Enticing Employees Back into the Office: 3 Strategic Employer Mistakes

Enticing Employees Back into the Office: 3 Strategic Employer Mistakes

You sweated crafting an email announcing a full return-to-the-office to your employees. You and your management team thought the email was terrific. It went over like a lead balloon.

The response? Three resignations by the next day.

You wrote me at “Ask a Coach,” and sent me your email and told me your plan.

You plan an all-hands meeting to announce your reasons for bringing employees back into the office. Each member of your four-person leadership team plans to speak. You hope by the time you’ve finished these speeches, your employees will understand that returning to the office is the right decision.                       

Strategic Mistake #1: One-way communication

You sent me the email you and your management team sent out. You plan a 7-minute presentation explaining the same content.

What employee input have you solicited? What about a survey—even now—asking employees what they miss about working on-site? And a second question asking what would make it worth their while to return on-site?

Have you scheduled time during your all-hands meeting for your employees to meet in small groups and write questions and outline concerns that you and the other managers can address?

When you rock your employees’ lives, you need to allow for two-way communication.

Strategic Mistake #2:

I read your email. It’s logical.

It doesn’t sell.

In what ways can you make coming into the office worthwhile for your employees?

Strategic Mistake #3:

You included nothing in your email that shows any flexibility on your part. You’ve written a flat “here’s what’s happening.”

Here’s the bottom line: When you give employees a “take it or leave it” message, some will leave it based on how you’ve delivered the message. Inflexible employers will lose employees to employers that offer to listen or offer options. For example, have you considered separating out the functions and tasks for which you need employees on-site for from ones they can perform externally? Can you allow some employees hybrid schedule or a chance to propose one based on individual circumstances?    

Here’s what’s in it for you if you fix these mistakes: Retention. Morale. Productivity. Retention.

If you stick to your current plan, you’ll lose employees. You’ll take a morale hit, which results in lowered productivity. You’ll become less able to recruit replacements for departing employees, as many candidates seek employers offering hybrid work.

Or, you could announce at your all-hands meeting that you’ll fix your mistakes.

(c) 2023 Lynne Curry

For more on how employees are fighting employer’s return to the office mandates, read https://bit.ly/3Dcnr2m. For more on how to negotiate to continue working remote, check out tomorrow’s post. You can find more on how to hire, manage and retain accountable employees, in Managing for Accountability, https://bit.ly/3T3vww8  (all 23 reviews are 5-star).

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2 thoughts on “Enticing Employees Back into the Office: 3 Strategic Employer Mistakes

  1. Thanks for this. I’m helping a company that does employee engagement programs with their website and your answer sums up why employers need programs like this.

  2. Best about this post is the idea of talking to employees first,even sending a survey, asking what they liked about working on-site, what they missed, what would make it worthwhile for them to return. Appealing by telling stories is another good strategy if they have some about their own employees or others’ who returned to work on-site and found that they enjoyed it. Asking for feedback instead of only having top-down communication is a good idea, too.

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