Every organization’s return to work path is unique. Some organizations did not go remote, some went fully remote and plan to stay that way, and others are currently looking to bring their workforce back to the office.
One of our clients will be moving to a hybrid work environment this coming January. As their keen and clever culture experts, we brainstormed some ways they can welcome employees back to the office throughout the first week (or even month), and we’re sharing it with you. Remember onboarding is more than just one day!
The key is to treat your return to work as if you’re re-onboarding employees – because that’s what you’re doing. You’re bringing employees back into a culture that was disrupted, and likely left your workforce feeling isolated.
And, you may have employees who joined your team remotely and will need to figure out how things are done around the worksite. They definitely need some true onboarding, especially if they’ve never met their coworkers in person.
Get your entire workforce – from newbies to veterans – excited about returning to work by:
- Asking the CEO to write a personalized welcome back email to the entire workforce (even better if it’s a video). There’s nothing like having the head of the company take time out of their day to share a positive message.
- Asking the leadership team to handwrite thank you notes to all of their staff. It’s been a challenging two years and you’d be surprised how far a small thank you can go.
- Making the first day back a celebration. Decorate the office with banners, streamers, balloons, and anything else that screams FUN. Then host lunch, happy hour, or some other sort of group activity to bring everyone back together.
- Conducting some ice breaker activities, to get everyone reacquainted and get newbies up to speed.
- Catering lunch for the first week, so employees don’t have to worry about bringing lunch or finding a place to eat.
- Creating opportunities for employees to connect. For example, host a lunch n learn, conduct an all-staff meeting, or encourage managers to meet with their team one-on-one throughout the week.
- Asking employees take a “First Day of School” photo and posting them for everyone to see. Bonus points if you post the pictures on social media as a part of your employer branding strategy.
- Establishing a new workweek tradition such as Bagel Mondays or Coffee Fridays. Involving employees in the decision making will increase their loyalty to your business a little, and so will the tradition itself.
- Hosting a friendly competition. Some examples include a desk makeover competition, a scavenger hunt around the office to get people reacquainted with the space, and employee bingo (each square has a fun fact about an employee, so to get bingo they have to learn about each other).
- Purchasing custom gifts for everyone. Depending on the gift you could send it prior to the first day (e.g., a custom coffee tumbler for the commute) or leave it on their desk for when they come in. The more creative the better!
The last and perhaps most important step is to conduct a climate assessment so you have some data about how employees are feeling about the current organizational culture, coming back to work, and more. Include some questions around internal communication, engagement, job satisfaction, and return to work.
The data will help you create a strategy for re-building and maintaining a positive workplace culture.
Let us know if you’d like some help with your survey.
Rebecca, and The Civility Partners Team