If you are one of them, your transition back to the office may be completely out of your hands, but one very critical role you can play is communicating with your employees to understand how they feel about returning to work. Some employees are ready to get out of their homes and back into their normal work routine. Some have fallen in love with working remotely and hope to continue doing it, even after the country gets the pandemic under control. Others are genuinely scared about the potential risks of going back to work.
“For companies making return-to-office plans, now is a critical time to reach out to employees and ask for their feedback,” said Patrick Hyland, PhD, Director of Research and Development at Mercer. “By engaging in a dialogue with employees, leaders can gain valuable insight about their concerns and challenges, establish trust, foster engagement, and build a stronger sense of community.”
Are your employees empowered to share?
Communication right now is important, however, employees actually have to be given an opportunity to share. According to a new study from Mercer, just over half (56.24%) of respondents have accelerated their digital communication to better keep employees informed, and only about 38% are increasing use of employee listening tech, such as pulse surveys and online feedback tools. Even if your organizations is doing a fantastic job of communicating changes and status reports, your employees may not be given the opportunity to share their feedback.
Spend time now discussing their concerns
Mercer recommends that while your employees are still remote, make it a priority to start a two-way dialogue with them to understand their perspectives, share preliminary plans and solicit feedback. Listen carefully and document what they say. If you want them to open up, it’s critical that you don’t undermine their fears or lash out at them in any way. Regardless of your feelings about the pandemic or a transition back into the office, you cannot belittle their very real concerns. If you do, you will lose their trust, and it will be hard to build it back.
Instead, see the situation from their perspective, show genuine empathy and share their concerns with your own boss or HR. That feedback can be instrumental in helping the organization come up with an effective back to work plan.
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