5 Ways to Motivate Employees’ Return to the Office

Tips for returning to the office

Increasingly, employers of all sizes – in a wide variety of industries – are asking workers to return to the office. Ironically, one of those employers is Zoom, a remote-working lifeline for employers and employees when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

What about your agency? Are you pushing to have employees return to working on-site? Is your strategy working? Are employees happy about it?

Reduce your risk of losing talented staff and consider these suggestions on keeping employees engaged and, maybe, even eager to return.

1: Help employees understand your goals: If you believe having workers physically in the office is important, share your reasons with your employees. You’re more likely to get buy-in if they understand what’s behind your in-office mandate. Is it about service? Is it about technology (that employees don’t have when working remotely)? Is it about the camaraderie that comes with working side-by-side with others? Harvard Business Review featured an article in 2022 that said 85% of employees would be motivated to go into the office to rebuild team bonds. A similar percentage (84%) of employees would be motivated to return if they could (again) socialize with coworkers. Seventy-three percent of employees said they would go to the office if they knew their direct team members would be there.

2: Listen to employees and consider a hybrid work environment: There are numerous reports, from coast to coast, about employee resistance to a return to working in the office. Many employees have found working remotely increased their work/life balance and gave them greater flexibility. Now, they are hesitant to give those up. If you’re not already offering one, you might consider a hybrid work schedule. (That’s an arrangement where employees are in the office a few days weekly and remote on other days.) This helps employees limit their commuting time and expenses, while still allowing them the flexibility they want. Some school districts are considering (or already making plans to shift to) a shorter school week. The schools argue it can help them save money on transportation, food, and energy costs. For your team members with school-age children, Friday flexibility may soon be a new consideration. Ask your staff about their preferences.

3: Consider adding incentives to get people back. Have you thought about offering employees one or more added perks when they are on site? These might include a team lunch, weekly breakfast with bagels and fruit, hosting a birthday party for anyone celebrating that week (or month), and/or short Fridays (with a closure at 1:00 or 2:00) to give employees a jump-start on the weekend. If doing it all year is too much, maybe consider seasonal short Fridays (Thanksgiving to New Year’s, Memorial Day to Labor Day, or some other period).

4: Change your work environment: Now is an excellent time to re-evaluate your office space. If you are allowing employees to work a hybrid schedule (see above), you might consider creating work pods in your office. This is also referred to as “hoteling” where employees share work spaces like desks, cubicles, and offices – when they’re working different days. It’s an alternative to more traditional, permanent work space assignments for employees.

Some employers have found workers prefer pods or more open spaces over traditional cubicles. Other say they increase collaboration and productivity. Changes in your workspace may drive increased enthusiasm among your staff. Again, it’s a good idea to solicit feedback before implementing a switch. If workers don’t endorse the idea, a dramatic shift could alienate workers and drive more to consider leaving.

Another consideration is to be sure to allow for quiet conversation spaces. Customers and prospects who visit need to feel comfortable as well.

5: Prioritize safety. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reminds employers that safety is a big concern to workers. If workers don’t feel safe at work, they will continue to be hesitant to return. COVID, the flu, and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) are ongoing challenges facing workers and their families – especially as colder months force more of us inside.

Finding the right balance is key, as our communication and authenticity. Developing a mix of ideas can enable your agency to continue to deliver outstanding service to your customers, while keeping your employees happy.

Choose A True Partner for Your Agency

Just as your employees and customers count on you, it is important for you and your agency to have a partner on whom you can rely. Word & Brown has been working with brokers for more than 35 years. Talk with your Word & Brown representative about everything we have to offer – including our legendary “Service of Unequalled Excellence.” We offer a virtually unmatched portfolio with the products and carriers your clients want – backed by professionals committed to your success.

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