COVID-19 is, in a way, a thing of the past. However, the impact of COVID-19 on the workforce continues to affect business owners, especially small business owners. As we’ve geared towards normalcy of life before the pandemic, employers are looking to bring their employees back into the office. However, convincing employees to leave the comfort of their home office and return to the office can be a challenge.
Return To Office (RTO) Efforts
New data shows employers are taking a two-pronged approach, which includes the following:
- Offering incentives to make the office more inviting
- Cracking down on those who fail to comply
Eight hundred employers who were surveyed in December plan to offer happy hours, provide catered meals for their employees or upgrade their office space to incentivize employees to come back into their office. However, 40% of these surveyed employees are less likely to offer raises, and 37% are less likely to offer childcare benefits as incentives. In addition, 95% said employees who don’t comply will suffer the following consequences:
- 57% will see their bonus affected
- 54% will see their benefits affected
- 53% can expect a reduction in pay
- 33% will be fired
Alongside these efforts, 79% track employee office attendance using badge swipes. Ninety-one percent of employers require employees to come into the office at least once per month, while 75% will require employees to go in weekly.
What The Employees Are Saying
At the end of the day, your employees are your biggest asset. You want to ensure you listen to what they have to say and what they want. In response to employers' actions, employees are fighting back against their employers’ RTO plans. For example, Amazon and Disney workers have been petitioning for their employers to reconsider the mandates they have in place. Amazon responded by telling employees if they didn’t comply, they would be blocked from promotions.
Employers must consider why employees prefer working from home. Companies need to provide RTO incentives. Compensation is how to get people back to the office. Think about it. Working from home saves money on food, gas, car maintenance, clothing, and more, giving workers time back in their day without a commute. While catered meals are a good start, compensation for commuting, childcare, clothing, and more would go much further.
Strategies To Ensure A Smooth RTO
The transition back to the office represents a pivotal phase for employers and employees. Encouraging employees to return to the office requires a delicate balance between addressing concerns, promoting a safe environment, and fostering a sense of purpose and belonging. We’ve compiled a handful of strategies business owners can utilize to facilitate a seamless return:
- Clear and compassionate communication: Transparent communication is the key to a successful return. Engage with employees proactively, addressing their concerns and providing comprehensive information about the safety measures and protocols put in place. Express empathy and understanding towards individual needs, fostering an environment where employees feel heard and supported.
- Flexible work arrangements: Recognize and accommodate the new preferences for flexibility. Offering hybrid work models allows employees to ease into the transition gradually. By providing options for remote work or flexible schedules allows individuals to balance their personal and professional lives effectively.
- Emphasize safety and well-being: Prioritize health and safety. Implement safety protocols aligned with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. If bringing your employees back to the workforce is new for you since the COVID-19 pandemic, employees might be hesitant about the new surroundings you’re throwing them into. Ensure a clean and sanitized workspace and provide necessary protective equipment to instill confidence in employees about their well-being in the office environment.
- Revamp the office experience: Reimagine the office as a space conducive to collaboration, creativity, and social interaction. Create an inviting workplace atmosphere by incorporating elements that encourage connection and teamwork. Organize team-building activities, workshops, or social events that unite people, fostering camaraderie and a shared purpose.
- Leadership by example: Leadership plays a pivotal role in setting the tone for the return to office. As a business owner, you must lead by example by being visible, engaged, and supportive. Demonstrating a commitment to the office transition encourages employees to foster a collective sense of purpose.
- Employee involvement and feedback: Involve employees in the decision-making process. Encourage feedback and suggestions regarding the RTO strategy. This involvement not only empowers employees but also creates a sense of ownership and commitment to the well-being of the workplace.
Implementing these strategies allows business owners to pave the way for a smoother and more receptive return to the office. Embracing flexibility, prioritizing safety, fostering communication, and nurturing a sense of community are instrumental in ensuring employees feel valued and supported during this transitional phase.
How Partnering With A PEO Can Help With Your RTO Plan
In an era where business landscapes rapidly evolve, leveraging the expertise and support of a professional employer organization (PEO) is a strategic advantage for businesses navigating complex HR challenges. A PEO like GMS serves as a partner, offering a comprehensive suite of HR solutions that streamline operations, mitigate risks, and elevate the employee experience. By entrusting your HR functions to GMS, you unlock the freedom to focus on core competencies and growth initiatives.
A PEO becomes an invaluable partner through access to HR expertise, compliance guidance, robust benefits packages, and streamlined administrative packages. At the end of the day, a partnership with GMS isn’t just an investment in HR support – it’s an investment in long-term efficiency, resilience, and sustainable success. Contact us today to learn more.