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Evil managers hoped staff would quit if forced to return to the office

by on11 June 2024

But not enough did

A new study has revealed that managers secretly hoped that shedloads of staff would quit if they were forced to return to the office after Covid so they could cover up a mass layoff plan.

A recent study by HR software company BambooHR examined the impact of return-to-office (RTO) mandates and the evolving work culture post-COVID. The study confirmed suspicions that RTO initiatives may serve as covert layoffs while highlighting the adverse effects on employee well-being.

The study showed that a quarter of executives and a fifth of HR professionals secretly hoped RTO mandates would prompt staff to leave voluntarily. While this unspoken intention acknowledges the real purpose behind RTO, it failed because not enough staff quit.

More than a third of respondents in leadership roles believed their organisations had resorted to layoffs due to insufficient voluntary resignations in protest of RTO mandates. Additionally, many managers wanted employees back in the office for closer monitoring.

The report said the pandemic has given rise to a different office culture—performative, suspicious, and divisive. Both remote and in-person employees feel pressure to demonstrate productivity. For some, this means being visible by socialising and moving around the office.

Ironically, the intense need to be seen may harm productivity. A significant portion of employees (42 per cent) admitted that they show up at the office solely to be noticed by bosses and managers. However, the study suggests that physical presence doesn’t necessarily correlate with increased work output.

Outside the office, employees strive to demonstrate their presence by remaining hyper-available and never going offline. This behaviour, known as the “green status effect,” reflects a desire to be constantly visible.

BambooHR’s head of HR, Anita Grantham, warned that managers were cultivating a distrusting and performative culture that harms overall business growth.

She said that while RTO policies are acceptable, they must consider individual employee needs. The conversation about work modes extends beyond RTO—it’s a multifaceted discussion.

The study underscores the importance of addressing work modes and fostering a supportive environment that prioritises employee well-being and productivity.

Last modified on 11 June 2024
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