Despite driving out talent, companies continue RTO mandates

Dive Brief:

  • Despite RTO policies continually driving away talent, 1 in 4 companies are planning to increase in-person work days, according to Resume Builder. 
  • Half of companies responding to a Resume Builder survey already ask workers to be in the office 4 out of 5 days a week, they said. Overall, the majority of company respondents are planning to maintain in-office days, if not increase them.
  • Still, 80% of surveyed employers reported losing talent due to RTO mandates.

Dive Insight:

Experts on labor and workplace culture have spoken ad nauseam about the damage that RTO does to talent retention.

About 3 in 4 HR executives told The Conference Board they were struggling with RTO policies; 71% said they struggled to retain workers after mandating on-site work.

One business school professor previously told HR Dive that an all-or-nothing RTO approach is a mistake.

Regarding this problem, The Conference Board’s VP of Human Capital Robin Erickson said in a statement that the C-suite needs to “develop policies that balance workplace flexibility with the cultural and social benefits of on-site work.” Erickson emphasized that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, but that “hybrid work is the likely solution in many instances.”

Still, the ongoing discourse about RTO is unsurprising. Researchers told HR Dive that RTO debates will continue to be a top HR trend throughout 2024; employee respondents to a 2022 Gartner survey said that the cost of returning to the office outweighed the benefits, even as 3 in 4 HR leaders told Gartner they’d mandated on-site attendance in some form.

To be fair, on-site requirements may no longer be a deal-breaker, one HR consulting company found early this year. While 50% of workers prefer fully remote work, 55% also said they wouldn’t reject a fully on-site job offer if they were otherwise interested in the position.

More specifically, if mandated to RTO, 41% of workers told TalenTrust that they would ask for more flexibility. More than a third of workers said they would return without questioning.