How to stay connected, while Canadians remain divided over going back to the office

Canadians fortunate enough to still have a job during the COVID-19 pandemic remain loyal to their employers, but are divided when it comes to going back to their workplaces.

According to a survey conducted by Angus Reid on behalf of ADP Canada, 28 per cent said loyalty has increased because of their company’s response to the pandemic. The feeling was stronger for women (33 per cent) compared to men (23 per cent).

Nearly half (47 per cent) who lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic expect to return to their jobs.

“Employers can increase the likelihood of retaining their workforce by being transparent about changes, staying empathetic, supportive, and informed by soliciting regular feedback from employees, and continuing to prioritize employee health and safety,” said Heather Haslam, VP of marketing, ADP Canada.

One-third of employees said they look forward to returning, 21 per cent said they aren't ready to return, and 11 per cent said they aren’t confident their employer will have the proper measures in place to protect their safety.

Nearly half (46 per cent) said their workloads have increased, facilitated by the fact that 38 per cent said access to technology has increased.

A better approach to feel connected

But technology can only go so far in helping employees feel connected to their workplaces. Brian Kropp, chief of research for Gartner's HR practice, says companies can do more with that technology to help employees.

He says a lot of employees are feeling isolated from their co-workers. A common strategy among employers to increase manager check-ins doesn’t address that.

“While these strategies are important, and helpful, they aren’t enough.  A good amount of the connections that truly matter for employees are the peer to peer connections, not just the manager or organization to employee connections,” said Kropp.

“Those connections (the peer to peer ones) help the employee build their social and emotional connections with other employees.”

Kropp says strategies to help maintain peer to peer connections include:

Use video for employees to share what they are working on and what they are doing

“Several companies have asked employees to make a 2 or 3 minute video of what they are working on to let others know. They then encourage other employees to offer support and help.”

Improve recognition

“One company that we worked with created an online ‘radio’ station where employees can listen to the station during the day and make ‘shout-outs’ to each other when one employee helps another employee.”

Create dedicated social, but virtual, experiences

“For example, companies are having their employees take virtual coffee breaks, virtual walks together, etc.  The desire is to create moments where employees see each other in a much more humanized way and outside of the workplace.”

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

Download the Yahoo Finance app, available for Apple and Android.