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Lawsuits Over RTO Mandates, Children Using AI, and Making Your Office Irresistible Again

Published about 1 month ago • 6 min read

News Spotlight

Employees are suing companies over RTO mandates. With companies requiring office attendance, many workers are complaining to National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Washington Post).

Workers seek work-life balance and higher wages. While overall job satisfaction for U.S. workers is positive, their contentment dropped for wages and work-life balance (Wall Street Journal).

Should children use AI? Preschoolers will do jobs that don’t currently exist when they are of working age so experts are recommending that parents teach them to use AI starting at age 6 (Daily Mail).

Stat of the Week

Employees who switched jobs in 2022 scored higher on 26 separate components of job satisfaction, from wages to work-life balance and culture, but more recently, those who quit said they were less pleased than those who remained, a new study finds.

People who choose to stay with their employer instead of frequently changing jobs often experience higher job satisfaction due to several factors. Firstly, tenure within an organization allows individuals to build meaningful relationships with colleagues and develop a deeper understanding of the company culture and values, fostering a sense of belonging and camaraderie. Long-term employees often have a greater sense of stability and security, as they may have established themselves within the organization and built a reputation for their expertise and contributions, leading to greater job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Deep Dive Article

How Employers Can Make the Office Irresistible Again

The push to bring employees back to the office, whether part-time or full-time, has proven to be a formidable challenge for many employers. After adjusting to the newfound flexibility and work-life balance of remote work during the pandemic, a significant portion of the workforce has been resistant to returning to the traditional office setting. Employers have encountered reluctance from staff who are unwilling to relinquish the conveniences of working from home, such as eliminating commutes and maintaining established routines.

Despite efforts to lure employees with office perks, social events, and collaborative workspaces, these incentives have yielded mixed results. Some workers remain unconvinced that the benefits of in-person interactions outweigh the costs of disrupting their remote work arrangements. Navigating this complex landscape requires a delicate balance, where employers must respect employee preferences while ensuring business continuity and fostering a strong company culture.

One major factor influencing office work resistance lately is the rising cost of being there. Capterra’s 2024 Cost of Work Survey sheds light on these return-to-office challenges while identifying the benefits and perks that would entice employees to come back. The study found that 60% of employees globally report that their personal financial costs associated with their current job, including childcare, utilities, and commuting, have increased over the past 12 months Yet of the workers in the survey who have seen their costs to work rise, 75% say their wage or salary has not kept pace to compensate.

Other key findings from the study include:

  • 45% currently work fully onsite at a company workplace compared to about 14% that work fully remote or hybrid.
  • About the same amount (~42%) would either like to work remotely full-time or hybrid.
  • 44% say the primary reason they would prefer to work remotely is to improve their work-life balance compared to only 5% that say it is to boost their productivity.
  • 36% would be willing to take a pay cut to work remotely or continue working remotely.

Watch my interview where I discuss how the future of working will be hybrid.

Striking the right balance between accommodating employee preferences and meeting business needs is crucial when navigating the return to the office. Employers must listen to worker concerns about issues like commuting, work-life balance, and personal safety. At the same time, they need to consider factors like fostering collaboration, maintaining company culture, and ensuring operational efficiency.

Based on the data, employers can make the office more appealing by offering the following benefits and perks that can mitigate or reduce these rising costs for employees:

1. Subsidize transportation to combat commuter costs.

As employers strive to encourage employees to return to the office or increase their in-person presence, offering subsidized transportation options can serve as a powerful incentive. The costs and hassles associated with commuting are often significant deterrents for employees considering a return to the workplace. By providing subsidies or reimbursements for parking fees, toll roads, public transportation passes, or even gas expenses, employers can alleviate these financial burdens and make the commute more palatable.

The study found that employees think that employers should pay for the following transportation expenses to work onsite: parking (72%), toll roads (51%), public transportation (50%), and gas (39%), Overall, 64% of employees surveyed would enjoy working onsite more if their company offered these commuter benefits.

Beyond the monetary benefits, subsidized transportation can also contribute to employee satisfaction and work-life balance. Covering commuting costs demonstrates an employer's investment in their workforce's well-being and a recognition of the challenges associated with traveling to and from the office. This thoughtful gesture can foster a sense of appreciation and loyalty among employees, enhancing their overall job satisfaction.

2. Offer flexible work schedules and hybrid work arrangements.

In the post-pandemic era, offering flexible work schedules and hybrid work arrangements has become an increasingly effective way for employers to entice employees to return to the office or increase their in-person presence. If you start with the assumption that some kinds of work should be in-person, but others can remain remote, then it's more feasible to create an RTO policy that strikes the right balance between company interests and employee morale.

After experiencing the convenience and work-life balance of remote work, many employees are reluctant to return to rigid 9-to-5 office schedules. By providing flexibility, such as options for compressed workweeks, staggered start/end times, or a mix of in-office and remote days, employers can cater to diverse employee needs and preferences. The Capterra study found that 69% of employees would enjoy working onsite more if their company offered flexible work schedules.

This approach not only demonstrates trust and respect for work-life integration but also alleviates concerns about commuting during peak hours and managing personal obligations. Empowering employees with choice over when and how they work can foster greater job satisfaction, loyalty, and productivity, ultimately creating a more enticing value proposition for increased office attendance.

3. Provide free or subsidized food.

As companies strive to encourage employees to return to the office or increase their in-office presence, providing free or subsidized food can be an effective incentive. The study found that 76% of employees globally would enjoy working onsite more if they were provided free or subsidized food at the office. A separate study found that the average worker spends $29 each day on breakfast, coffee and lunch so that cost savings would really add up over the course of a year.

Food is not only a fundamental human need but also holds cultural and social significance, making it a powerful tool for creating a desirable workplace experience. By offering complimentary meals, snacks, or discounted cafeteria options, employers tap into a basic yet universally appreciated perk that can make the office environment more inviting and comfortable.

Beyond satisfying a basic need, free food fosters a sense of community and facilitates impromptu social interactions among colleagues during mealtimes. These casual connections can enhance team bonding, collaboration, and overall employee engagement. Additionally, the convenience of having meals readily available eliminates the need for employees to venture out during their workday, potentially increasing their productive time in the office.

Providing high-quality, diverse, and healthy food options demonstrates an employer's investment in their workforce's well-being and satisfaction. This can contribute to a positive company culture, boosting morale and fostering a sense of appreciation among employees. In a competitive job market, such perks can also serve as a valuable recruitment and retention tool, attracting top talent who prioritize work-life balance and a supportive work environment.

By leveraging the appeal of free or subsidized food, employers can create a compelling incentive for employees to spend more time in the office, fostering a vibrant and collaborative workplace culture while catering to their workforce's fundamental needs and desires.

4. Promote on-site wellness benefits.

Providing on-site wellness benefits can serve as a powerful incentive for employers looking to encourage employees to return to the office or increase their in-person presence. By offering convenient access to gym facilities, fitness classes, health screenings, counseling services, and even relaxation spaces within the workplace, companies can demonstrate a genuine commitment to their employees' overall well-being. These amenities not only promote healthier lifestyles but also foster a sense of value and appreciation among the workforce. The Capterra study also found that 57% of employees would enjoy working onsite more if their company offered onsite wellness benefits like a gym or yoga classes.

Employees may be more inclined to spend time in an environment that prioritizes their physical and mental health, reducing the need to juggle personal wellness activities outside of work hours. On-site wellness offerings can cultivate a positive, supportive company culture, enhancing job satisfaction and employee loyalty, ultimately serving as a compelling draw for increased office attendance.

Thanks for reading — be sure to join the conversation on LinkedIn and let me know your thoughts on this topic.

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