How to Retain Staff During the Great Back to Office Upheaval

 How to Retain Staff During the Great Back to Office Upheaval

After turmoil and uncertainty for far too long, things are starting to open up again and it’s Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, back to office we go! Good news for employers and employees alike.

Or is it? Some employees would rather quit than head back to office, and others won’t even consider applying for vacant positions if they are strictly office based. Where does that leave employers? Who, after two years of upheaval, are desperate to do what’s best for both their staff and their bottom line.

Here are some practical ways for employers to retain staff during the great back to office upheaval

Focus on Flexibility

Flexibility has become a key bargaining chip in the back to office upheaval. There are two main kinds of flexibility: Workplace flexibility, which pertains to work location, and flexible work hours, but if certain positions don’t lend themselves to either there are still ways to inject flexibility into a role. Consider the option of micro flexibility, which allows your employee the opportunity to commit to a full-time position with the knowledge she will be given the freedom to attend to family emergencies should they arise. Or be generous with time off. Provide sufficient days paid leave to cover family vacations or ensure moms can make it to their children’s school functions. Leaders and managers should be having conversations with their teams to identify which types of flexibility best suit their needs based on their circumstances.

Listen and Learn

Which leads us onto our second point: listen and learn. Employees' needs and expectations have changed and if you are going to retain and attract top staff you need to engage with them about their views and opinions around the future of work. Be open to implementing their suggestions wherever you can as a way of showing that you are committed to creating an environment with a strong focus on work-life integration. When staff feels heard and seen, job satisfaction increases and staff turnover decreases.

Incentivise the Return to Office

If the nature of the role demands staff in-office, consider some incentives which will make it that much easier to be back on site. There are many employees, mothers in particular, who are reluctant to return to the office due to the struggle for childcare. Chat to your staff about ways you could support them during the transition. For example, you could take the lead of some other companies who have hired tutors and set up empty conference rooms as study halls for employee’s children who are still studying remotely.

Beef up the Benefits

Once you have engaged with your staff you’ll have a better idea of where their priorities and needs lie, that way you can start to introduce benefits which really count. There are options like fewer working hours to compensate for the commute, or a more comprehensive contribution to a health insurance policy. However, bear in mind, benefits don’t have to be financially motivated. You could also consider laying out clearer career paths for your staff as a way of making them aware of their future at the company. Team leaders could invite individual staff members for regular lunches or breakfast dates as a way to connect and contribute to a positive office culture. Lastly, don’t negate the uplifting effect of really simple yet valuable benefits like a more casual dress code or a decent coffee machine and a bowl of fresh fruit in the communal kitchen.

Staff turnover is always going to be a reality during the back to office upheaval, but if you are expecting staff to make a long term commitment to your company you need to give them good reasons to stay. With the right communication and commitment from both employers and employees, the result will be a more productive and positive workplace for us all.


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