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How to Get Your People Back to The Office Without Harming Talent Attraction & Retention

Updated: Apr 25

Office Attendance vs Talent Retention

Do you want to get your staff back to the office, but are worried that many of your staff would leave if you forced them to return? Are you worried that it could be difficult to attract new top talent if you insist on them working in the office? This is a very common problem that we encounter when speaking to companies about their workspaces.


It’s not hard to see why companies want to get staff back into the office. Remote workers are 10-19% less productive than their in-office counterparts. Office working also improves collaboration by 40% and makes communication a lot less siloed. However, staff are reluctant to return to the office. They enjoy the cost savings and convenience of remote working. 1 in 3 staff say they would quit if they were forced back to the office full time. 71% of staff say they need a better reason to return to the office than company expectations. So how do you solve this conundrum?


In this article, we’ll go through 6 key steps to ensure you can increase your office attendance without damaging your talent attraction & retention. By the end, you’ll be able to plan a return to the office that brings your people together and helps the success of your company.


Understand Employee Preferences

The first step to successfully increase your office attendance is to understand exactly why your staff are reluctant to return to the office – and why your company are keen for them to do so. By understanding the unique situation of your staff and company, you will be able to create a plan that is right for your company.


To do this, you will need to survey your staff and managers for their perspectives on remote and office working. This includes the benefits and drawbacks of remote working, why they don’t come into the office more, and what would make them come into the office more. From this research, you can analyse the feedback to see what your people want. This enables you to build a plan that mitigates what keeps staff away and capitalises on what would tempt them back.


Choose Your Working Model

In the 2020’s, having everyone working in the office all day every day is no longer the accepted norm. As a result, you have to choose your working model policy – where, when, and how your staff work. This will have a major impact on your real estate and HR strategies, so you need to get this decision right.


The first decision will be to decide whether to implement remote, hybrid or fully in-office working. If you are implementing hybrid working, you will then have to decide exactly what that entails. This is in terms of how much time staff spend in the office and remotely (and when). For most companies, hybrid working is the best option. It combines most of the benefits of remote & office working whilst minimising the negatives. To learn more about choosing your working model, read this article.


Improve Your Workspace

The experience your staff have when in your office is a major component in how keen your people will be to return to the office. If all your workspace offers is rows of sterile desks, your staff will not see any benefit in them returning to the office. They can get a solitary desk at home. If your office is an uninspiring, uncomfortable place to be, you will not be able to get your staff back to the office without harming your talent attraction & retention.


To avoid this situation, you need to create a workspace that is worth the commute. A space that staff want to be in because it provides them with an experience that they can't get at home. Collaboration and networking are especially important. To learn more, read about the Top 6 Ways to Get Staff Back to the Office Using Office Design.


Update Amenities

Your staff benefits package may also need changing to support your return to the office. A lot of companies haven't changed their amenities programmes since 2020, when they were designed to support remote working. As a result, many are irrelevant and unused. At best, they don’t support you getting staff back to the office. At worst, they may even be damaging it.


To resolve this, you need to build an amenities package that attracts staff back to the office. Most importantly, this is about providing office-centric benefits, such as free food or team events. You could also provide benefits that mitigate the negatives of office working, such as contributions to travel costs.


Build Community

What employees have missed most over the last few years is the ability to socialise and be with their coworkers. According to the Harvard Business Review, 85% of employees would be motivated to go into the office to rebuild team bonds. Furthermore, 84% of employees would be motivated to go into the office if they could socialize with coworkers. Most of the value of the office is in the people, not the space itself.


To lean into this, you should create a workspace that builds community. This involves a working model that encourages teams to be in the office at the same time together. It also provides them with the environments that make it easy to collaborate and socialise together. This will not only get your people back into the office without harming talent attraction and retention, it will even improve your ability to hire & keep talent.


Communication

Communication is the most crucial element of getting your staff back to the office without harming your talent attraction & retention. Without effective communication, your plan will be almost guaranteed to fail.


To avoid this situation, you need to plan carefully and communicate a lot. If there is a lack of detail or questions unanswered, staff will assume the worst and resist the change. It’s also important to explain why you need to get back to the office from a company perspective. To ensure your communication is effective, you need to listen to their feedback and concerns, and adapt your plan accordingly. This will not only make the plan better, it will make your people far more supportive of it.


Getting Your Staff Back to The Office

Getting your staff back to the office can provide major productivity, culture, and profitability benefits for your company. However, a poorly executed or communicated plan will be ineffective and create a lot of resistance from staff. Many of your best staff will leave, and others will be unsatisfied and underperform.


To get your people back to the office without damaging your talent attraction & retention, you first need to understand and define what your company and people need. From that, you can build a win-win plan that benefits employer and employees alike. You can then create a working model and workspace(s) that support that. By focussing on building community, you can take your staff performance and retention to a whole new level. However, the best plan will be useless without great communication, so you need to make sure your people are well-informed and educated.


Now you know how to increase your office attendance without harming your ability to hire & keep top talent. You’re ready to create a return-to-the-office plan that will bring your people together and set your company forward. To learn more, read How to Plan Your Return to The Office.

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