Salford Business School 16.06.20

Balancing employer and employee expectations when returning to work

As shops and office begin to reopen and employees return to their workplaces after weeks and months working from home, how can employers make the transition as smooth as possible?

Jonathan Lord, HR expert at the University of Salford Business School, has some tips.

Jonathan said: “Although UK employees are looking forward to returning to work, they will have a new set of expectations when they return. Counter this with the anticipations of employers who will be eager for employees to return to full capacity as well as productivity, this could be a melting pot for a rise in industrial conflict.

“An employee’s return to work after potentially such a long time is a critical time to support success. The implementation of a proper planning process can prevent potential issues from manifesting into more serious consequences for both employer and employee and it should begin before the employee’s first day back at work.

“Employees returning to work will have adopted some ‘bad’ habits that could have an impact on their effectiveness and employers will need to have a clear structure or pathway when returning to work.  Those organisations that have a strong focus on wellbeing will be in a  better position to handle the long-term effects of employees’ changing physical and mental health.

“Although workers maybe relieved about the thought of returning to work and resuming some semblance of normality there will be heightened pressures on their return with the threat of redundancy or reductions in salary.

“Organisations will need to act positively and promote the benefits of the new ways of working, such as remote and flexible working, which can if managed properly can actually improve the overall well-being of staff.

“Many employers have been able to ‘pilot’ and review how working flexibly and remotely can work in practice in a wholistic manner. The Covid-19 crisis has forced all sectors and industries to embrace different ways of working and these will probably now become the norm. The cost saving and potential improvement in productivity as well as efficiency will provide the ‘excuse’ that is required for it to be implemented.

“Organisations could take full advantage of the shift in working practices and assess how they can exploit it as an opportunity for both employees and employers, they could fuse the power struggle between these two parties into a more harmonious and beneficial arrangement. Employers could benefit from increased productivity and engagement among their employees, who could benefit from a more flexibility approach to how they work, thus improving their work life balance.”

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