A recent LaSalle Network study suggests that 70% of companies plan to have employees return to the office in the fall. While this transition is needed in many industries, re-entry can be anxiety inducing for many employees or members.
As we all navigate this difficult time, employers can help by doing the following things.
Begin with Empathy
These coming months, as we deal with the challenges of constantly changing rules for social distancing and restrictions, will require us all to be flexible and understanding towards one another. As companies begin to assess and plan for next steps in the business, have conversations that engage employees or members to address their fears and concerns. Listening to their needs, fears and struggles will allow leaders to better assess how to navigate this transition and will help employees or members feel seen and understood throughout this process. This guide offers helpful advice for leaders addressing employee uncertainty.
Perhaps you implement flexible work arrangements, allowing for work from home days or flexible start and end times for the workday. The LaSalle Network study found that many employers plan to implement hybrid models, calling for employees to return to the office a day or two a week as they begin this transition.
Address the Anxiety Many Employees & Members Will Feel
Many employees or members will have fears about being in proximity to others, or fears of returning to their commute. Others may feel that months of isolation have made it difficult to reacclimate to the office environment or find themselves longing for the comfort and flexibility of working within their own spaces. The actions companies take should reflect and acknowledge the anxieties of team members.
Clearly Communicate Expectations
Be as transparent as possible with team members. People will need ample time to process how these changes might affect them and prepare for the future. When implementing new changes, companies should consider seeking employee feedback where possible and give notice of upcoming changes well ahead of their implementation.
Create Engagement Opportunities
As many of us have been isolated to some extent over this past year, finding ways to re-engage employees becomes important in helping to maintain and build organizational culture.
Find ways to incorporate opportunities that rebuild your teams’ confidence, like shared experiences or events. Perhaps carry over successful team exercises from the past year, like themed meetings or virtual happy hours. Create a range of opportunities that allow for the different comfort levels of employees during this time, perhaps offering virtual and in-person events.
The coming days will be exciting for some, and uncomfortable for others. By engaging with your employees and teams consistently, moving forward will be easier for everyone.
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