When is the right time to bring employees back to the office, and what’s the best way to go about it? These are the big questions on the minds of business leaders everywhere. There’s pressure to move quickly, but the actions you take will have a lasting impact. The problem is, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. After all, no two organizations are exactly alike.
“Wait until your employees are ready. If employees are unwilling or unable to return to the workplace, don’t force them. Gather data to assess employee sentiment and comfort about returning and monitor employee engagement and comfort once they return. Adjust the reentry plan if needed. Use employee feedback as a trigger for re-exit if employees start to feel unsafe.” Gartner
Your return to work plan involves more than government compliance or health and safety concerns. It starts with a return to work planning team and a strategy based on employee feedback. In this section, we’ll talk about the steps of creating a return to work plan.
First, an effective return to work planning team includes a cross-functional group of employees responsible for developing, implementing, and managing the plan. Hiring an external health advisor or consultant can also offer a third-party perspective and help your organization to navigate challenges and concerns along the way.
Here are a few things to consider when forming a return to work planning team:
The next step is to roll up your sleeves and begin building your return to work plan. Start with a return to work pulse survey to capture employee feedback, measure readiness, identify potential challenges, and show employees you are listening to their concerns. You’ll understand what concerns them most and strengthen their commitment to your organization.
Here’s what to consider at this stage:
Lastly, adapt your plan and know how to pivot quickly. This is an integral part of a return to work plan. Expect your plan to be tested and be ready to make adjustments. Use the return to work planning team to:
The only way to know how your employees are feeling about the return to work is to ask them. Awareness of what they are thinking, how they are feeling, and where there could be potential challenges will help you to avoid hot spots. Plus, letting employees know you value their input will build trust and improve connection.
Before communicating any transition plan, leaders should first gather employee feedback using a return to work pulse survey. These insights provide the data needed to understand employee fears and concerns, guide people-informed decision making, and take confident action.
In addition to putting safety measures in place, it’s essential for employees to feel safe. Using a pulse survey to check-in, get feedback, and hear their concerns is an effective way to capture the information you need to inform your return to work plan.
Pulse surveys capture real-time employee feedback that enables you to tackle immediate topics and gain valuable intelligence for mission-critical business issues. But they’re not a replacement for comprehensive employee engagement surveys.
Fewer than ten questions each, these quick-to-launch, fast turnaround back to work questionnaires help C-suite, human resources, operations, and technology leaders to:
How many employees are at higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19? Which employees have the added stress of being a caregiver or struggling with childcare needs? Think of the transition in three phases: planning, communication, and retrospective. Capturing employee feedback on these topics during each stage of your return to work plan will give you the guidance and confidence you need.
Be confident your return to work strategy aligns with employee readiness. These pulse survey statements focus on topics such as productivity and efficiency, excitement and motivation, specific concerns, individual needs, and your employees’ comfort level with returning to the office.
Pulse survey example: “I would be comfortable going back to working at the office soon.”
Ensure employees understand your plans and policies related to the transition back to the workplace. Statements target communication, confidence in the return to work plan, and support for caregivers.
Pulse survey example: “I am confident in the plan to return to working onsite.”
After employees have returned to the workplace, gather feedback to learn how employees are adapting. Pulse survey statements to consider include health and safety protocols, clarity of procedures, learnings — and also — celebrations.
Pulse survey example: “I am clear on procedures to follow addressing the risk of COVID-19.”
Select a relevant topic and choose your pulse questions. We recommend including no more than 10 in total.
Top Workplaces use survey feedback to make people-informed decisions. Ready to find out what’s on the minds of your employees? Start by nominating your organization.