5 ways to help employees reacclimate to the office. The COVID-19 pandemic saw millions begin working remotely and many employees are stressed about returning to the office. What can employers do to help?

After months of fine tuning their return-to-work strategies, many organizations are finally making the move back to in-person offices. However, not all employees are happy about it. A May 2021 survey of 1,000 adults found that 39% would consider quitting their jobs if employers weren’t flexible about remote options.

Teams might benefit from working in-person, but that doesn’t mean that letting go of remote work is easy for employees. Many members of your team are likely to dread being back at the office, or struggle to adapt to another new normal. So, how can teams and managers help employees reacclimate to the office? 

These five strategies could be the way to go. 

1. Be transparent about your motives for in-person work.

Any time your organization undertakes a big shift in strategy, it’s vital that your team stays informed about the change. Uncertainty can be breeding ground for anxiety and confusion. Even if the reasons for returning to the office seem obvious to you, be sure to explain your rationale. Highlight the benefits of in-person work and be sure to emphasize any individual benefits to the employees. You’ll likely ease some people’s anxiety, and establish a better connection when everyone is on the same page.

2. Don’t ignore how employees are feeling about the shift.

While explaining yourself as a leader is valuable, listening to the people who follow you is even more important. If everyone on your team is ecstatic about seeing each other again, then you know you’re in for a smooth transition. But, if not, your anxious employees will feel so much more supported if they’re given the opportunity to voice their concerns. Allow room for feedback and reactions to this big decision. You might even consider an anonymous survey to encourage honesty from anyone who is less likely to speak up publicly.

3. Foster transparency in your organization in order to make the work your employees do feel meaningful.

Research from the Harvard Business Review discovered that employees tend to trust our top public health experts when it comes to reentry timelines. It also showed that fewer than one in 10 employees would feel safe returning to the office on the word of their employer alone. Make sure every decision you make is in accordance with health guidelines from the CDC and state health departments.

4. Continue to prioritize employee mental health.

According to a CDC study from August 2020, 40% of US adults reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse in late June of last year. Although we’ve come a long way with vaccinations, the pandemic is not over. The value of mental health support has always been high, and a period of transition only amplifies the need for strong resources. If you plan to return to the office, keep mental health top of mind. 

5. Be empathetic to the concerns of your team.

Ultimately, a lot of comfort is inspired by not only what you say, but how you say it. It’s been a difficult period for almost everyone in the country. People react to things differently, but we’ve all experienced a collective trauma with this pandemic. The best thing you can do is be kind and patient. The best way to achieve personal growth for your employees with company goals, is to work together.

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