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Are Stay-at-home or Hybrid Work Arrangements the Solution to Employee Retention?

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

TheFitProfessional1 Newsletter I Published September 28, 2023

Since 2020’s spring peak employee turnover in most industries, CEOs are calling workforces back to work. A recent Harvard Business Review article lamented that the trend is significant and here to stay (1). However, when polled regarding where stay-at-home or hybrid work arrangements are going as a percentage of their workforce, the CEO only predicted a 3% total increase in their force working from home five years from now. That is not a chart change. Some might say, ‘This trend is essentially flat. 'Of the 3% increase, 2%, or two-thirds of the growth, will be hybrid working arrangements where employees must still come to work at least part of the workweek.

What do you think is the reason behind this?

Consider the benefits of people working together. And the costs in lower productivity of sending people to work from home. You get happier yet less productive employees. One survey supports the fact that employees see the benefit of working from home as equivalent to an 8% compensation raise (1). And another study which says the average employee is 10% less productive (1). Not many companies can support a wholesale drop in performance of 10%.

Focused and rational minds will acknowledge there are normal distributions to these numbers. At the high-impact end of the bell curve is the individual who increases productivity and thrives in an at-home or hybrid arrangement. These are the exceptions and predominantly the minority. Don’t be fooled into managing your entire workforce because a policy makes virtually everyone happy and only some more productive. The employee turnover numbers also might suggest that ‘happy’ is not the key to employee retention.

Today, employee turnover rates are still very high. Although settling down from spring 2020 and shortly after, turnover rates will surprise you if you haven’t already checked out the statistics. A simple web search will provide plenty of data across most industries. Using stay-at-home or hybrid arrangements to cure the turnover issue may help but not solve the problem. The same HBR article suggests working from home reduces turnover by as much as 35% (1). This implies that 65% of employees who leave their jobs do not experience an impact on turnover.

Stay-at-home or hybrid programs are likely not your primary answer to employee turnover. Although rational and experienced managers know this, it is tempting for many to jump into stay-at-home or hybrid arrangements with high expectations to be a panacea regarding fixing retention problems. And it’s trendy at this point in history and at the forefront of many human resource conversations. Too many professionals admire those who enjoy such arrangements without respect for the actual impact on organizational results. This is transforming. The decision to call employees back to work serves as strong confirmation that organizations intend to address retention through additional action plans that concurrently uphold productivity.

Here is an abbreviated list for you to consider:

1. Are you managing employees optimally?

We tend to think, sure we are. But are we? Get a third-party look. Experienced professional coaches can spot many shortcomings. Essentially, blind spots you may not see or have forgotten.

2. Are you genuinely hiring employees aligned with your mission and purpose?

This task gets fundamentally harder the more significant the organization receives, based on my experience. It’s worth the extra effort in the hiring process to truly vet alignment. A suggestion is that, if you are 'rushed to hire' (Aren't we all?), you should include a clearly stated probationary period. During this period, as the employer, you can vet the true capability and capacity of the individual to perform while working on validating alignment with your mission and purpose.

3. Are you consistently communicating your mission and purpose?

We do, but employees can quickly get immersed in the demands of their position and lose any understanding and feeling for what and why they work. Remind them often.

There is so much more! An experienced professional business coach can help you through these challenges and guide your decisions. Contact TheFitProfessional1, and let’s get to work. Go to and register for a no-charge consultation – we’ll design your optimal path forward to employee optimization together!


(1) Comments reference Nicholas Bloom’s HBR article: ‘Survey: Remote Work Isn’t Going Away – and Executives Know it’  August 28, 2023 Harvard Business Review

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