If there is one thing that COVID revealed as it relates to the world of work, some employees can be productive working outside the office. However, is a fully remote schedule best for every worker and every company? Perhaps not. So what does it take to develop a Return to Office (RTO) plan that employees will embrace?
We know that love is a powerful human emotion. When applied to where people spend most of their waking hours, how employees feel about their company can have significant ramifications. A high level of Employee Sentiment is needed to have a successful RTO experience. Employee Sentiment measures how employees feel about the company. In order to increase the likelihood of employees loving your organization, implement these strategies as you develop your plan.
Here are the seven ways your employees will love your Return to Office plan:
1. Collaboration and Co-Creation
Creating buy-in is crucial to ensure your employees will love the company’s Return to Office plan. Employees want to be part of the process, not just given a directive with no opportunity to provide input. Allow employees opportunities to collaborate on a plan that they co-create along with the company’s leadership. Don’t just say you want to hear from employees. Actively involve them in the process and listen to what they are sharing.
2. Vision for the Future
By articulating a clear vision for the future, you can connect your plan to the company’s goals and individual career goals. Don’t leave employees floundering or feeling like you don’t trust them working from home. Instead, cast a clear, compelling vision for the future enhanced by returning to the Office.
When you respect your employees, they grow to trust and love the organization to do what is in the best interest of everyone. Employees who love their company want it to succeed. Help employees feel trusted, respected, and heard as a person.
4. Alignment of Values
Embedded in your organizational culture are values that your company holds dear. Connect these to your Return to Office plans. Discuss how the values align with returning to the Office. Ensure there is consistency between what the organization espouses as its values vs. how they live them. If you want your employees to love your workplace, make the connections to values obvious.
5. Achieving goals
To help your employees embrace the Return to Office plan and love your organization, be sure to connect the program to the employees achieving their personal or career goals. Answer the “what’s in it for me?” question to help people navigate change. By clearly articulating how returning to the Office will help people reach individual goals, which will, in turn, help the company meet its goals, employees will understand the personal relevance of the change. Ensure that each employee feels like their work matters to the company and explain how returning to the Office will help them achieve those goals.
Successful companies will be hiring post-pandemic. Use your Return to Office plan to attract the best talent. To showcase how your organization cares for workers, highlight how the RTO plan solicited employee input. Articulate how RTO is aligned with the vision and goals and with concern for employee success. By doing so, you showcase how the plan will lead to more success for everyone, which can help you in recruiting efforts and hiring top talent.
There is currently a big focus on attracting diverse talent, which will promote diversity of ideas. Be sure that your Return to Office plan links to your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion organizational commitments.
Leaders face unprecedented challenges as they aim to develop a plan for what work will look like after the pandemic. If you want to become a well-loved workplace, you need to consider your employees’ perspectives when making decisions. Instead of utilizing a top-down approach, involve others in the decision-making process to ensure a diverse set of voices.
Employee Sentiment, or how employees feel, is critical in whether they love the organization and are committed to it. Instead of adopting an attitude of “This is best for us,” embrace a collaborative philosophy of “We sought your input. We listened. We built this RTO plan with you and your well-being in mind.” Incorporating the seven suggestions listed above will help ensure that your employees love returning to the Office.
One of the Top 100 Coaches, and Founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute, partner to Newsweek on America’s Most Loved Workplaces, and the author of more than 10 books on best practices in leadership and management, including Change Champion’s Field Guide, In Great Company, and Best Practices in Talent Management. Thought leaders and executives voted him as one of Global Gurus Top 10 Organizational Culture thinkers worldwide.