to the pandemic starting to reopen. According to the study, more than half of the employees of these companies are willing to quit their jobs if they are not given flexibility in their hours and where they work.
But, in truth, organizations of all kinds struggle to strike the right balance between a return to something office-like and the reality that work has changed forever. It involves acknowledging that a huge, sudden remote working experience turned out to be better than it was probably hoped – and in doing so, raised all kinds of questions about what working and how it looks like. .
Investment bank executives and others have spoken a lot about their worry of losing the mystery and camaraderie that has served them well in the past if staff are not expected to always be in the office. . However, it could be that the real motivation for these leaders is to worry about the extent to which traders, for example, comply with increasingly strict rules and regulations if they are out of sight.
Whatever the reason, it’s also increasingly evident that some leaders are working hard to maintain and even improve their corporate culture. Mike Morini, managing director of Workforce Software, another provider of human resource management tools, insists that there are “many paths to take to make a corporate culture stronger than it ever is. ‘has been in the past “.
He started by encouraging his management team (including himself) to “communicate too much” with each other and with company teams in order to know what is priority, who is responsible for what tasks and to recognize achievements. and good work. “That way no one gets lost or falls behind in the remote world we live in,” he says. “In a remote environment, it’s very difficult for employees to know if their work is appreciated, simply because of the lack of face-to-face interaction and camaraderie in the office. “
Morini adds that he seeks to live with a ‘listen first, speak later’ approach which he considers essential because it means that before decisions are made, leaders have heard employee feedback and adjusted approaches accordingly. “A business is ultimately not greater than the sum of its parts, so ensuring that your employees are satisfied and feel valued is essential to successfully leading and managing talent and supporting a strong corporate culture and positive employee experience during a difficult time. Another essential factor is providing the best work-life balance, as we all work from home.
In order to develop team spirit and a sense of belonging, companies must ensure that all workers, including those without a desk, are provided with information and productivity tools appropriate to their working environment. The integration of this information and these tools provides significant benefits to a business by enabling it to create personalized experiences, communications and better access to information. This, in turn, creates links across the organization.
In an age when so many people are working from home or out of the main office, it’s also essential that managers strive to ensure that employees strike a work-life balance, says Morini. The key to this is to check in with the employees. “The best managers know that cultivating a happy and healthy team is one of the most important factors in their own success. After more than a year of disruption in typical work environments and models, it is becoming increasingly difficult for managers to find creative ways to support their well-being and motivation. In order to combat this, it is important that employers stay in touch with their team during the working day to make sure they know what their employees are working on, can recognize accomplishments more regularly, and determine if they are meeting any challenges. problems with work. life balance or challenges of managing increased work or separation from work. Employers also need to take the initiative to find out what employees really feel. They should perform regular check-ups to assess the happiness levels and general condition of the team and be prepared to support prompt interventions to prevent any negative mental health outcomes or low productivity. This level of connection will show employees that managers genuinely care about their well-being and help retain top talent.
Additionally, organizations must continue to do everything possible to support their employees and deliver benefits that make a real difference. The health and wellness benefits are critical at this time. Companies should consider implementing wellness programs that allow employees to take advantage of stress-relieving initiatives, such as exercise, yoga, meditation, and personal health coaching. Other benefits may be showing your appreciation to your employees by giving them an extra day off or relieving you of long meetings. It’s also important that employees are encouraged to take off, even though they may be reluctant to take vacations due to travel restrictions. “It’s so important for employees to understand that getting away can increase their productivity in the long run,” says Morini.
During the pandemic, some have expressed concern about the software that monitors employees. But Morini argues that workforce management systems have played an important role in supporting the safety, well-being and work-life balance of employees. For example, fatigue management systems monitor hours worked, tasks performed, breaks taken and time off scheduled to flag employees who are at risk of becoming tired and exhausted.
He adds that as businesses begin to return to the office in the coming months, it is critical that they make the appropriate investments in technology that leverages data to make it easier to spot a potential issue with an employee, to capture employee feedback. frequently and to enable managers to take action. It will not only have a significant impact on the employee experience, showing them that they are valued and supported and that their needs are met. This will ultimately increase productivity in all areas of a business.
But even with such initiatives, some people may feel uncomfortable returning to the office. Nora Tobin, executive coach and nutrition and wellness specialist who also runs an organic coffee business, stresses the importance of employees knowing that they are not alone in their anxieties.
She offers five tips for overcoming fears about returning to the office effectively and for improving performance and productivity once there:
1. List the benefits of returning to work in the office. Creating a list of benefits for returning to work in the office can serve as a way to mentally prepare for the important and rather uncertain transition. Some benefits may include the ability to reconnect to your social networks and have fewer distractions that can increase your productivity. Another might be to have a stronger line between work and family life.
2. Create a routine of healthy habits in the transition phase. Workers nervous about returning to the office should spend time on the things in their lives that are important to them. What this entails will depend on the individual, but examples could include time to prepare healthy meals or walks in the morning.
3. Make the transition one step at a time. People nervous about returning to a full office should take advantage of the opportunity to work remotely for part of the week. This should provide the opportunity to find the balance and time to adjust to returning to the office.
4. Be intentional by practicing what has worked best for you while working at home and in the office. Taking the time to listen to themselves and identify the habits that help them feel happy and healthy is an important step in preparing individuals for success during this time of transition. It is also important that they take note of what they liked and disliked about work at home and in the office.
5. Be respectful of people’s boundaries. Many people have strong, and sometimes conflicting, opinions about how the pandemic has been and should be handled. By setting a good example of respecting diverse opinions in the office, we hope everyone will feel much more comfortable in these still uncertain times.