Ever since the global pandemic Covid-19 had been brought upon us, many have retreated into the safety of their homes and begun working remotely. As a result, Google Meets, zoom calls, and Teams meetings became “the new normal” and interaction with co-workers and leaders took place behind a screen. However, after facing the challenges of a home office, the research found that remote workers prefer staying remote, and many offices remain relatively empty throughout the workdays.
As life continues to get back to how it was before the pandemic, companies are finding it challenging to bring their employees back into the physical workplace. But many workers are not sharing the enthusiasm and eagerness to return.
So the question is – how do you persuade employees to come back to the office?
Managers have noticed that The Great Return – as it's being called – isn’t as great as it may sound. Although many employees are thrilled to get back to their desks, others are hesitant to return. However, forcing workers to return is also not the best way to go about it. Forcing workers to return may lead to negative consequences such as discontent, or worse, resignations.
A data survey from Microsoft Work Trend Index showed that 73% of workers say they need a better reason to return to the office than just company expectations. So now, the question becomes, what is a persuasive reason to come into the office?
The answer to this challenge is by giving employees the right incentives that cater to their personalities.
By already knowing who your employees are based on how they behave and interact within the team – companies can use this as an advantage in finding out what will motivate and persuade them into coming back into the office. To do so, there are specific drivers and principles for the different personality types present in your team.
What’s in this post?
- Strategies To Get Your Employees Back In The Office
- Big 5 Traits
- Why You Should Have a Training Platform
Strategies To Get Your Employees Back In The Office
Everyone is different, hence why everyone is also motivated and persuaded to do certain tasks or favors in different manners. However, there are two main recipes that can help you bring your employees back to their office desks: Motivational drivers and Persuasion Principles.
Everyone has motivational drivers that get them out of bed in the morning. For your employees, what motivates them to put their shoes on and get into the office is influenced by biological, intellectual, social, and emotional factors.
Putting in place the necessary measurement and incentive systems to capture employees’ extrinsic motivation, while also recognizing the unique intrinsic drives that inspire each of your employees to work and enjoy their work is the key to building an engaged workforce. These intrinsic motivators differ from person to person, which is why you must get to know your team in order to understand their motivational drivers to get the best out of them.
In 1984, Robert Cialdini published his book on the “influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”. In his book, he examines the elements that influence people’s choices, particularly those related to sales and purchasing. He also identified six fundamental principles that have an impact on people’s decision making. Cialdini’s keypoint is that if you comprehend the six principles, you can utilize them to your advantage when trying to convince people to perform a certain action. In this case, you can use them to persuade and positively influence your employees to get back into the office.
Cialdini’s principles of persuasion are reciprocity, scarcity, authority, commitment and consistency, liking and consensus:
- Reciprocity is the principle of doing favors for others, helping people with their tasks, and praising people’s work publicly to give the other person a feeling of appreciation and reward.
- Scarcity is when there is less of something, the more people seek after it. From a persuasion point of view, it means that you may profit from this principle by decreasing the availability of a service or product in order to raise the interest of it, therefore creating a sense of scarcity.
- For Authority, this principle is about building trust because when we trust people, we are more likely to follow them, and take on their ideas and advice. This further implies that while establishing trust and credibility is crucial in a workplace, it is also possible to get a sense of authority within themselves through receiving recommendations, and being recommended by others to other people.
- Commitment and consistency speaks about being consistent with their identity and self-image. From a persuasion perspective it means that if a manager or leader can convince an employee to act in a certain way, then the employee will begin to think of themselves as that type of person and be more likely to act this way again in the future.
- Liking is simply being easily influenced by those that you like more than those that you don’t. In a work setting, to influence or persuade someone, you simply need to gain the respect of those around you.
- Last but not least, consensus. Also known as social proof. This principle is based on the fact that people are more inclined to do an action if they believe it will be in line with what others have already done or would do. It is simply to convince someone that what they are going to do is acceptable in their group or has already been done so that they feel as though they should do the same as well.
However, these principles connect back to the five personality types as each personality has their own principles on what will successfully persuade them, and what will make them avoid going to the office even more than before.
Big 5 Traits
By knowing who your employees are based on the Big 5 personality traits (extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness), you can already get a better understanding of who they are and how to support them in returning to the office. Starting off with your extroverted employees.
For employees that fall under extraversion, their main motivational drivers lay heavily on rewards, social attention, and excitement. Having extraverted employees means the chances of them being active and outgoing is high, and the chances of them returning to the office are more likely than others. Therefore, they are more easily drawn to where the excitement and social circles are located.
84% of employees were shown to be motivated to go into the office if they could socialize with their coworkers, and 85% of employees would be motivated to rebuild team bonds. Therefore, an extroverted employee that is more likely to be socially driven would enjoy engaging in conversations between office desks and engage in tasks that require in-person interactions. It is where their spirit of cooperation comes into action.
Not only that, but these employees also hold a great desire for acknowledgment and praise, as well as a sense of appreciation for the work they have done. They enjoy being in the limelight, wanting to be seen and recognized for their efforts, and being complimented for their accomplishments. In this case, expressing gratitude for the work they have done, and making them feel recognized is a highly motivational driver for them to come back to the office which in turn, creates a sense of excitement for them and has them look forward to having more workdays in the office.
With extraversion, the principles of authority and consensus will work for those who are the opposite of extraversion, which is introversion. Therefore, those who are more introverted are easily persuaded through credibility and authority as these are the core building blocks of trust. The more trust that introverted personality types gain, the more they will trust your persuasion of them coming back into the office.
Here is an example of what you can communicate to them: "Here at the office, we have a strong, active, and outgoing people like you! You will have lots of fun with them during office hours, and you can also enjoy every coffee and lunch break you will need. We are also going to start a new project that requires a lot of in-person interaction."
Conscientious employees are motivated by achievement, order, and efficiency. They are aligned with responsibility and goal setting. Therefore, their motivation lies in self-discipline and socially recognized success that nurtures their motivational drive for achievement and self-control.
Persuading this employee back into the office can be an easy task if working at the office will guarantee they achieve a work goal efficiently, or have their work recognized and praised. This connects back to being social. Therefore, planning a social activity, task, or event at the office will motivate conscientious employees to come back to the office. Additionally, giving them an opportunity to aim for an achievement that is supported by office resources will also help them with their goal-setting and trait in the organization.
Here is an example of what you can communicate to them: "Here at the office, you will have the opportunity to be more involved and efficient in every task you do. You can really boost your productivity, stay focused on your plans, and achieve your goals more quickly!"
Employees that have traits of agreeableness have communal goals and interpersonal harmony as their two main drivers. These workers also often have other-oriented goals that find it fulfilling to stay in touch with their community and help others who can benefit from their work. They are driven by caring for others, and enjoy helping out, and supporting team members in tasks. To motivate them back into the office, use their supportiveness as leverage to have them integrate new members into the team or to become mentors.
Giving them an opportunity to help other team members, and become involved with the process through projects, and discussions can be a factor that motivates their helpful side, and become motivated by overseeing people, projects, and resources.
In the recipe of persuasion principles, for those with higher agreeableness and conscientiousness in their Big 5, authority, reciprocation and commitment are the 3 main persuasion principles to get them to come back into the office. For this group of employees, managers can find small things to persuade employees to do, and then gradually move onto larger tasks from there. This is because once you convince them that stopping by into the office once or twice a week in the beginning can be beneficial for whatever reason you decide to give, will eventually convince them that they are the type of employees that show up more often to the office and will eventually become a regular employee at their office desk.
Moreover, words of praise, and appreciation will increase your persuasion for higher agreeable employees. By giving these employees an opportunity to help other people and receive public praise for their help will help you to build a stronger relationship with them.
Here is an example of what you can communicate to them: "Here at the office, you will have the possibility to reinforce connections with your colleagues and build your second family. We are also planning to start new projects where we will need you to help other colleagues. It will be a team work where your contribution is valued and crucial."
Neurotic employees are more prone to negative or emotionally anxious states. Therefore, it may take a little more effort and courage to motivate them out of the comfort zone of their home office. But it is very much possible. For employees on a more neurotic personality scale, their motivational drivers are safety and security. Therefore, having a safe and secure workplace is already the first step in ensuring these employees that the office is a safe space for them to return to. One way to do so is to reassure them of their job position, and their valued contribution to the company.
To motivate neurotic employees back to the office desks is to have the office be a ground that offers help and support when needed. Furthermore, employees rating higher on neuroticism will be driven by reassuring, esteeming conduct, and assignments that include short-term goals that promote self-efficacy.
Furthermore, those scoring high on neuroticism are also associated with greater scarcity, liking, consensus and authority for the persuasion principles. This means that in order to persuade them to come back into the office, it will be slightly more successful if the persuasion came from another co-worker that they like, or another team member they work closely with. To get to this point, you can pay your employees more genuine compliments, and identify more similarities between you and them to build a stronger relationship. Through this, persuading them to come back to the office will be a much more enjoyable discussion for both you and them.
Here is an example of what you can communicate to them: "Here at the office, we really appreciate what you do, you know that you are in a safe place. We would like you to come back to the office since your contribution is very much appreciated. Also if you need support and help from your colleagues, they are already there, close to you, and willing to assist you in case of something unknown."
Having employees scoring high on openness means that these employees are willing to try new things and lean more towards creativity. They are also typically open to new experiences. To motivate these employees back into the office – creativity, innovation, and intellectual stimulation are their motivational drives. They usually thrive on staying active and inspired.
To be motivated to come back to the office, such employees will most likely seek to inject fun and enjoyment into their work life, as many employees would. By giving creative tasks to complete that involve other team members, and innovative resources that the office can provide will be a good incentive for employees scoring higher on openness to feel inspired to come into work.
Nonetheless, these employees also thrive on independence, which can make working from home slightly more attractive than spending the day in the office. In this case, the motivation lies on knowing that allowing your employee to get in touch with their creative side and having an office event or duty creates intellectual stimulation to give them a kickstart into becoming more involved in an office routine.
For the persuasion principles, Openness was related to greater commitment and less consensus and authority while those who had more openness would be easier to persuade with greater commitment and less consensus and authority. Therefore, to persuade employees scoring higher on openness is to focus more on finding smaller things to persuade them to do such as minor tasks to be completed in the office that becomes a weekly routine, and eventually moving on to larger tasks that require an in-office presence. This essentials makes the employees more likely to switch to larger favors in the future such as returning to the office full time or for more days in the week. However, it is best to not attach them to what other employees are doing as it can make them feel pressured to conform to the norms of everyone else.
Here is an example of what you can communicate to them: "Here at the office, we have new technologies I am sure you would like to try, We are planning to have a couple of days where each of you can have the chance to test the new tech by solving a creative task. So by being here, you will always have the possibility to have great intellectual exchanges with your colleagues!"
Everyone is different. Therefore, everyone is motivated through different incentives. Getting people back into the office can be a challenge, but not if you focus on the personalities of your team and find out the strengths and weaknesses that may discourage and encourage your workers to come back to the office.
Why You Should Have a Training Platform:
Retorio’s training platform may have the recipe that will help to bring your employees back into the office, and to continue cultivating that “office atmosphere” many organizations have lacked over the pandemic years.
Having a training program allows for everyone in the company to improve their skills. It helps to guarantee that everyone in the team is on the same page and can do their work properly and with enthusiasm and motivation. Weaknesses can be transformed into strengths, and employees can feel more motivated, and inspired to deliver top performance.
With the challenge of leaders and managers trying to get everyone back into the office, implementing a training program can shift the dynamic of the team from one of distance, to one that includes collaboration leading to increased communication and more interaction. This can help alleviate the anxiety that some may face in returning to the office, or the pressure that may be felt. It provides employees with a positive headspace and can remind them on the benefits of being in person. Training programs are also a great booster for an increase in self-confidence, and motivation levels.
With Retorio’s AI training platform, employees will receive feedback on how they are currently being perceived by others and get easy-to-implement tips on how they can improve their way of communication, depending on the exercise they are given to complete.
With AI as part of the training, the feedback received is neutral and unbiased which gives the employees and even more in-depth and unfiltered review on themselves through the eyes of customers and clients. The training also focuses on the Big 5 Personality traits and is personalized for each employee according to their own behaviors and attitudes.
By receiving feedback on the way they respond to exercises, it helps them to feel more confident in their job to approach customers and make employees feel even more involved in the company which can help make coming back into the office seem more enjoyable and motivating for them.
As a leader, it is crucial to recognize that each member of your team will be motivated by a combination set of motivational values and will have unique needs that encourage them to come back into the office. Rather than trying to incentivize people in your team with a one-size-fits-all approach, play to their individual strengths by leveraging their intrinsic drivers and principles and allocating their work accordingly. You will end up spending less time and energy trying to persuade them this way and may end up being disappointed when it takes a negative turn.
Therefore, leveraging the employees’ motivation and skills will improve their performance and allow you to adopt a more delegatory management style. You will also take a step back from operational activities and start focusing on assisting the team to develop new skills and improve on the ones they currently have.
Motivating an employee to return to the office is not about convincing them why the office is better than remote working; it's about gaining the right understanding of your employees and catering to their personality by finding out what drives them, and what makes them shy away from the office grounds. The leader should take a truly individualized approach based on each team member’s motivational drivers and needs, knowing their “why”, allocating them to the right “what” and playing to their strengths on the “how” to get them back in the office.
Do you want to start now, and try out Retorio's AI-powered training platform and get your employees back into the office? Click below!