Re-entry Strategy

While we certainly don’t have all the answers regarding re-entry to the office, we know this; the traditional approach of working in the office every day from 9-5 pm is about as extinct as the dinosaurs!

We gleaned insightful themes regarding re-entry strategies after a robust Talent Topics and Trends discussion with industry leaders in HR on August 6th. This group of Senior HR Leaders gathered for the second time to discuss how their re-entry strategy was working and what changes they were making to that strategy given the uptick in Covid cases. Here is what we learned:

  • Work schedules need to be flexible to attract and retain top talent. While this isn’t feasible for all positions (i.e., production, manufacturing, retail), it is for many positions. As we anticipated, the pendulum has shifted in favor of the employee, which means it is in the best interest of employers to really listen to what their employees are asking for.
  • Scheduling for a hybrid work model involves careful planning and decision-making on both sides of the table. Some companies are requiring a formal application and approval process for work from home days; others are leaving it up to the discretion of each manager based on the work that needs to get done. Most companies have established a remote work policy and require prior approval for working from home. One Senior HR Leader said her organization has adopted the following motto: “Be where you need to be to get the work done.”The hybrid model is hands down the preference for employees, and many employers are willing to adapt to that preference. One Senior HR Leader said that 3 out of 5 candidates they interviewed for an open position required a hybrid work model, and they weren’t shy about bringing it up during the interview!
  • Most organizations are asking employees to disclose whether or not they have been vaccinated so they can get a better understanding of the total percentage of unvaccinated employees. Some organizations are requiring proof of vaccination, while others are using the honor system. With the HR Leaders, we spoke to, the number of unvaccinated employees ranges from 20-40%.
  • Unvaccinated employees are required to wear masks at work, and some companies are strongly encouraging all employees vaccinated or not, beginning with Managers, to start wearing masks again to set an example of safety first given the latest surge of the Delta variant.

We found it interesting that many companies have adopted creative strategies around workspace planning when employees do work in the office. For instance, terms like “Hoteling” to reserve your workstation and “Neighborhoods” to work in areas made up of similar people each time you are at work are terms that many of us were not aware of for 15 months ago.

Lastly, we all had dollar signs in our eyes as we learned that this pandemic is costing companies a LOT more money to attract and retain top talent. Everything from large sign-on bonuses to much higher hourly rates. As a result, many organizations are looking at their compensation and benefits package to assess how competitive it is in the market. One organization made the bold move to invest in a widespread compensation alignment which included 4% increases and bringing employees up to the 90% percentile of their pay range. This was all in a pre-emptive effort to retain their current employees and avoid the pitfalls of trying to find and afford top talent in today’s job market. This brings us to our next Talent Topics and Trends meeting scheduled for October.

We look forward to having a compensation expert from Aon Hewitt share current and upcoming trends in compensation.

We will be sharing more detail about what we learned in our upcoming newsletter coming out in September. 

Again, we would love to hear from you and how your organization is managing through this pandemic. Please feel free to share any insights or lessons learned by reaching out to Roberta Bemiller at

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