The reasons behind the Great Resignation are as varied as the movement is widespread. Yes, people want to get paid more money or they want a better job title, but some people crave more flexibility or continued work-from-home perks. So when you're calling people back into the office, take care, as you may end up losing some of your top employees.

As they return to the workplace, "organizations need to consider how it's going to make people feel," says James Bailey, professor of leadership and management at George Washington University. "You're going to change their lives, so be sensitive."

For starters, some employees moved away, and any kind of return to work will necessarily require a major shift. What's more, they may not be able to afford to move back. While some people may have left cities for more space, others lost housing because of rent spikes, or moved to care for sick loved ones. Asking people to uproot the routine they've known for two years can be difficult, and in some cases you may want to make exceptions.

Here's how to handle the return to work, delicately:

Make it clear why you want people back.

Tell your team why you want them back: It's good for the organization, as collaboration and creative collisions are more likely to happen when you're all together. But it's also good for employees, and you should definitely broadcast the reasons why that is. There are social benefits of being in an office, including being able to connect with like-minded people and make friendships. 

Coming into an office can also be good for employees' professional lives. Junior employees can showcase leadership skills; they can connect with mentors, too. "When people are remote, it's far more difficult to mentor them and provide them with the nuances and skills they need to advance their careers," says Teo Vanyo, a 40-something CEO of Stealth Agents, a Cherry Hill, New Jersey-based maker of virtual assistants.

Let employees voice their resistance.

Chances are you're going to have some people resist the return to the workplace. It's important that these "active resisters," as Bailey calls them, don't feel like their opinions are being shunned in the process, as it could foster resentment and, in the worst case, lead to multiple resignations. That's why whether it's a meeting with HR and leadership, a group discussion among colleagues, or a private discussion with a manager, it's best to hear directly from the employee what their hesitations and circumstances are. It's less likely that an employee will disagree with a decision as long as they feel included in the process, Bailey notes. 

You should also give supporters of the return-to-work plan an equal platform to express views, because in the best-case scenario, they're able to offer resistant employees support and encourage them to come back. Keep in mind as well that middle management should also be trained how to handle employees who many be resistant, as not all employees are comfortable talking openly with leadership and may wish to go to their direct managers with any concerns, notes Bailey.

Revisit employee contracts.

Before speaking with any employee about their relocation, revisit the employee's original contract to determine how it was written. If it's in an employee's contract that they're required to work from the office or that the job is based in a particular city, you may want to remind an employee who's moved away that doing so violates their original contract, and therefore their employment might be terminated because of it. Also, if you know you'll want people in the office, it's best to mention it in any job postings and interviews so candidates know it's a priority of the employer. 

Consider other options of employment.

There are ways to keep your best employees around even if they've moved away. First, you can hire them as a consultant. A consultant position can allow your star players to still be involved in the process without physically being involved, and it could mean reworking your employee's contract to arrange for them to work on a part-time schedule that better fits their lifestyle. You can also offer them a different position at the company that allows them to continue to work remotely, if such a position exists. This can be an easier sell if you offer reskilling, additional training opportunities, or the chance for the individual to work with a new team. 

Offer return-to-work incentives.

Consider offering programs that make coming back a little easier. This can include traditional cash incentives to cover relocation costs, or the costs of child care, or more flexible hours for when people do come in, such as allowing employees to leave early to pick up children. Even covering child care for a few months can give people the chance to figure out a new schedule, or find new housing or a new way to commute. You can also reimburse your staff for gasoline and transportation costs, though keep in mind it may be expensive and if you cover it for one employee, you'll likely need to cover it for all.

Then, of course, there's food. Employees have been able to fully enjoy meals from the comfort of their homes, so creating a similar experience could make a difference. "Our organization is transitioning from using food as a benefit to using it to keep employees safe and happy," says Robyn Newmark, 40, founder and CEO of Newmark Beauty, a Palm Desert, California-based spa. "We have meals delivered twice daily to avoid staff leaving the workplace and waiting in long elevator lines and busy restaurants."