HR and employment law specialist Avensure has reported a huge 217% year-on-year spike in enquiries about disciplinaries as businesses call staff back into the office.
It has also seen a 114% increase in calls about conduct and capabilities and a 48% rise in enquiries from bosses looking for advice on absence.
The astonishing figures highlight the challenges businesses are facing as people return to the workplace, either full time or for part of the week. While some have welcomed a partial return, others are unhappy with the loss of flexibility that has become commonplace during and after the pandemic. Many businesses and HR professionals find themselves locked in a workplace ‘tug of war’ with staff who are underwhelmed with the prospect of returning to their desks.
It follows recent data from LinkedIn, which revealed that nearly two thirds of workers are considering finding a new role in 2023 – although a fifth claimed they would stay in their current job if it meant they could continue to work remotely.
February saw a drop in the number of fully WFH roles fall for the tenth consecutive month as businesses call staff back into the office.
Chris Garner, managing director of Avensure, said: “A lot of people have become accustomed to working from home and haven’t been receptive to the idea of losing the flexibility WFH offers. It is clearly proving to be a difficult adjustment given the massive increase in calls about disciplinary action – we’re seeing a lot of issues around inappropriate behaviour, such as bullying, aggression and disrespect, misuse of the internet and people not turning up for work.
“Timekeeping seems to be a big problem; after spending 2 years moving from their bedroom to their computer, whether the kitchen table, the sofa or a home office, some now find themselves making a lengthy commute. It can be a big transition but it’s important to be open with employers about any issues they’re facing or if they’re struggling to manage. A lot of these issues can be dealt with and solved before they reach the stage where disciplinary action is necessary.”
Avensure also attributes the rise in absence enquiries to the end of WFH, with employees much less likely to ‘struggle on’ if they’re feeling under the weather.
Chris continued: “It’s a challenging time for businesses so they need to be able to focus on growth with a team that is engaged and pulling in the same direction – instead of being bogged down with HR issues. The purpose of bringing people back to the office is to boost productivity, collaborate and share skills – discontent and low morale will have the opposite effect.”
Avensure advises businesses across a range of sectors and industries, from start-ups and SMEs through to household brands like Vodafone, Papa Johns and NHS 111. Benefiting from expert sector knowledge, the team supports businesses in handling any HR and health and safety challenges, including legal queries, with expert advice available around the clock.
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