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What to Do If Employees Don't Want to Return to Work

10 Tips to Retain Top Talent



I have been writing this month about ‘return to work.’ How organizations execute their ‘return to work’ strategy, as well as how they address the potential impact of proximity on productivity, development and advancement, will have a direct impact on the employee life experience. What about those who don't want to return to work at all? CNBC reports that 25% of workers are considering quitting their jobs, while the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) predicts a turnover tsunami once the pandemic ends. According to HR industry analyst Josh Bersin, “We are entering one of the hottest job markets in a decade." Savvy organizations will focus on retention, because it outweighs the average cost employees spend on hiring new talent. And, think about it. You already have great talent who are making significant contributions to the business, understand the workings of your organization and have built relationships with others through whom they get work done. These things alone are priceless! It is critical that leaders dedicate time to review their organization’s culture (and values, mission, vision and purpose), and ask whether their current practices and processes are aligned to foster the desired behaviors and engagement. Reboarding Your Workforce with Your Culture in Mind, as spotlighted in Brian Heger’s Talent Edge Weekly newsletter, suggests considering 5 key drivers of organizational culture when creating your strategy, including communicating transparently, creating new daily rituals, placing greater emphasis on coaching, developing and well-being.

But, not all employees will return to work. Disengagement, lack of flexibility and burnout are cited as 3 of the top reasons employees are considering leaving their current companies. So, what can employers be doing to mitigate the possibility of their great talent deciding not to return to their current work?

10 Tips to Reboarding and Retain Employees

1. Offer more flexibility to accommodate the changing needs of your employees’ life experiences.

2. Reward talent for skills and contributions.

3. Begin to promote and develop internally, providing clarity about the objective criteria used in

making decisions of who gets promoted or receives development opportunities.

4. Listen to employees, accept and thank them for their feedback. Implement feedback you

believe is feasible, challenging yourself to push your envelope.

5. Design and communicate a means for employees to have safe, productive conversations

about how they are doing and feeling.

6. Show your employees you care. Ask them about how they are doing, what they hope to

achieve this year, what they need more of from you and how you can help. Share with them how you

are (i.e., become more vulnerable with them) and the techniques you are using to deal with the

current environment.

7. Equip managers with the training and resources they need to effectively coach, develop

and lead their teams.

8. Empower your employees to do their work and take the appropriate actions.

9. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate... even after you believe you have

over-communicated. Be relevant, transparent and empathetic.

10. Role model the behaviors you want to see from your team members.


Gartner HR Research finds that “leaders can play a critical role in helping employees and managers navigate divisive topics and potential disruptions.” Click below for the full article and additional tips.



When employees do decide to depart for non-performance-related and voluntary reasons, don’t say, “Good bye.” Follow the strategic offboarding process and say “Welcome to your organization’s alumni group.”


If you would like to discuss how to plan for your employees’ reboarding, engaging and retaining your employees, upholding your company culture or creating an off-boarding plan, please reply to this email for a consultation.

Wishing you good fortune in retaining your top talent. It’s hard work, but well worth it!


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