Does a return to the office mean employees will quit?

Does a return to the office mean employees will quit?

As employers work to bring their employees back to the office to return to business, employees are having other ideas. In fact, more than half of the employees working from home say they would rather find another job than return to the office. This means that employers are having to work with employees to do what's best for them and the company. But does a return to the office mean employees will quit? Let's consider the reasons employees want to work from home, how this affects your company's hiring practices, and what you can do to keep your employees happy.

Why do employees like working from home?

After being required to work from home for the last couple of years, employees are used to some of the benefits this work structure provides. They aren't quite ready to give it up. A study from Clarify Capital reports that 68% of employees would rather search for new employment than go back to the office. That's a large number. The main reasons people prefer working from home are:

  • They don't have to commute
  • They don't have to buy lunch
  • They can spend more time with their family
  • They spend less on clothes
  • They can create their own schedule
  • They don't have to attend meetings in person

Fortunately, employers can learn from these preferences to incorporate employee needs into their overall hiring strategy and how they evolve their ideals to better match what employees today are looking for. The study also found that the desire to continue working from home is higher among Gen Z employees and millennials. This means you may have to work harder to get these individuals back to the office.

How can a return to the office affect your company?

Since a return to the office might mean employees will quit, this trend definitely affects your company. There are several issues that your HR team might face if your company is asking people to come back to their jobs as they used to be. Employees are often willing to negotiate, but they're going to be asking for changes, so you need to be prepared. These are a few ways that a return to the office might negatively affect your company:


As you work with people to bring them to the office more regularly, you may encounter resistance. If you do push, they could quit. Having this loom over you and your employees can create instability. You don't know if you're going to need to hire and train new people, and they aren't sure whether they'll have to start looking for new employment. Be willing to work with your team to make the transition smooth.

Poor company culture

Employees who are unhappy about returning to the office might have a poor attitude when they're at work. This can negatively affect the rest of the staff, creating a poor company culture. This is why it's important to strategize for your upcoming transition and know what you need to offer to ensure everyone comes back and is ready to work.

"A study from Clarify Capital reports that 68% of employees would rather search for new employment than go back to the office."

Less productivity

When you do get your employees back to the office, be ready for a slowdown in productivity. Your employees will need time to adjust to being around each other, and they may get distracted by their peers more frequently. If you're prepared for this, you'll plan time to socialize into the day to keep everyone on task when you need them to be.

Increase in absences

Some employees might get sick more often because they haven't been around very many people, which means more absences due to illness. There are many people who would still perform some work tasks even when sick if they were working from home. This increase in absences will play into the slowdown in production as well.

What can you do to keep your employees happy?

To counteract the negative effects your company may face when asking employees to return to the office, your hiring team will need a solid hiring plan. In this plan, hiring managers should consider some tactics that might entice employees to stay so that a return to the office doesn't mean that employees will quit.

Offer flexibility

You may get your employees back to the office if you offer them a compromise. Many companies are adopting a hybrid work platform that allows employees to work from home part of the time. This could mean only requiring them to come in once a week or a couple of times a month. If your company can offer to let employees continue to work from home, it's recommended that you do, as it's what employees want. 

However, many employees are willing to return to the office at least some of the time, but it may come with some requirements. They might want a more flexible schedule that allows them to pick up their kids from school or go to the dentist without having to request time off. This is something that makes them appreciate not coming to the office.

Provide more perks

Other perks you can offer to lure your employees back to the office include providing additional benefits, such as more time off or better medical insurance. These things are important to your employees. If you know your team members well, you can target your offers to meet their individual needs. For example, if you know a lot of your employees have pets, you could offer a veterinarian day that lets people take a day off when their pet has an appointment.

Promote health by offering mental health resources and exercise breaks. Encourage everyone to get outside at some point during the day, and consider having healthy snacks available. You'll have to get creative and understand what your employees need to be successful.

Increase salary

While many employees say that a salary increase isn't as important as being able to work from home, money is still an attractive feature that appeals to your employees. So don't leave this out when it comes time to make an offer. The pay increase employees want might be satisfied by an offer to pay for gas or public transportation fees they need to get to the office. Some employees may ask for a moderate or even large pay increase if you want them to return to the office and not quit.

Give rewards and recognition

You'd be surprised by how many employees may come back just for rewards and recognition. Employees want to feel like they're an asset to the company, and if you can show them how much you appreciate them, they're more likely to feel satisfied in their role. Think about implementing a new rewards policy that helps employees see the value they bring to the company. Offer recognition to employees for:

  • Being on time
  • Completing tasks
  • Providing great service
  • Being innovative
  • Helping the team

When you reward people for their hard work, it encourages others to strive for success and praise as well. This breeds a positive company culture and makes your workplace an environment where people don't mind coming to the office.

Does a return to the office mean employees will quit? If you don't have the right strategy and the best hiring practices on your side, you could lose employees if you want them back at the office. This guide can help you understand where your employees are coming from and what you can do to keep everyone happy when coming back to the office is necessary.

Find out more about what employees want: 

You can reward employees working from home. Find out how.

Learn how to announce a promotion through an email in seven steps.

Discover why so many Americans are looking for work so you can use it to your advantage.

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