With more and more controllers taking some responsibility for the long-term human capital initiatives at their businesses, return to work is on the top of mind right now—even if there isn’t a clear picture of exactly what this means.

Preparing for Return to Work: Focusing on How—Even if You Don’t Know the When

After all, we just need to… flatten the curve? Avoid shocking the hospital system? Discover a safe medication to address the symptoms? Stop deaths? Reduce the percentage of new cases? Find a cure?

Needless to say, return to work timeframes are still uncertain at many businesses. But regardless of the opaque and constantly shifting guidance from governors across the nation, return to work is coming, so it’s best to prepare for a way to ensure businesses come out ahead.

From Connectivity to Connection

But after months of digital-only communications and distanced business, technology has continued to change and become even more deeply embedded in the workplace. But when does it go too far? When do we lose sight of the human on the other side of the screen? How is it changing the workplace dynamic, and what can we do to re-instill human connection into workplaces?

Uncertainty on Both Sides

After all, connectivity doesn’t mean connection, and as we slowly start planning the process of bringing employees back into the office, leadership needs to be mindful of the continued uncertainty. But preparing your team for a confident and future-ready return to work is possible—and it pays to start early.

Purpose, Potential, and Perspective: Three Key Focuses for the Return to Work

According to a recent article on how corporate boards can work to bring more out of (and do more to empower) employees, the return to work presents an opportunity for many companies. Part of a larger study from Deloitte, companies looking to bring the most out of their staff throughout the return to work are encouraged to build a framework focused on three areas—purpose, potential, and perspective.

Purpose: Helping Employees Embrace the Bigger Picture

As discussed in their article, one of the first steps to bringing out the most from employees starts with instilling (or re-instilling) a sense of purpose into your team. By helping your people connect the day-to-day work to the larger mentality and goals of the enterprise, you can help employees feel more value in the work they do.

“Companies should consider moving beyond cost to encompass value and meaning for the workforce and the organization by expanding opportunities and creating new outcomes. […] boards can support management to expand beyond the cost paradigm to understand what meaningful work means to teams and organizations. Building purposeful, meaningful work for employees drives trust and growth.”

Potential: Focus on Development and Expansion

Workers continue to seek out opportunities to grow. With many employees taking time during the pandemic to reskill or upskill, management can take steps to refine and focus this potential in the future. Deloitte recommends the following to bring out this potential from employees:

Rethink the social enterprise. Boards can challenge management to rethink the mission of the organization beyond revenue growth and profit-making to include respecting and supporting its environment and stakeholder network. They can encourage management to create opportunities for talent to learn and grow, both at work and outside of work.

Encourage listening to the workforce. While workforce activism has sometimes been viewed by management as a negative disruptor or a potential risk to the brand, it can be a powerful voice for positive change. It can highlight issues often overlooked or unheard by management, allowing management to listen and respond to the needs and concerns of employees. 

Perspective: Addressing the Future by Acting on Today’s Challenges

Expanding the scope of input from all levels requires you to understand where an employee is coming from. By looking at a perspective-based return to work, leaders can keep a view toward the future while addressing the urgent needs of today, increasing confidence to take bold actions while communicating the reasoning and process behind those actions.

According to Deloitte,

“Boards can challenge management to move beyond current talent paradigms to identify new and emerging strategies to address their business priorities and objectives. This could mean an investment in training and skills-building or realigning the hiring strategy to emphasize specific skills and capabilities. It also could include leveraging the alternative workforce to augment or complement current talent.”

Many Steps, Many Ways to Approach: Stay ahead of the Curve

Motivation is a management skill that few leaders have. If you’re looking to keep your top performers on board and productive as we approach a return to normal, we invite you to join us for all the latest. Get to know more about the benefits of joining the Controllers Council here.

Additional Resources

Planning Your Reentry: HR Tips for Getting Back to Work

How Controllers Can Approach HR Initiatives During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Why the Controller Role is More Important Than Ever—The Decline of Accountant CFOs

OSHA Guidance on Returning to Work