Some companies plan to increase return-to-office requirements, despite risk of losing talent

 A quarter of U.S. companies will require their workers to show up at the office more often next year, even though doing so may cause some productive staff members to leave.

That's according to new findings from which surveyed 756 employers at companies with return-to-office policies in place since 2021. RTO mandates have been one of the most divisive issues in corporate America since the nation emerged from the pandemic, with companies and employees often clashing over policies.

Among companies planning to require an increased number of days in the office, 86% cited productivity as the top reason for doing so. That was followed by a desire to improve company culture (71%), employee well-being (57%) and retention (55%). 

However, the findings of at least one study on RTO mandates seem to contradict those motives. Research from the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh found that RTO mandates have no impact on companies' financial performance. It also found that RTO policies can cause a "significant decline" in employee satisfaction. That may explain why 80% of companies in Resume Builder's survey said they have lost talent as a result of their RTO policy. 

"Unfortunately, I think many business leaders make assumptions about things like productivity, culture, and employee well-being,"  Julia Toothacre, resume and career strategist at Resume Builder, said in the report. "Productivity is a result of clear expectations and good management. Culture is driven by people, not physical spaces, and employee well-being is more about how people are managed, their stress levels, and the amount of flexibility they have."

The survey also found that 45% of companies will not push employees to come into the office more often next year, choosing to leave their current RTO policy as is. Another 21% said employees will be allowed to come in less frequently in 2025.

Still, an overwhelming 93% of business leaders believe employees should be physically present in the office and therefore support RTO mandates. Most employers currently require that employees work in the office a certain number of days, with 38% enforcing a minimum of three days per week. Amazon, Apple, and Starbucks are among the companies now requiring workers to come in three days a week.

As work-life balance becomes a higher priority for employees, however, Toothache says companies can expect more walkouts as a result of RTO mandates.

"People may have moved and aren't willing to move again to keep their position," she said. "It's also possible that there are familial responsibilities that require a flexible schedule or the need to be at home. Some people also like working from home or remotely and don't want to return to an office environment." drew its results from a May survey of business owners, human resource managers, supervisors, CEOs, senior managers, and other top decision-makers at companies. The respondents were all over age 25, made over $75,000 a year, and had an education higher than a high school diploma. 

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