You conduct interviews with candidates to learn whether they would be a good fit for an open position. You invest time and energy in regular annual or quarterly performance reviews to provide feedback to existing employees. Many companies even go so far as to offer departing employees an exit interview, to learn where things may have gone wrong, and to see how they can improve as a company to reduce unwanted turnover.
While this may seem to be a solid level of engagement and communication, there is perhaps one more thing that can be done right now which many Leaders may not have thought of: “The Return To Work Interview.” Of course, a little over a year ago, this would have been completely unnecessary, as the world hadn’t yet furloughed hundreds of millions of employees or set them up to work from home.
Yes, I know the pandemic has “changed everything” and that we are all more than just a little tired of both the pandemic and this conversation about change. However, hear me out.
When you sent your employees home to work, likely no one could have imagined what would happen next. Reports now show that, for the most part, people working from home have adapted so well they don’t want to return to the office. In fact, we are now seeing massive numbers of people resigning who have decided that this is how they want to continue working in the future and are seeking employers that offer at least some form of work from home scenario.
But what about the people who get called back? Do they want to be there? Are they in fear for their health? Do they have children carefully sorted out at home? Do they suddenly hate their commute, even though they’ve been commuting for 10 years? What else are they thinking, feeling, and experiencing?
Just ask them.
In fact, organizing a structured return to work interview will provide a comfortable environment where they can share their thoughts with you in a (reprisal-free) conversation. Great Leaders need the information to be able to make sound decisions. Knowing what’s going on in the hearts and minds of your team(s) is frankly critical to understanding how business has been and will be affected. A once robust, happy, and professional corporate culture could be burned to the ground by a few secretly disappointed and angry employees who feel you simply don’t care anymore.
Show them that nothing is further from the truth.
You may or may not change your mind on anything, but at least you will have accomplished two important things: You will learn incredibly valuable information about the current state of your people and you will have meaningfully demonstrated that you’re still the great boss they remember.
For a more scientific approach, many companies may wish to consider psychometric assessments like DiSC or a Kolbe Index for a deeper understanding. These assessments are inexpensive but highly informative and are in the author’s opinion worth every penny to professional employee-centric businesses.