Oliver Sheer No Comments

People who work from the office and have positive social relationships are less likely to actively look for new job opportunities, or accept one if it is offered to them, according to Gartner research. Be Challenged looks at this timely and relevant topic.

The end of 2021 has seen workers globally quitting in unprecedented levels and many more searching for a new job in what has been named the ‘Great Resignation’.

Many are attributing this to a realignment of values, away from career aspirations and towards the easier life experienced while working from home – even if working from home may lead to worse long-term personal outcomes due to the lost social benefits (see below).

One result is that between around 25 and 50 per cent of Australian workers are planning to change jobs in the next six to 12 months, depending on which research you read.

An exclusive 2021 Gartner report cited by the ABC described retaining workers as one of the top strategic priorities for company boards and senior management, with workers able to demand more from their employers in what is described as a “new balance of power”.

This balance of power is also driven by a supply-demand equation. Half a million migrants have left Australia permanently since the beginning of COVID, many of whom were skilled workers. And continued border closures mean companies have a smaller pool of talent to choose from.

The result is businesses are offering wage increases, four-day workweeks and other incentives to entice new workers and retain old ones – especially in high demand roles.

The negative impacts of working from home

Of course working from home, or in a hybrid manner, remains popular, and while it was found by the Productivity Commission to not impact productivity overall, there is more to the picture.

While productivity may not suffer, there are many other personal, business and social benefits gained from coming to the office, mostly built around friendships, according to 2018 Gallup research.

The research found the benefits of workplace friendships include:

  • More motivation to work
  • More likely to take risks that could lead to innovation
  • Stronger networks which enhance future career opportunities
  • More likely to have a positive experience at work
  • Less likely to have a negative experience at work
  • Less likely to be actively looking or watching for job opportunities

Yes, that’s right. Coming to the office can improve staff retention. The research found that workers with strong workplace connections will be less likely to be actively looking for a new job, and more likely to turn one down if approached.

However, many people will – understandably – prefer to avoid the short-term pain of a daily commute, despite the significant long-term personal benefits for them in the connections they will forge at the office.

The importance of “reboarding”

Given the many benefits of working in the office, but the likely resistance some staff will offer, gently encouraging people back will likely yield a more positive reception than enforced returns.

That encouragement could be in the form of fun programs, events or Friday drinks, shared on intranets and social media to show people what they are missing out on.

Or it could be in the form of a specific reboarding event, design to reconnect and engage staff, debrief on the past two years, and remind them how much fun working with their colleagues can be.

Reboarding is particularly important given many staff were hired during the pandemic and some may have never met their colleagues, or not had the opportunity to forge strong ties.

However you choose to bring your team together, Gartner’s advice for driving positive relationships at work is as relevant today as ever:

  • Promote open communication and collaboration
  • Encourage people to get to know one another
  • Promote and participate in social activities

If you would like any assistance with reboarding your team to drive a positive and embraced return to the office, please contact Be Challenged to discuss our tailored reboarding programs.

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