NELSON Worldwide’s Evolving Workforce Expectations study explores employees’ sentiments about returning to the office, and the impact COVID-19 has had on work environments and employee engagement. As part of our Evolving Workforce Expectations blog series, we’re taking a closer look at each of the key themes that stemmed from our research: communicate, activate, control, and support. Follow along to learn more about each theme and how your brand can pull off a successful re-entry strategy.
As most Americans continue to work remotely, or in-office on a limited schedule, workers have adopted new behaviors, and a different mindset when it comes to work-life balance. With research showing most want to return to the workplace, it is clear that a strong sense of support from employers is essential for employees to continue working successfully; remote or not.
Moving forward, the relationship between employees and employers will operate with a high degree of trust, dependent on three key principles. Giving employees the tools they need to stay engaged, updating work policies and the workplace environment to be more flexible, and finding ways to foster growth and value are the three keys to making employees feel more supported at work.
Empower Employees with Tools for Engagement
Before the pandemic, most companies operate under the assumption that offices were critical to productivity and community. Now, even though priorities have shifted, working remotely shouldn’t be a reason to halt these efforts. Thanks to ever-evolving technology, reinforcing company culture and creating community is still possible, even while working remotely.
- Build a virtual community, employers can create a ‘digital community wall’ to celebrate teammate success both in the office and remote
- Provide perks like subscriptions to exercise, meditation, or bike-sharing apps to build allegiance and reinforce culture
- Create rules and recommendations around the new work-life balance and encourage teammates to breathe or take a creative break during the day
“Flexify” Policies and Workspaces
Employees are craving control in their personal lives and at work due to the limited amount of control they have surrounding the pandemic. Flexibility can offer them a sense of control they aren’t getting in other areas of their lives.
- Create an environment in the physical setting that can flex throughout the day to better support more flexible hours, consider both early risers and night owls
- Offer dedicated spaces for a wider range of purposes/needs like in-person meetings, virtual meetings, and even digital content creation like podcasts, webinars, and more
- Extend or stagger work hours could to aid in safe office capacity and usage
Create a Multi-Sensory Setting
When combining a potential talent war with the flexibility and comfort of working from home, employers must make the physical office a sought-after destination again. Brands will need to differentiate themselves so that top talent not only wants to work for them but want to come into the office regularly.
- Take cues hospitality such as adding a signature scent or soothing sounds to make employees feel welcomed each day
- Consider an original food and beverage concept, either bringing in localized food offerings or even an on-site chef, so grabbing snacks and meals is satisfying and convenient for workers
- Offer a visually appealing environment that makes an impact, and is somewhere where employees can feel energized and inspired
- Learn from the retail industry by incorporating temporary activations or pop-ups to generate buzz and excitement and induce a feeling of exclusivity and something no one wants to miss out on
What matters most is doing what is authentic and genuine to the brand. Employees will sniff out deception immediately if the support feels forced or doesn’t align with the overall brand culture and values. Whether it’s new policies and programs, or new seating arrangements and office furniture, the goal is to help employees achieve success and have the most positive experience possible at work.