Employers are reopening their offices and transitioning their workers back to either an in-person or a hybrid workplace. So what does this mean for human resource teams? David Pearson, senior vice president with ExtensisHR, gave some advice to health insurance and benefits brokers during the National Association of Health Underwriters virtual annual convention Monday afternoon.
“This is a time no HR professional has encountered in the past – an event that took us out of the office for 15-16 months,” he said.
“You have to do what makes the most sense for your business. Many businesses struggled to keep up a level of productivity while their employees were working remotely, but that doesn’t mean that’s the way their business should continue to operate.”
Communication is the most important aspect of helping employees feel confident about returning to the workplace, he said. “Communicate directly and thoroughly to your staff so they know what the expectations are.”
Some issues employers need to address, he said, include:
Can you mandate employees be vaccinated?
Have you increased your cleaning protocols?
How will you navigate resistance? You must be sure you are granting exemptions consistently. Use an element of empathy because people do have different levels of concern.
What do you gain if an employee resigns due to the new requirement? Some employees have taken the stand that they have been working effectively remotely so why do they have to return to the office five days a week.
How will you manage a hybrid workforce? Managers will need to focus on performance and not environment. Focus on the task performed and not the time worked.
Returning to in-person work also means redefining the company’s culture, Pearson said. “We’re not going back into the same environment as before,” he said. “People’s priorities have changed, people’s schedules have changed.”
Employee engagement not just an HR task, he said. “The entire organization should be involved in it.”
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.