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Your Top 12 Return to the Workplace Questions Answered

Author: Kim Freeman, Esq.

Many employers asked workers to quickly transition to remote work when the pandemic swept the US in spring 2020. Now, with more COVID-19 treatment options and abundant vaccines, for many, it's time to return to worksites.

Employers face several challenges in bringing employees back to traditional workspaces after this life-changing event. Employees may be anxious and fearful to return because of health concerns for themselves or vulnerable family members. They could have complications with child or elder care that they did not previously. Some employees may simply prefer not having to commute to work every day.

Handling these issues with compassion and consistency is essential, especially given the tightening of the job market. Even in the best of times, failure to retain good employees meant a hit to the bottom line. According to Gallup, turnover and replacement cost businesses one-half to two times an employee's annual salary. And these days, it may be difficult to replace the person at all.

Human resource professionals play a significant role in helping employees to return to workspaces. Hopefully, part of your return-to-workplace plan was surveying employees about their concerns. If it wasn't, it's not too late to ask them how they are feeling and how you can help. Consider quarterly surveys as the transition continues. Workers who believe that their employer cares about them and is transparent with them about return-to-work plans are more likely to stay.

HR must understand the top issues related to moving back into workplaces. Here are some of the questions and answers you'll want to consider as you successfully reopen your workspaces.