How Your Company Culture Can Help Boost Employee Morale and Retention During Your Return to Work
The pandemic has transformed work and life for us all. For some employees, there was never a work from home situation (like for nurses and food industry employees).
For a large section of the workforce, though, they got to experience some of the perks of working from home. And the thought of returning to in-person work has probably ruffled some feathers and stressed some employees out.
You probably have a mixed bag. Some of your employees have probably felt isolated and are excited at the prospect of returning to the office. But you probably have also heard from others who the thought of in-person work makes them a little less than enthusiastic.
By the numbers, low morale upon return to work is an issue. According to a recent Paychex survey, they found that nearly two in five workers began experiencing low morale since heading back to the worksite. And as we all know from experience, low morale in the office can snowball out of control and only get worse.
So is there something you can do to benefit all your employees by boosting morale and improving retention? (We are sure you don’t want to be worrying about a tidal wave of resignations…)
The answer is yes! But a big part of it has to do with your company culture and just how you handle your company’s return to work.
Communication is Key
We know you’ve heard it a thousand times so you’ll probably agree that good communication is often the solution to many office problems. A sudden change in a team’s work environment can take a toll on morale. Plus, a lot of the anxiety your employees are feeling is probably centered around health concerns and exposure to the coronavirus as the pandemic continues to be a concern.
Start by clearly communicating your return to work plan. Include COVID protocols for safety, such as if employees need to have their temperature checked at the door or wear a mask. Also include policies about what happens when an employee tests positive. Knowing these things ahead of time can help your employees feel more prepared and for many, safer, knowing you are taking their health seriously. And when you show you care, that can really help boost employee morale.
You might also consider setting up a point person who can speak with employees to help alleviate any concerns or answer questions that arise from your return to work plan.
To reduce turnover, consider offering some of the things that employees may be looking for, such as flexible working hours or hybrid work. People got a taste of working from home and a lot of them like it! And if they can’t get what they want from your company, they’ll look elsewhere for those perks. It might be a lot to take this on in a case-by-case scenario, but allowing people the ability to “customize” their return to work shows that you care not just about productivity and your bottom line, but that you care about the human beings that work for you.
Ease Into It
As we previously mentioned, sudden changes in the work environment can make morale dip. Don’t go from all five days at home to all five days at work. Help your employees by easing them back to in-person work. Start by having people come in on a rotating schedule twice a week and working from home the other three days. Gradually increase it back to five days a week in-person, unless you’ve previously agreed upon a hybrid schedule.
There may be some restrictions as you ease back to in-person work or have people out on a hybrid, but try and do some team building days to get everyone reconnecting and engaging again. While video call meetings are easy, face-to-face can help boost communication, which is essential to effective teamwork and positive group morale.
The pandemic put a lot of things on the back burner. There were cancelled plans, forgotten goals and crushed expectations that left a lot of people feeling uninspired. Invest in the personal development of your employees, which will allow them to regain control over their professional lives. Not only does personal development help boost employee job satisfaction
Sometimes it’s the little things that can really lift the mood of your employees. Start off the morning with coffee and a breakfast bar so employees can catch up. Or give them a small thank you gift for all their hard work. Or maybe your very own Happy Hour Friday after work.
Some other things that might take more investment, but can be a real in-office perk include creating a room where employees can decompress by doing yoga, meditation or prayer. The return to work may be stressful for some so they’ll thank you for that perk with higher levels of productivity because they are less anxious.