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Create a Strategy To Bring Back Workers
“Going back to the office” takes on new meaning after more than a year of working from home. Some employees are excited to return to “normal,” while others have embraced remote work and feel uneasy about returning to the old status quo. A large portion of the workforce falls somewhere in between these two extremes, and desire a happy medium. This predicament leaves businesses across nearly all industries scrambling to find a workable solution to retain valuable talent.
In-person, hybrid or remote?
Before the pandemic, showing up at work every day was a given for most companies. The post-pandemic workforce will be defined by flexibility.
Important considerations in developing work policy:
- How companies want to recognize those who showed up at the office during the height of the pandemic.
- What accommodations, if any, will be made for employees whose job descriptions require an in-person presence.
- When and how in-person meetings and business travel will resume.
- How learning and development will be handled.
- What types of physical accommodations need to be made to ensure employees feel safe.
- How to remain competitive with what competitors are offering.
Inclusivity in decision-making may be the most important piece of the puzzle. It is critical to involve employees in the decision-making process so that they buy into the plan. Employee input should not be ignored, lack of inclusivity can break morale. It it may be the case that a botched transition will prompt competitors to recruit talent away from a company whose employees are unhappy with the back-to-the-office decision. Company leaders should think carefully before making a decision about which option is best for them.
This is the big elephant in the room: to mandate or not to mandate. Don’t look for an industry trend when deciding this matter trend. Even within industries, companies are following widely different strategies. For example, Morgan Stanley said it would require returning employees to be vaccinated, while J.P. Morgan is leaving it optional, but mandating that employees log their status on the company portal.
Companies need to keep in mind two federal laws when deciding policy regarding vaccination mandates. The first law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, stipulates employers with more than 15 employees may not discriminate against people on the basis of religion. This may be a concern if an employee’s religious beliefs prohibits vaccinations. The second law is the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects people with certain medical conditions. This exception protects people whose health may be put at risk if they get the vaccine. Because of privacy concerns, employers need to consider how they ask employees for information regarding these exceptions.
Speaking with an employment law professional before finalizing any decisions is the best course of action.
Communication and transparency
Employees need to be comfortable with whatever decisions their employer makes. This requires communication with and input from employees as plans and processes are put in place.
What all this means is that every business, large or small, needs to develop a strategy that works for them, and then get the necessary guidance to implement their plans.
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