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Op/Ed

Employers, be transparent if you’re requiring a return to office

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) As employees return to the workplace, employers need compassion and transparency. Bringing your empathy to the table will pay dividends.

Woman thinking representing mental toughness.

Although you may be balancing new regulations as employees get vaccinated and can return to the office, there’s a lot more to consider than just opening your doors and letting workers back into your business. Employers are going to need to navigate the return to work with a plan that keeps employees safe and rebuilds trust in a world that has changed over the past two years. What can employers do to move their businesses to the new normal?

Let the team know what is happening

The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone. People are anxious about coming back to work and interacting with others, even with all of the regulations, vaccinations, and precautions. Employers will need to be transparent and offer clear directions about reopening. According to a December 2020 survey from Pew Research Center, about 54% of telecommuting workers want to remain working from home. Of course, the vaccine wasn’t being rolled out then, so that figure could have changed, but many workers still have valid reasons to work from home. Communication and compassion will be necessary to keep operations going during the transition.9

Provide clear directions

Employers are going to need to set the standards for the business. Once the standards are mandated, then managers need to maintain those requirements. Also, your business will need to provide resources and signage to let everyone know about the rules. Sadly, you may need to discipline rule breakers to maintain trust with the entire team. If you do decide to take a relaxed approach to mask-wearing or social distancing, you should let workers know it’s okay to take extra precautions as they choose.

Listen to employees

Returning to pre-COVID work conditions may not be as easy as recalling your team. The pandemic affected all aspects of life. As a business, you’re thinking about your priorities, but your team may have children who aren’t in school, transportation needs that were changed with the pandemic, and their own health problems to work around. Employers are going to need to be sensitive and have compassion as the world changes again. Give your workers a voice, whether they’ve been working from home or in the workplace to let them re-acclimate to a new normal.

Keep employees productive and loyal

Work will never be the same as it was pre-pandemic. How your business handles this transition could affect your business for many years. You want your workers to trust your organization to treat them with compassion as they come back to the workplace. In the long run, everything you do to strengthen your corporate culture and increase employee engagement, the better off your business is.

Dawn Brotherton is a Sr. Staff Writer at The American Genius with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. She is an experienced business writer with over 10 years of experience in SEO and content creation. Since 2017, she has earned $60K+ in grant writing for a local community center, which assists disadvantaged adults in the area.

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