The data: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, complicated by the Delta variant, more employees are being called back to the office and many are not happy about it. A survey by GoodHire found that 45% of workers would either quit or start a remote job search if required to return to their office full-time. And 68% said they would choose remote work over in-office work.
The two-part question: 1) How can employees who aren’t excited about returning to the office deal with it? 2) How can business leaders ease the tension and foster a congenial, productive work culture?
A work culture expert says: “For both employees and employers, the bridge back to the office and a smooth-running culture starts with each side finding and expressing gratitude,” says Michele Bailey, ForbesBooks author of The Currency of Gratitude: Turning Small Gestures into Powerful Business Results.
How Can Business Leaders Ease The Tension
From the employees’ side: For employees who are grudgingly going back to the office, Bailey says that for them to develop a more positive attitude, it’s important to first acknowledge the difficulty of finding gratitude during challenging times.
“Giving yourself permission to admit that you’re struggling can be a first step in discovering everything we still have to be thankful for,” she says. “We must also recognize that many of our co-workers are feeling the same way. Anxiety about health, social distancing, and re-connecting in an office space is weighing on many of us.
“Sharing an expression of sincere gratitude with co-workers for their support – which we’re all going to need as we go back to the office – will go a long way toward creating ease and making real connections. Those factors are the foundation for making gratitude an ongoing practice.”
From the employers’ side: Bailey says there has never been a better time than now, with the country still in the throes of COVID and businesses trying to move forward, for business leaders to show gratitude to their employees.
“That gratitude from leadership starts from two places – understanding and reflection,” Bailey says. “Understanding why employees are concerned or unhappy about returning to the office and expressing that to them. Employers reflecting on how their business has changed and survived during the pandemic, and most of all, reflecting on how their employees have contributed, adjusted, and helped their company overcome adversity.
“By expressing gratitude, leaders are showing their employees respect and compassion. Gratitude is the currency that helps build trust among team members. As employers, it is our job to be transparent, share our vision and ask for input. In doing so, we build a positive and grateful culture supported by a team of internal brand ambassadors who fully acknowledge that we as an entire workforce are finding our way together.”
About the Author
Michele Bailey is the ForbesBooks author of The Currency Of Gratitude: Turning Small Gestures Into Powerful Business Results. She also is founder/CEO of The Blazing Group, a brand and culture agency born of her strategy-first approach to business and desire to enhance employee wellness in pursuit of business goals. She is also the founder of My Big Idea®, a mentoring program designed to propel individuals toward their personal and professional goals. Bailey has been recognized for contributions to women and entrepreneurship with honors such as the Bank of Montreal Expansion & Growth in Small Business Award and the Women’s Business Enterprise Leader Award in 2020. She is a popular speaker and is also the author of a previous book, It’s NOT All About You, It’s About the Company You Keep.