Employee Retention Strategies Now You Are Back In The office

How to Keep Your People in the New Normal Workplace

As the COVID pandemic recedes and the UK economy starts to return to some sort of normality (whatever the new normal will be), you will need to refine your employee retention strategies.

There is potential for a clash of expectations between employers and employees. employees have demonstrated that they can work effectively from home whilst employers want people to start returning to the office.  Here’s the problem:

If you want your people back in the office, can you afford to lose a quarter of them, while making many more unhappy and more likely to accept an offer elsewhere? What employee retention strategies should you employ when your employees don’t want to be in the office?

Should Your Employees Return to Work?

Before designing your employee retention strategies, you should first assess if your employees must return to the office. The CIPD recommend that you carry out three key tests when planning the return to work:

  1. Is it essential for productivity or wellbeing?
  2. Is it sufficiently safe to return to work (you gave a duty of care to identify and manage risks)?
  3. Is it mutually agreed between you and your employee?

Speak to Your Employees About Returning to Work

The first step to take is to speak to your employees about the return to work. You may decide to send a standard letter to do this, though a better method is to ask your managers to reach out personally. This personal connection will help to reinforce that you care. If you decide on the latter, you will need to coach your managers in what to say and how to handle concerns.

You will need to:

1.     State the case for the return to work

Demonstrate why it is necessary for people to come back into the office:

  • Is there work that cannot be done from home?
  • Will collaborative projects work more effectively?
  • Is there CPD or training that is needed and can only be presented inhouse?
  • Do client meetings need to be conducted in the office?
  • Are there concerns over data security?
  • Are there wellbeing issues that are resolved by people being in the office and interacting with their colleagues?

These are just a few examples of questions that your case for returning to work should answer.

2.     Detail the COVID safety measures you have put in place

Review your workspaces, and consider if employees can maintain a safe distance between each other. You may need to put up protective screening, and you will need to consider how to manage meetings, interviews, etc.

You should supply hand sanitizer, at entrances and exits, at workspaces, and at lifts. Post notices of the importance to clean hands. Before reopening your building, consider if you should have a deep clean carried out.

You may need to provide face masks and other PPE, and should provide (as a minimum) notes about safety procedures that your employees should follow.

Other safety measures that you should consider and speak about with your employees include extra ventilation and regular hygienic cleaning of keyboard, mouse, monitor, desk, chair, and door handles.

3.     Discuss concerns

Finally, discuss any concerns an employee may have. Having discussed the need to return to work and the measures you are taking, many concerns should have been eased. You should show empathy with your employees about their individual concerns, and there may be a little compromise that needs to be made from both sides.

6 Employee Retention Strategies to Put in Place Now

Over and above the three actions discussed, here are six more tactics that will help you retain reticent return-to-workers:

1.     Welcome your employees back before they return

It may be a long time since your employees have spoken to some of their colleagues. A pre-return-to- work virtual icebreaker may help them reacquaint with their team. Set a time for an online team meeting. While you should discuss the return to work, as important is to get people talking as they would around the coffee machine. You might consider sending drinks or a  welfare pack to each employee’s house as a ‘welcome back’ gift.

2.     Be open and mindful

Many of your people will be fearful of returning to work. They will look to you and your managers for guidance and support.

Your managers should be mindful that, for many people, this will be new territory to them. They will behave differently to when they were last with their colleagues. If a person has concerns, allow them to voice them. Be frequent with updates, and remove as much doubt from their working day as you can.

3.     Consider staggered days

People’s concerns are likely to include the possibility of infection during their commute, especially if they travel by train or bus. One way to reduce this worry is to have staggered start and finish times. Would your people be willing to start earlier or finish later, and would this work within your business?

4.     Thank your employees in novel ways

Half-days off. Free office snacks.  Assistance with CPD. An Employee of the Week award. All great ways to reward your people for returning to the office, demonstrating the behaviours you expect, and for staying with you. But could you do more?

People have been locked away long enough. How about a ‘bonus’ on pay day? A gift card or coupon towards a staycation, perhaps? Maybe you could afford a personalized gift – books, shopping vouchers, a voucher for a delivery from their local restaurant?

5.     Introduce job crafting

Every employee has work they love and work they don’t like. Sit down and speak to your employees about their work routines. Discover what they love to do and what they loathe. Consider ways that you could give more of what they like doing to them.

Ask your employees what their career aspirations are, too, and find ways to provide work that supports them in achieving their goals. Give them more autonomy over how they schedule their tasks and how they complete them.

Do all of this with them. This is called job crafting, and it is one of the best ways to engage people in their work – and highly engaged employees are far less likely to leave.

6.     Hire people who want to work at work and are a good cultural fit

Despite all your retention efforts, you may still find that some employees will leave. Should this happen, look upon it not as a problem but as an opportunity to hire better. Seek out candidates who are good cultural fits. People who align with your values, your commitment to your people, and your business ethics.

When you hire the right people, they will boost your productivity and stay with you longer. When you interview candidates, make sure you discuss your commitment to the safety of your employees and how you reward them for being valuable members of your workplace family.

Where do you find the talent who will help to take your business to the next level in the new normal? Contact Lime Talent for the best in FMCG search & selection.