3 steps to build your return to the office employee engagement strategy

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Paljor Lama, Senior Consultant, Traveler Engagement

As the world learns to live with COVID-19 and the shifting workplace models that came out of the pandemic, returning to the office may be in the cards for your organization.

But the way we work has evolved and there are now multiple different approaches you can take. Whether you’re planning a full return to the office, a hybrid or flexible approach, or going completely remote, it’s crucial to communicate your plans effectively. It’s also essential that whichever form of return to the office you choose, you ensure that your employees are informed, engaged, and onboard with your plan. Here, you’ll learn the three steps to build your employee engagement strategy as you manage the return to the office (RTO).

Why Employee Engagement is More Important Than Ever

Employee engagement is about communicating the right messages to the right people at the right time to build community, influence action, and drive the change you want within your organization. The Great Resignation is in full effect, and engagement strategies have become more crucial than before as employees make choices about how and where they work, and whether they want to come back to the office at all. Some 69 million Americans left their jobs in 2021, and the signs are that workplace shifts are far from over.

This is one of the biggest changes to manage right now, and employee engagement strategies will help you do that effectively and efficiently. As employee engagement specialists, here’s what Advito advises as you manage the process.

  1. Strategize Your RTO plan – The best place to start is with your strategy. Bring together stakeholders from leadership, human resources, internal communications groups, facilities managers, and anyone else who has a stake so you can strategize together. The purpose of this is to be clear about why you’re promoting a return to the office – or why you’re not – and how work is going to look for your company in the future. Spend as much time as you need to hash this out so that you’re absolutely clear what you’re doing. The more clarity you have, the easier it will be to identify what you need to communicate, and how.
  2. Decide on Key Messages -Once you have your strategy in mind, an employee engagement specialist can help you develop the key messages you want to get across about the particular approach you’ve chosen and how it’s going to work.For employees returning to the office full time or via a hybrid/flexible option, it will be important to include information reassuring them about your concern for their health, wellness, and safety, and what you’re actually doing to protect them. Despite the relaxation of mandates in many locations, the pandemic isn’t yet over, and employees will rightly be concerned about health risks when returning to the office.For hybrid and fully remote options, as well as thinking about the main RTO plan, consider messaging about issues such as:
      • How you’ll enable remote employees to participate fully in company activities
      • Communication expectations for remote work
      • Tools and technology to enable remote work
      • What you, as a company, are doing to battle issues like Zoom fatigue
      • How to ensure equity between those working in this office and those working remotely

    Think about some of the challenges of remote work, and how you can solve them.In creating messaging, we’ve found that one of the most important aspects of engaging employees is treating them like stakeholders. In other words, rather than handing down mandates, take the time to explain your thinking and galvanize your employees around the goals, objectives, and reasons for your RTO approach.

  3. Create a Customized Communication Plan –With your strategy and key messages worked out, the next step is to work with your employee engagement specialist to create a communication plan to rollout your messaging about planned changes. This isn’t one size fits all approach; it depends on the culture of your company and how you typically communicate and collaborate, and your employee engagement specialist will be able to customize a plan that meets your specific needs.There are a number of tactics you can include. For example, Advito’s employee engagement specialists have helped companies use tactics such as townhall meetings, as well as webinars, targeted emails, FAQs, internal social media and chat tools, and so on. You’ll likely have messaging for several channels, depending on where you usually reach employees.The right messaging approach will help you:
    • Reduce confusion by addressing questions and concerns in advance
    • Eliminate disruption with timely, targeted information
    • Empower employees and increase trust and satisfaction by getting them involved

Get Started With Employee Engagement

Getting your employee engagement strategy right won’t just help with a successful return to office strategy. It will also help the company meet its goals in terms of recruitment, retention, productivity, and profitability. Contact Advito’s Employee Engagement service to customize the solution you need.

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