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  • Writer's pictureRobert A. Dougan, M.A.


Updated: Feb 20, 2022

Many high level Executives are taking a gamble with mandates for employees to return to the office. Just recently, one Executive said to another when they were recently at their head office building, "You can shoot a cannon down these halls...get people back to this office and I don't care what it takes". Not exactly the thing employees want to hear.

The debate right now in the world of work is why are some of these large companies changing their tune for return to office? Sure, we can all understand the massive footprint of real estate sitting empty and many board of directors feeling the need to get people back to the office. Furthermore, many from the old guard executives just don't know any other way to work because they've done it this way for decades. However, a younger generation are singing a different tune, and they are not so loyal to their employers like those of the past where they will work from anywhere and for anyone who will give them the career path they are looking for. A slippery slope for sure, and a talent drain-gain surely in the making.

Back To The Office or Work From Home?

There is no doubt that for some working in the office is important to them because of the personal connections with their colleagues and collaboration. However, for others working for home added work-life balance with no commute times, easier to spend time with family and children, while at the same time feeling less stress and more productive. So the question is, where is the fine line between needing to be back at the office versus working from home or anywhere? Where do Executives stand on workplace flexibility versus pressure from the board to fill the buildings again? Where do employees stand in terms of what they want in their work environment? A lot of these questions need to be answered and everyone has a story to tell of what works best for them.

I think in the end, yes, there will be a further exodus of people leaving their jobs with mandates coming down from the top for a return to the office. Yes, some companies will win who adopt a more contemporary view of work. I don't think this is about who wins, but rather maybe who loses more!

Hybrid work environments are a solution that are being explored by some employers, and they feel this is the easiest compromise. The real question, is this really a compromise for those who found a way to be productive working away from the office? Many workers who are forced into the hybrid model are coming to work with lower levels of engagement because they have to be there, not because they want to be there. Just think about when you had to come into work 5 days a week, eight hours a day. Those eight hours for some were more like twelve to fifteen depending on their commute, plus juggling family or personal time, and doing that last minute ask from the their employer or clients in the evening. Employers on the flip side would say, "well maybe this is not the place for you if you feel it doesn't work well". Some employees might now be saying, "maybe it doesn't work", and for these reason people are seeking alternative career options. I will say to employers that you should be thinking long and hard about your most valuable employees as many of these thoughts may be top of mind as well.

The Future of Hiring Right Now

The pandemic did change people in their views of what was important to them. It also put a microscope on work environments of where people wanted to be in their careers. It changed the way we work, and for many in a good way to be more productive and have less stress. When it comes to the future of hiring it is important to take into consideration what people are searching for in a career really does matter.

People will not be attracted to brands and companies, but more so now places of work that will align with their values and lifestyles. Monetary gain in a career is not priority number one, but rather how does 'my lifestyle integrate into my career'. How you attract candidates to career opportunities will have to highlight these important features and be showcased very well in your job advertisements. If you haven't already, you need to ask the people who love to work for you why they do and use this knowledge in your attraction strategies in your job postings to get the right people. Attraction power in finding new talent is what is holding all the cards when it comes to hiring right now, and if you are not as an employer focusing all your energy on convincing this talent through appropriate marketing then yes you will be left behind.

These are all big questions to consider, and maybe the answers we are looking for are right in front of the individuals who know what they want, but is it what you want?

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