‘What’s in it for me?’ How businesses can lure workers back to the office

With cities and states offering various incentives to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, businesses face a slightly different challenge.

“They want to get people back in the office,” said staffing expert Trey Barnette, regional vice president at Robert Half International.

As more of society reopens, over a year after the pandemic began, Barnette said simply declaring that a company expects employees back in their offices by a certain date probably isn’t the best idea.

“Giving employees the freedom to return to the office when they’re ready will boost morale and loyalty,” Barnette said.

Companies often cite the benefits and needs of in-person, face-to-face interaction, but Barnette said businesses are smart to listen to employees’ concerns and desires.

“Take a pulse check of employees, and see exactly what they want to do,” said Barnette.

Then, realize that employees are more likely to buy into an idea if it benefits them.

“There are some incentives that employers can provide to their employees to have them be motivated to come back into the office,” said Barnette.

A recent Half study found 49% of all employees surveyed would prefer a hybrid work arrangement, dividing time between home and the office.

The employees described incentives that would make them more likely to return to the office — many of which are what they enjoyed while working from home.

“The ability to set their own work hours, having more of a flexible schedule,” was one.

“Having some office space where they don’t have to be right next to their co-workers,” was another.

Another incentive: reducing the expenses of a daily commute.

“I think from over the last year we’ve seen that people saved a lot of money not having to go into the office,” said Barnette.

A relaxed dress code would also appeal to many of the employees who were surveyed.

“One thing we’ve all experienced over the last 12 months is being able to dress down at work,” said Barnette, suggesting companies look at “seeing if it’s something we could do in the office.”

While juggling work and child care at home could be trying, it did reduce costs, and Barnette said many employees would also appreciate having child care in the workplace.


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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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