With pandemic-related lockdowns being lifted around the world, businesses are announcing plans to bring employees back into the office.
Considering the widespread isolation and Zoom fatigue of the past year, one might expect employees to welcome a return to the office. Instead, they’re resisting. In fact, early reports are suggesting that many employees would rather quit their jobs rather than return to the office. Why?
The COVID-19 pandemic has had big implications for the relationship between employees and employers.
For one, it’s revealed how many employers profoundly mistrust their employees’ ability to get their work done without in-person supervision. It’s no wonder that when faced with a hot post-pandemic economic recovery, employees are choosing to find a new employer over returning to a boss and organization that lacked trust in them during the pandemic.
Second, working from home has revealed that employees can have it all and they don’t want to lose this privilege. A recent survey showed that almost half of employees would look for a new employer rather than give up the ability to work from home at least part of the time.
The ability to pop out for a spin class in the middle of the afternoon or pick up the kids from school early reflect the type of flexibility that many employees simply don’t want to give up. They’re resisting a return to the nine-to-five facetime culture of pre-pandemic times.
Third, firms have been inept at maintaining a cohesive workplace culture during the pandemic. Many employees report feeling “left behind” by bosses who did not provide adequate support during the pandemic. A recent survey by an employee engagement company suggests that 46 per cent of employees felt less connected to their employer during the pandemic, while 42 per cent say company culture has become worse during the crisis.
This isn’t surprising because research has shown that, if not managed properly, employees in virtual teams can feel “shunned and left out.” The new “work from anywhere” movement is allowing employees to choose flexibility over allegiance to employers they have become disconnected from over the last year and a half.
High employee turnover is unwelcome news for employers. Given the high costs of employee training, keeping a good employee is far cheaper than hiring a new one. Her are four proposals for employers to stave off employee turnover during the return to in-person work:
Hopefully, the post-pandemic return to work will provide an opportunity for employers and employees to reconsider their relationships with one another. This is the time for a “new normal” that provides employees with opportunities for respect and empowerment in the workplace.
Sign up to get our monthly newsletter and updates about RNN.