HRE’s number of the day: workers’ comfort over office return

Employers are thinking about their reopening plans—but employees aren’t ready to go back to the office.
By: | July 20, 2020 • 2 min read


61: Percentage of employees who say they’re uncomfortable returning to the workplace

The majority of workers do not feel safe returning to the workplace, according to new data from Qualtrics. Results were gleaned from a survey of 2,000 people in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

What it means to HR leaders

Although employers are more widely thinking about their reopening plans after closing down workplaces due to COVID-19, a variety of factors is making those plans complicated and risky.

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“According to our recent data, the No. 1 thing that makes employees uncomfortable in the workplace is other employees not taking COVID-19 seriously, followed by a lack of testing for employees, and the recent rise in COVID-19 cases,” says Jay Choi, EVP and GM of EmployeeXM, Qualtrics.

Employees say the safety policies that they feel are most important for companies to enact are: enforcing social distancing (93%), limiting the number of in-person meetings (90%), requiring all employees to wear a face mask (87%) and checking employee temperatures each day before entering the building (82%).

Qualtrics’ new research is proof that it’s “mission critical for employers and HR leaders to consistently engage with their workforce to see how they are doing, what they need, and adjust protocols that balance employee safety with employee trust,” Choi says. “This is an ever-evolving situation and adaptability based on continual understanding of employee sentiment is key to organizations thriving in the new ways we work.”

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.