80% of businesses plan to track office attendance this year, survey finds

Dive Brief:

  • Eight in 10 companies plan to track office attendance in 2024, according to a survey of 800 business leaders conducted by Resume Builder in December. Nearly all respondents — 95% — said employees will see consequences if they don’t comply with the office attendance policy. 
  • Most employers plan to track attendance using badge swipes. Others will track manually, or use Wi-Fi, occupancy sensors or under-desk sensors. 
  • Most respondents said they planned to provide incentives to return to the office, mainly in the form of happy hours, catered meals and upgraded office spaces. Fewer employers plan to offer bigger incentives, like raises and child care benefits.

Dive Insight:

The return-to-office tug-of-war — which began shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic started to cool — continues to rage. Employers appeared to take advantage of a softening labor market in 2023, with many tightening their RTO policies. By June, two-thirds of employees said they were back in the office full time, according to an Owl Labs survey. 

Employers told Resume Builder they planned to enforce RTO because it has a positive impact on productivity (76%) and improves culture (63%). They also said it improves employee satisfaction, although workers and some HR pros have repeatedly stated just the opposite

Employers’ strategy of focusing on happy hours and other quick fixes may not turn around attitudes as hoped. In fact, a recent Visier survey showed workers are spending less time socializing outside of work, largely because they’d gotten enough socialization during the workday and wanted to reserve such time for friends and family. 

“Companies need to provide RTO incentives, but happy hours aren’t it,” Julia Toothacre, resume and career strategist at Resume Builder, said in the company’s blog post on the findings. “Compensation is how to get people back to the office. Working from home saves money on food, gas, car maintenance, and clothing and gives people time back in their day without a commute.”

Whatever incentives they use (or don’t use), employers are on track to force a nearly complete return to the office by the end of this year, according to a Resume Builder survey conducted last August. Some HR experts have cautioned against an overly aggressive approach, suggesting employers maintain some flexibility and consider their company’s unique needs when implementing such a policy.