Citi workers flouting return-to-office mandate to face consequences: ‘We hold colleagues accountable’

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Citigroup Inc. has begun telling managers to let staffers know they’ll face consequences if they don’t comply with policies for office attendance. 

While the vast majority of staffers are following the firm’s rules for hybrid work, the moves are focused on those employees with persistent, unexplained absences, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Managers will consider compliance with the rules when rating performance and crafting pay packages, the person said, asking not to be identified discussing information that isn’t public.

“We are committed to our hybrid work model and proud of the flexibility it provides our colleagues to work at least three days per week in the office and up to two days remotely,” Citigroup said in a statement. “We have firm expectations for office attendance and know that the majority of our employees are compliant with their requirements. As necessary, we hold colleagues accountable for adhering to their in-office days.

Citigroup is widely seen to be among the most amenable financial firms when it comes to flexible work arrangements following the Covid-19 pandemic. The vast majority of its roughly 240,000 employees are considered hybrid, meaning they are expected to come into the office at least three days a week, and the bank has used the policy to retain and attract employees across its businesses during Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser’s time atop the firm. 

The recent push comes as Citigroup has readied managers for midyear performance conversations. The New York-based company has asked managers to discuss return-to-office policies with staffers who haven’t been coming to the office regularly, and ensure they understand the consequences of continued noncompliance, according to the person with knowledge of the matter. 

As part of an effort to better understand office-attendance trends, Citigroup is considering tracking staffers’ building-entry data in the UK. It has already been collecting such data at major offices across the US.

The company is discussing a proposal with its employee-engagement forum in the UK that would allow it to track individual staffers’ office attendance on a monthly basis, according to a memo to staffers seen by Bloomberg News. The proposal would also allow Citigroup to collect aggregated office data every two weeks for the firm’s offices in London, Edinburgh and Belfast. 

“One swipe per person, per day, per location will be captured,” according to the memo. “The number of hours spent in the office will not be captured in these reports. The focus of the reporting will be on employees with consistent office absence. Reports may then be shared with managers as appropriate to prompt further discussion.” 

For now, the US data has been shared with only the most senior executives at Citigroup, though the firm is weighing creating a dashboard that would allow line managers to have easier access to the data, according to the person with knowledge of the matter. 

— With assistance by Donal Griffin

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