U of G professor Jamie Gruman outdoor portrait
Dr. Jamie Gruman

With some employees reluctant to return to the office, some employers are thinking of new ways to entice and retain workers. But tactics such as raises and perks may not be enough, says a University of Guelph management expert.  

Dr. Jamie Gruman is a senior research fellow in the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics and a professor in the Department of Management. His research focuses on well-being in the workplace and employee engagement. 

“Sure, in the short term, increased salaries and workplace perks will encourage a faster return to the workplace, but most people are not motivated primarily by money,” Gruman said. “Better-designed jobs and organizations will have longer-term benefits.” 

One tactic that could be used to support employees and encourage their return to office: flexibility. 

“Well-run organizations release the resourcefulness of people, they don’t unnecessarily constrain the freedom of employees,” he said. 

For example, allowing employees to manage their work arrangements can go a long way, he said, referencing his previous work with colleague Dr. Nita Chhinzer on employee well-being. Employers should approach work with a mindset that allows as much autonomy as the job will permit, he added. 

One key form of autonomy is location autonomy, which he defines as “the freedom to choose whether to work at home or at the office.” 

Many employers, including U of G, have adopted formal flexible work policies. 

“More equal choice equals more satisfaction,” Gruman says. 

Dr. Jamie Gruman