Ever since Boris announced his roadmap out of lockdown, HR departments and internal comms teams have been considering the best ways to transition people back to the workplace or adopt more permanent hybrid models. A recent article suggested 26%2 of the UK workforce could work remotely 3-5 days a week as effectively as if they were in the office.
Whichever route companies choose, they need to think about how to motivate furloughed and remote workers who’ve spent a year apart from colleagues and customers. How best to communicate with them in an authentic and engaging way?
Having lived in relative isolation for so long with the mental health challenges that brought, people are feeling quite starved of physical connection. Printed care-packs could therefore provide a welcome sensory engagement. Emails can easily sit unopened whereas a piece of mail is physically picked up, noticed and will remain in homes for up to 28 days.
In February, we designed a simple Valentine’s Day card for the Independent Print Industry Association (IPIA). Its message acknowledged members’ resilience and creativity and offered words of encouragement. Judging by the LinkedIn shares of the card, it was evident how well received the simple message of love and support was. Love’s not often used in a business context but, as Peter Docker advised at the IPIA’s EPIC conference last December, we should embrace it.
Posting ‘welcome back’ packs to colleagues at home, personalised to each, would connect on a really physical level. We know consumers want to be impressed, cared for and considered by brands; the same can be said of their employees. Digital certainly has a place in human connections but physical is better placed to instil trust and a feel-good factor. Hampers, gifts and personalised thank you’s are experiencing somewhat of a resurgence as they shout ‘we thought of you’.
And that’s a good thing after the year we’ve all had. We produced care packs last autumn for returning staff members of the Huddersfield Town Foundation. By also adding in branded items like notebooks, travel mugs and sports bottles, the staff felt good about kicking off the new season.
Gestures don’t have to be huge, just personal and heartfelt like the IPIA’s Valentine’s card. Research* shows that 44% of people looked forward to receiving mail during lockdown, it was a welcome interruption and provided a sense of connection.
Posting something to returning workers could prove the link back to the meaningful connections we’ve all been missing since being told to stay at home. We’d be happy to discuss any approaches you might be considering to welcome back colleagues, contact us now at firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Source: McKinsey & Company