As pandemic restrictions continue to slowly decrease, businesses are facing the challenge of why, when and how to consider returning to the office. While some managers and employees are eager to get back, many are resisting the transition. In order for organizations to stay on top, it’s critical to have the right strategy in place that not only considers employee preferences, but one that also maintains and aligns with the culture and overall vision. And, as these transitions continue, it’s safe to say things aren’t black and white nor will they happen overnight.
In order to ensure your return to the office strategy is aligned with both the people and the culture of your organization, we have to start from the beginning. This means rethinking talent strategies, reconfiguring structures and re-recruiting your employees.
Considering the amount of changes businesses and individuals have experienced the past year and a half, it’s fair to say work as we have known it will never be the same again. This includes the traditional idea of going into an office every day to work. A recent survey by Robert Half concluded that 1 in 3 employees would consider finding a new job if required to return to the office full-time. This number is proof that employees aren’t looking to return to the way things were. Now, whether employees actually leave remains to be seen. However, leaders should take this very seriously; the importance of creating an inclusive strategy is crucial for employee engagement, motivation and even loyalty. The needs of everyone have to be considered, not just the needs of the organization. After all, your employees will have a direct impact on the success of the re-opening strategy.
What exactly do we mean when we say you need to “re-recruit” your employees?
Consider that employee preferences have been reset. While they may have chosen your organization for the work environment, collaboration, purpose, etc. why should employees stay with you moving forward? Just like when new hires are recruited for the first time and shown what it means to work for the organization, the same should happen when going back to the office for the first time. What used to work for some people, may no longer work for them today. Re-recruiting employees means assessing the situation for each individual, creating trust and transparency to ensure people feel heard and understood, and encouraging open, honest communication from all areas of the business. It also means reminding employees of why they chose your organization in the first place.
How can you re-recruit your employees?
You engage them in the return to the office conversation. Below are five questions you can ask.
- What concerns or fears do you have about returning to the office?
- This past year, what have you missed about working onsite/in the office?
- How has our organizational culture changed since the start of the pandemic?
- What can we as an organization do to continue supporting you, personally and professionally?
- Do our mission, vision and values still resonate with you? (This question is especially important if your organization pivoted your business strategy as a result of the pandemic.)
Why should you care about re-recruiting your employees right now?
Return to the office plans are one of the most important discussions that leaders and organizations are currently having. As we’ve mentioned, how you re-open is going to be critical to your future success. Employees don’t want any new surprises and more uncertainty going forward. With many organizations choosing to adopt a 100% virtual model for the foreseeable future, job opportunities are endless for employees. This means that they have options, and as the Robert Half survey points out, leaving your organization is a possibility. This is why it matters that you re-recruit your employees now. Plus, engaging them in the dialogue and decision making helps them buy into the plan sooner rather than later, easing the transition.
How can you ensure your reopening plans continue to attract your current (and new talent)?
There isn’t a right or wrong solution as to how organizations should structure their return to the office plans. Not only does this make it difficult to determine what strategy is best, but it also shows how important it is to get this right (or as close to right as possible) the first time around. It’s also important to remember that there is a right and wrong solution based on your business strategy and culture. That’s why partnering with someone who is an expert in this area is critical.
Like many other areas, the need to hire a full-time resource to assist with reopening plans is not financially prudent. So, how can you obtain the expertise you need at a reasonable cost? The demand for independent consultants from the gig economy is growing and is a great place to start. With so many jobs and industries changing on a monthly basis, many skilled workers have chosen to pursue a more flexible work experience. These highly-skilled consultants can help you in creating a reopening plan that is aligned with your strategy, culture and employee preferences, helping ensure employees continue to choose your organizations versus finding a new opportunity elsewhere. This is a win-win for both independent workers looking for their next opportunity, and organizations looking to benefit from diverse talent, increased innovation and a high-performing business model.
Remember, as you start to think about how your organization will reopen, re-recruiting your employees and understanding their fears, preferences and needs will be critical.
If you’re looking for a partner to help with your re-opening strategy, we can help. At Gig Talent, our top-notch leadership coaches and consultants have the ability to help you analyze, design and implement return to the office plans that keep employees engaged while helping achieve business results. Email us today to find out how we can help – firstname.lastname@example.org.