According to a recent Harris Interactive and Sodexo survey*, the majority of US employees (70%) are still concerned about their own health and safety when returning to the office. But despite those concerns, employees are turning to their employers to create a safe environment - 85% saying they trust their employer will ensure their health and safety at work. Which means that betraying trust could be irrevocably harmful to a currently strong bond between employee and employer.
Of course, there are basic safety measures expected by employees returning to work such as antibacterial gel readily available throughout the office and frequent cleaning and sanitation of common areas. They also expect physical distancing rules to be in place and practiced upon their return.
Lunchtime, an important office ritual, may also look quite different in the future. Safety measures are expected in the lunchroom and businesses should take care to provide thoughtful options that allow employees to still enjoy lunchtime. For example, grab & go food, food delivery, and contactless payment were rated as highly important options in our research.
Employees are paying attention to sustainability efforts, too. As the workforce plans to return to the office, their expectations of employers’ sustainability efforts are higher than they were pre-pandemic. For example, 55% of employees report higher expectations for indoor air quality in the office as an immediate need upon the return. Because the lockdown led to some positive environmental changes, employees also want to know how organizations will continue to be part of the solution.
How can employers maintain employee trust so they continue feeling positively about returning to work? Employers should first ensure all the appropriate health and safety measures are in place as recommended by state and local authorities. Next, these measures as well as sustainability efforts should be clearly communicated to staff in a variety of mediums (e.g. email, posted signs), then reiterated often to ensure understanding and compliance. For those who are willing to go above and beyond, safety audits and publication of audit results can further increase employees’ feelings of safety and trust.
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* Data shown on this page is inclusive of US respondents only (608 online interviews representative of US employees collected from June 11th to June 16th 2020)