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Friday, 27 August 2021 14:20

Who's Got the Power?

Managing employees back into workplace and the associated challenges this presents, remain probably the main issues faced by employers as the Covid chaos settles down and solidifies into the new life as we know it. Indeed, it was the subject of discussion at my Peer Networking meeting last week.

Aside from the Employment Law aspects of home-working, such as employment contracts, flexible working requests and risk assessments, employers are having to contend with a general resistance to return from employees. There appears to be a strong contingent of workers throughout the UK, and indeed the wider World, who have taken quite a liking to working from home, even if only partially, and don’t want to return to the conventional going out to work.

UK employment figures announced recently point to a strong and growing economy. But, with over 1 million vacancies currently up for grabs, has the balance of power swung so far in the employees favour that they are now the ones calling the shots.

There’s no doubt that from most employers’ points of view, the benefits of employees working in the office, far outweigh those of working from home. One of my network peers had undertaken a very thorough investigation into it. Apart from the obvious advantages of training and learning, supervisory direction and company standards, there were the more intangible benefits that sharing a workplace offers, such as:

  • The transmission of ideas and information, almost by osmosis
  • Instantaneous communication and therefore problem solving
  • Creativity and a space for ideas to ignite
  • Reading the body language and visual clues of others
  • Team bonding
  • Spontaneity

However, with the buoyant jobs market making practically every employee a potential “flight risk”, are employers bowing to the wishes of their workers? Have employers become fearful of holding their employees to account and insisting that they return to the workplace for fear of losing them?

As for employees, working from home has uncovered a raft of benefits that they are now enjoying and unsurprisingly don’t want to give up. For example:

  • No Commute
  • No dress code
  • More time with family
  • More flexible working hours

But again, it’s likely to be the more difficult to define elements that are the main motivators for remaining at home. In particular the lack of a need to conform to company culture; the freedom of choice and of not being under constant scrutiny.

We can explore options to entice our employees to return to the workplace, perhaps with niceties such as gifts, free lunches, social events or bonuses. For many however, this may amount to little more than short-term bribery that is difficult to maintain and runs the risk of becoming normal and expected.

Alternatively, we can look at Leadership. As business leaders, we need to role-model the behaviour that we want and expect our employees to follow. We must be present, decisive and effective so that our employees “buy-in” to who we are and to the culture of the organisation; the shape of which is always going to be influenced from the top, down.

If we haven’t kept on top of things over the past 18 months, good leadership might be something that’s difficult to suddenly start demonstrating to a workforce that working from home. We need to initiate some measures that remind people of their accountability and that they’re part of a team with colleagues who rely on their performance. Holding regular meetings where individuals are asked to share their achievements might be a good place to start.

As the fallout from Covid continues to settle, the danger is that we leave it too long to wait and see what the lie of the land is. We must remain pro-active and take the opportunity of an economy that’s still in a state of flux to shape things to our own benefit. Why wait to see what everyone else is doing when you can take the lead and influence others to follow you?

Our Leadership training has continued throughout lockdown and remains funded for businesses in Worcestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol. We cover leadership at all levels from supervisory skills up to boardroom strategy. If you have signed up to one of our courses yet, now might be the time. Take a look at our training pages, call us on 01452 331331 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Read 134 times Last modified on Friday, 27 August 2021 14:36

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