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As many employees begin to return to the office, HR departments should think about it. how to maintain equity and inclusion at the forefront of the transition.
Employees have expanded their job applications from home citing a myriad of reasons related to family, health, and work-life balance. They are not the employees do not do it they want to go back to work; The circumstances of many employees have changed.
Maybe they had a baby or cared for a full-time loved one. Or maybe they managed to find the sweet spot between taking care of themselves and worrying about work. Whatever happens in an employee’s life, employers can take a proactive approach to equity and inclusion by being flexible about their return to office (RTO) and termination policies.
The goal of using a more equitable and inclusive lens is to keep these workers long-term and provide balance and stability even when the world around us seems uncomfortable. It’s about acknowledging that disgruntled and underappreciated employees often don’t thrive in the workplace. Cultivating inclusion and equity is the way to build a business that resists the passage of time.
Here are some ways to reimagine your return to office and termination policies:
Custom and flexible re-entry
It’s RTO hours and many employees feel the needle of having to pick up where they left off in 2020 and pretend everything hasn’t changed. The truth is yes. Everything has changed and employers should be prepared for certain employees to request flexible RTOs or customize their hours in the office.
During the pandemic, how many employees had children? How many of them had suddenly become ill with a parental figure and had to be cared for? How many decided to go back to school or get another degree while working remotely? All of these circumstances may require flexible re-entry. The goal is not to bend back for all employee needs. Instead, the goal is to understand what circumstances have changed over the past two years and how the needs of employees in the workplace have evolved.
Related: The typical human resources policy for family leave for death
Conversations about RTO
With a drop in hiring that is already here, retention is better than new hiring. Offer employees whose life circumstances have changed and who are unable to fully return to the office the opportunity to continue working from home for a period of time. Maybe they can stay completely remote for a few more months, or come back once or twice a week, or maybe decide on another deal that seems fair to both parties. Remember this is a negotiation, not an ultimatum. Engage in a genuine conversation with employees and find a compromise.
The same goes for employees who are not ready for RTO. Maybe they fell in love with remote work as your company asks them to come back full time. Would you rather have an employee return one or two days a week as a commitment or leave for a company that would gladly allow them to work remotely?
According to Linkedin, teleworking skyrocketed internally with a 60% increase in distance job searches and a 2.3-fold increase in distance job applications since March 2020. Many people no longer want to be in the office several times a week. Some people want more balance between their personal and professional lives. Companies should be flexible with employees who may be struggling to find an interest in RTO after realizing that they are happier and have improved work-life balance while away.
Related: Hybrid work could affect your goals of diversity, equity and inclusion. Here’s how to prepare for it
Confidence issues around remote work
Many business leaders resist the idea of a totally remote workforce. There is the belief that remote workers will not do the job without the watchful eye and control of management. But this idea is based on a lack of trust. According to a survey, 77% of people who worked remotely at least a few times a month reported higher productivity, while 30% said they got more in less time. Remote workers are no less productive while working from home and have proven so over the past two years tin rely on to maintain productivity.
However, some leadership professionals still do not know which employees to trust while working remotely. To cultivate more confidence, management should look at their company’s accountability practices, management training, and perhaps make a change in the company’s culture. There are many solutions that leadership can adopt to feel confident that employees work remotely. However, it is not recommended to ignore the job flexibility needs of your employees.
Related: It explains how to foster diversity, equity and inclusion in a remote world of work
EExtended parental leave, secure leave, flexible mourning and more
When it comes to leave policies, many employees find their employer a bit stingy. The average parental leave in the United States is three months, and is usually only reserved for mothers. Most parents get to the not-so-pleasant end of treatment and often continue to work despite having a newborn.
Parents were part of the equation of making babies. Why don’t they get paid leave? I will not speculate on the historical and gender discrimination that has occurred for decades to exclude parents from parental leave policies. However, I will move into the 21st century to rethink how employee leave might work in our day.
Related: 4 Ways to Encourage Employees to Go Back to the Office
Flexible parental leave
Let’s say someone just had a baby. Perhaps the policy allows for two months of maternal or paternal leave before the employee has to return to the office. How about maintaining this policy but allowing new parents to work remotely for two or three more months? It’s not that parents are off duty; instead, they could ease the way back to work while they continue to feed, care for and monitor their newborn. Most parents miss the opportunity to continue bonding with their young children shortly after parental leave ends. If teleworking is an option for your business, why not let new parents find their own flexibility and balance between work and family life at home?
Permission for foster care and adoption
For parents who cannot conceive physically or prefer adoption or foster care, do they have parental leave options? They should. A father is a father regardless of where the child comes from. If they need time and energy to support, feed, care for and monitor a newborn baby, they should have access to parental leave.
Related: 19 Businesses and industries with radically impressive parental leave policies
Women’s health license
What about women who are at the end of their parenting days or are experiencing physical impacts due to their female health issues? Do they have female health leave? They should. Consider offering menstrual and menopausal leave to women who suffer negative impacts at work as a result of their female health needs.
Has your company considered safe permission for people (of any gender) involved in an abusive relationship? People living in an abusive or insecure situation may need to stop working to receive therapy, treatment, or find new housing. It may be perceived as unkind to ask employees suffering from this type of trauma to use their vacation or sick days to compensate for their circumstances. A special permitting policy that allows employees to take what they need to seek safety and shelter is more than a good idea: it models equity, inclusion, and compassion.
Flexible mourning permit
Thousands of people lose loved ones every year. However, the average mourning leave in the United States is three to seven days. So, are you telling me that to honor the death of a loved one, attend their funeral, mourn their death, and potentially move their belongings only takes three to seven business days? In addition, while grieving, employees may have to present a death certificate of the loved one or show another proof of passage, which can be retraumatizing and challenging depending on the circumstances. The current methodology for mourning may seem unfair, uncompassionate, and difficult for certain employees.
Companies should consider flexible mourning. This would allow employees to work from home for an extended period of mourning in privacy. It would also give them the flexibility to manage the property and affairs of their loved one without the pressure of having to be physically in the office during this difficult time.
As we enter the post-pandemic business era, policies designed to manage and support employees should also move forward. Companies should reimagine the challenges employees face this year, not the ones they faced last year or previous years.
Companies should be wary of the language of these policies: be careful about who these policies are written for and how they might reach certain employees. Developing an inclusive gender language that does not exclude trans or non-gender-compliant people is a way to put a lens of inclusion and equity in your policies.
Reimagining our HR policies is an exercise that addresses the challenges facing employees right now and allows all parties to navigate them right away. Applying a vision of diversity, equity and inclusion (IED) to employment policies can help employees maintain a work-life balance and support retention.