4 reopening mistakes employers are making
As businesses start to reopen due to the Covid-19 pandemic there are certain mistakes they should avoid.
Mistake 1: Assuming your people feel safe
It will be a long while before the majority of our people feel truly comfortable working in close quarters with other teammates or clients.
The returning businesses have many responsibilities, one of them being their staff’s health and wellness relating to returning to the office. Your business should find out about their concerns and if your firm has made a number of investigations in new wellness procedures and equipment, share those with the members of staff and ask how these new procedures and use of equipment would make them feel.
Some firm leaders think the vaccination will solve the health and safety concerns. But as much as a quarter or more of the population may not vaccinate. The legalities around requiring the vaccine, or even inquiring about the vaccine, are unclear and evolving.
To figure out how many people want to work from home or the office and why, survey your staff. Ask them how they feel about returning to the office and whether they want to work from home, the office, or a blend of both. If they want a blend, what number of days in each location would suit them best post-reopening? Consider asking them to answer the questions for right now, for six months from now, and for a year from now to see if they project an easing of their concerns.
Mistake 2: Using the wrong words or phrases
As it relates to reopening, let’s avoid these phrases to avoid upsetting your staff and any customers:
- Going back or returning to work your people think, “We have been working, and we’ve been working a lot!”
- Going back to anything, most future leaders don’t want to go “back” to the good old days or backward in any way. Try to avoid the word back. Instead, talk about what’s next. Or “going forward” or “evolving to.”
- Avoid absolutes like “All people must return to in-person work,” or “Eventually everyone will come back to the office,” or phrases like “Our clients won’t want to be served remotely after the pandemic,” or “We can’t build relationships unless we’re in-person.” These ideas dishearten those who want a hybrid, blended, or fully remote position, and they will hear you as unable to accommodate their needs, which could lead to their departure.
Even the word reopening could be strange. You never closed for work, right? Instead, consider saying, “We’re opening up new options for work.” Think carefully about the way you phrase your ideas and plans. Use a diverse focus group to test your plans and messages. Take their advice and revise your plans and messages.
Mistake 3: Not capitalizing on opportunities for change
Ingenuity was one of the best things to come from the pandemic, and there are breakthroughs in business processes, technology, and market reach that we should never give up. Things like:
- Paperless invoice processes that save money on supplies, speed the process of getting the bills to clients.
- Remote internship onboarding and management for multi-office firms. During the pandemic, interns have been managed centrally, so they’ve gotten a much more consistent, positive experience and steadier workflow than interns experienced when individual offices managed them inconsistently.
- Using video calling for internal meetings, and meetings with prospects, referral sources, and clients, connecting people in different places saving commute time required to get to the same physical location.
- Employing more digital marketing and remote lead qualifying techniques, saving from the more time-consuming, in-person, big room activities that still have their place but aren’t the most efficient for meeting your ideal targets.
- Auditing our clients’ data, already loaded on our portal, without the hassle and cost of travel for the entire team.
- Hiring people in other locations for key positions that you haven’t been able to source locally. Boundaryless recruiting is allowing firms to solve long-standing challenges and provide career opportunities to talent.
Mistake 4: Marginalising remote or hybrid staff
You’d be surprised at how often leaders make statements like, “Those who choose to work from home after the pandemic can do so, but their career growth will be limited.” And they say it in front (virtually) of their remote staff, who are then much more likely to jump ship to an employer that understands there are many examples of remote talent leading teams, projects, clients, service lines, and even a whole firm. And being a remote employee doesn’t mean that you never visit clients or the office or attend other in-person meetings.
Many certified public accountant and advisory firms are launching full-scale borderless reach for talent recruiting and client acquisition. You’re competing with these firms for the talent in your office and for your remote and hybrid people, too.
Form a committee to discuss ways to create a truly inclusive environment that provides parity and consistency in the way you recruit, onboard, develop, and communicate with our at-home, hybrid, and in-office team members. Don’t make one better than the other. Make them all successful!