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3 Ways to Improve the Work Environment in the Office

From the Great Resignation to the Great Reflection and the Great Reshuffle, the global pandemic has left an indelible mark on where and when we work. In today’s employee-driven environment, workers are letting their desires be known by leaving current, unfulfilling jobs while making more demands of the next one. 

From increased flexibility to expanded mental health support, employees have gained a new perspective on what’s important – and how work fits into that equation. 

With that, employers are deciding whether to keep roles remote, hybrid, or in-office, with pros and cons for each. No matter which you choose, worries about backlash and continued turnover are paramount. 

If your company has decided to move your employees back into the office, you’ll need to focus on making your work environment more appealing to your team to maintain (and boost) retention.

Keep reading to learn about three ways to encourage employees to come back to the office. 

1. Show Empathy

Empathy continues to be a top metric in workplaces, with the global pandemic cementing its place in importance. According to the 2021 State of Workplace Empathy report, 72 percent of employees believe that empathy drives employee motivation. Additionally, 84 percent of CEOs believe that empathy drives positive business outcomes. However, only 25% of employees believe that empathy is sufficient in their workplace, representing no change since 2020.

To successfully make empathy part of your workplace culture, you can implement the following tactics. First, listen to your employees.  Keep an open-door policy.  Create an anonymous suggestion box.  Keeping the lines of communication open can significantly boost workplace empathy.

Second, focus on building an employee-centric culture. Prioritize employee well-being. Foster a  culture of learning and development.  Create individual career paths. By focusing on your employees – your most important asset – you can create a workplace that employees don’t want to leave.

Third, creating a culture of empathy starts from the top. Managers must lead with compassion to continue retaining top talent. Draft company values with empathy at the forefront – showing employees that your organization values (and listens to) workers. When employees feel valued, they are less likely to look for a new job.

2. Emphasize Safety

After a couple of years of social distancing, masking up, and sheltering in place, employees expect their employers to prioritize safety and well-being. To improve your office’s work environment, your employees should feel safe – physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially.

As part of your communication strategy, describe specifically how you’ll keep employees safe. For example, will you conduct symptom checks? Will you distance workstations? Will you employ enhanced cleaning and sanitizing? Employers can head off reluctance about returning to the office by emphasizing new safety measures while making the workplace more appealing to returning employees.

3. Deliver Value and Purpose

A third way to improve your office’s work environment – helping you to retain top talent – is to continually deliver value and purpose. Leaders should emphasize value and belonging, giving employees a sense of purpose in everything they do for their employer while increasing employee engagement and fulfillment

But talking about value and purpose won’t cut it.  Instead, you need to make it part of your culture.

For example, “genuinely purposeful organizations” embed value, purpose, and belonging right into their management policies and procedures. For example, you can offer training and development for your managers on soft skills such as communication.  Talking to employees about how they’re progressing professionally and personally can make a significant difference in your retention metrics. 

Additionally, don’t implement one-size-fits-all policies for return to the office. Instead, listen to your employees’ needs, determining what makes a difference to each of them. For example,  a single mom may have different concerns about returning to the office than a recent college graduate. By appealing to multiple needs, employers can better deliver value and purpose in returning to work. 

As we round the corner of the global pandemic, employers need to focus on making in-office work more appealing to retain employees. Implementing new strategies should be well-thought-out, with continual tweaking as you communicate with your team.  But by focusing on empathy, value, and purpose – all while putting your employees first – you can entice even your most reluctant employees back to the office, helping you retain your company’s top talent.

Want to learn more about creating a desirable work environment as employees head back to the office?  Contact Cangrade today.