COVID has turned the world of work on it’s head, there’s no doubt about that. This week sees many businesses reopening, including pubs, non-essential retail and gyms. Hundreds of thousands of workers who were previously furloughed are returning to work for the first time in months.
Over the summer, we’ll slowly start to see office workers and close-contact industries return too. After over a year of working from home, distanced from colleagues and meeting on Zoom, things will slowly return to normal.
Or will it be normal? With the mass disruption COVID caused, many employers will now be faced with a variety of issues such as:
- Workers who preferred working from home.
- Workers who have realised they need more flexible terms to accommodate for childcare etc.
- Workers who have relished a better work/life balance.
- Individuals who are facing increased anxiety from a return to social norms.
- Workers who have realised they prefer an office environment, which may be difficult if you’ve decided to forgo the office.
This is only a small sample of the range of discussions employers will be having in the coming months.
With employee needs and wants changing rapidly, how can a company encourage loyalty?
We’ve thought about the topic at length here at NTG, and here are a few of our considerations:
If You Can’t Offer Working From Home, Offer Other Benefits
Consider what it is that makes working from home so appealing to your employees and try to replicate some of those benefits within the office environment. You could:
- Create a comfortable work environment with options such as standing desks, sofa areas, private rooms and breakout spaces if possible, so employees can work in a way that suits them.
- Enrich breaktimes with supplementary healthy snacks, or offer a treat lunch every now and then.
- Encourage workers to get away from the desk every now and then for a walk or some outside time.
- Allow employees to wear more comfortable clothes, consider whether you really need a very strict dress code.
- Offer staff training or fun activities in the workplace. Run monthly sessions, bring in tutors or even consider running a class such as yoga every now and then. Learning is a great way to enrich a worker’s day.
Use Analysis To See If the Pandemic Affected Productivity
Many employers have concerns that working unsupervised from home leads to a lack in productivity. Task someone in sales or accounting to figure out whether that really was the case.
Other industries such as restaurants or retail will also need to analyse if staff productivity or motivation is down on the return to work – consider an anonymous questionnaire to get to the bottom of it.
The important thing is not to punish your staff if things are truly down – they’ve been through a lot this past year and it may have had detrimental effects on their mental health.
Good mental health is the foundation to happy, productive workers. To show that you care, your company should have a robust mental health policy in place, and should even consider mental health training for a few or all of it’s workers.
Employees are bound to be more loyal and it’s proven in studies that workplace output often goes up when employers address mental health across their workforce.
Invest In People
After so long spent on furlough, returning to work may leave people questioning their life choices and exploring their options. Many employers are now offering really competitive packages, so it’s essential that you do the same.
We recommend hosting a return to work interview with all your employees. Be honest with them and encourage the same honesty in response. It’s important to know exactly what your workers are thinking – they’re people after all, not just HR files.
Start by asking where they see themselves in the future. If they’re hoping to move up the ranks, you could accommodate this by offering training or an apprenticeship, where you can mentor a staff member into a future leader.
If they’re considering a different career path, you could potentially even accommodate this. If one of the floor staff in your retail premises wants to move into an office role, could you put them on a business administration apprenticeship and find a use for their new skills.
When an employee knows you value them individually, not just their current position, then they’re bound to be more loyal to your company going forward.
How are you hoping to encourage staff loyalty post-pandemic? Are you facing any specific challenges? Let us know in the comments below or start a discussion with us on social media. Our friendly team is also available on 01244 678100 to discuss any questions you have about staff development and apprenticeships.