A Return-To-Work Guide for HR Professionals

May 5, 2022 9:42:58 AM

A long-awaited return to the office is upon us. Well, not everyone. But a post-pandemic march back to the office is the reality for many employees. 

In fact, a recent study consisting of 1,000 small business owners and employees found that 67% are preparing a return to their office. As employees return to work, HR departments must ensure a smooth transition.

Between having the offices prepared and dealing with the mental well-being of those employees returning, HR departments have their work cut out. 

So how can HR ensure a smooth transition? 

Here are some strategies to support employees as they transition back into the office. 

Devise a Plan and Share It

There’s nothing more intimidating than the unknown, and expecting employees to return to the office with little or no idea of what to expect can create anxiety. Be sure to share your return-to-work plan with all employees. 

Whether through a Zoom meeting or an in-person meeting prior to return, sharing the plan with employees will settle nerves for those who are uncomfortable returning. 

Run Through Orientation, Again

Orientation for new employees is vital for employee retention. But HR departments are rarely faced with having to re-orientate employees. But let’s face it, the workplace employees left prior to the pandemic is not what they will be returning to anymore. 

From COVID protocols to wearing masks, the workplace will be drastically different. So it’s essential HR departments relay these changes to their employees. Re-orientation will allow your HR department to remind employees to show respect and empathy for fellow employees who may have differing opinions on what to expect when they return and what the company expects. 

Offer a Hybrid Solution 

Returning to work will not be as simple as flipping on a light. Many employees have settled into their work-from-home environment and have done so for several years. 

Also, bringing back every single employee all at once not only makes the return more challenging, but it also puts your employees at risk of spreading the virus. 

A hybrid option is a great strategy for easing employees back into the workplace. Research shows that 74% of companies are already using or planning to implement a permanent hybrid work model. Even more, 44% of employees prefer a hybrid work model while 55% of employees wish to work remotely at least 3 days a week. 

Have a Re-Exit Strategy

Many employees will be afraid to return to work. From contracting the virus to leaving their life of solitude, this fear is understandable. And although putting safety measures into place is a large piece of the puzzle for a safe return, many companies are failing to look at the entire plan as a whole. 

A critical component to returning to work is an effective exit strategy. One thing we’ve learned from the pandemic is that nothing is predictable. We’d all like to believe that a spike in COVID cases is well behind us. However, that’s not certain and many employees will be fearful.

Having an exit strategy in place not only prepares your HR department for when/if something changes, but will also provide a sense of security for those employees who are fearful of working in an office if another spike occurs. 

Are You Ready? 

There’s no way around it: expecting employees to return to work will rattle some cages. However, there are strategies to alleviate stress and fear and better prepare those employees who are reluctant to return to work. 

It’s difficult for HR professionals to anticipate what to expect because we are in uncharted territories. But by following the strategies listed above, you will have an effective return and exit strategy, if necessary, and will provide your employees a sense of ease upon return.

About Proliant

Proliant puts the human in human resources. We provide a fully integrated, cloud-based HCM solution that simplifies payroll and HR processes. The company serves small to large clients in multiple industries in all 50 states and is committed to providing the highest quality customer service in the industry.

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