In some corporate environments, employee retention can be little more than an afterthought. Only when our human resources burn out do we begin to examine what’s going wrong.
According to Statista, 64% of employees in North America report that they feel high levels of stress, with 34% citing workload as the number-one source.
Many companies are now just starting to understand the importance of offering flexible hours and working remotely. This appeals particularly to millennials, but it can also reduce stress among all employees.
There’s just one problem: People often talk about how “connected” we are, but some things can easily fall through the cracks in a digital workplace culture—specifically, employee appreciation.
However, even small gestures can make a big difference in showing appreciation and can help you develop a long-term working relationship with telecommuters.
Digitize your HR
Digitizing HR is fast becoming an essential strategy in corporate environments. Utilizing the latest software not only shows your employees that you are a forward-looking company, it also enables them to work more efficiently, using smartphones and tablets.
HR technology can automate many functions, including timesheets, recruitment, onboarding, records management, health and safety, benefits, and so on. It can also boost employee engagement. Today’s tools look like apps and social networks, which makes them both familiar and fun, especially for younger workers.
Another important advantage of automation is setting reminders that notify you of an employee’s birthday, work anniversary, or other special event, enabling you to celebrate and appreciate them at the right times.
Implement an online recognition program
Do your remote workers valued? Do they feel like they are part of the team?
It isn’t difficult to implement an online recognition program using your intranet, project management software, or even your team chat app. Managers and team members alike can participate, and it provides an easy way to praise employees for doing good work.
Recognition makes people feel good. It lets them know they are contributing to the greater good of the team and can even deepen their understanding of your company’s core values and culture. So be sure to recognize and reward employees who exhibit strong teamwork, creative problem solving, excellent customer support, or other positive behaviors.
Also, don’t underestimate the ripple effect of recognizing productive behavior—an online recognition program can also bring your team together.
Talk to your remote workers
Schedule a regular time to check in with remote workers. Employees who work in the office have the benefit of connecting with each other and with managers on a regular basis, but remote workers often don’t get the same amount of face time, or even the opportunity to participate in team-building events.
Don’t rely on emails and phone calls alone; schedule video Skype chats as well. Whenever possible, schedule corporate parties or events around your telecommuters’ schedule so they can engage fun, team-strengthening experiences.
Most importantly, always keep the lines of communication open. Communication is the lifeblood of all relationships, and is it essential to retaining your best talent.
Empower your remote workforce
It’s not enough to tell your remote staff what they need to do – try to also offer instruction and guidance on how to consistently produce quality work.
Many managers fail to clarify specific goals and targets for employees, which can create a circle of dysfunction: An employee’s work fails to meet the standards of the manager because those standards were never explained. The manager criticizes the employee’s efforts, and the employee, who may feel that they did their best work, is frustrated. And that frustration only increases when instructions are inconsistent and the manager’s demands seem to be constantly shifting.
Systematization can mitigate potential frustration and inefficiencies. Developing a system of clear processes, checklists, or even an operations manual can help remote workers better understand goals and expectations.
You can also empower employees with resources such as digital libraries, online courses, videos, and so forth, which can help address their need for career growth and advancement.
It’s important for all employees, both in-house and remote, to collaborate. When working on projects, team members must remain in contact with each other, and fostering a collaborative work environment can boost their overall engagement.
Cloud tools can help with this. For instance, in-house and remote employees can collaborate on a document saved in Google Drive. Communication can be done through Skype, Slack, messaging apps, or even text messages. Technology makes it easy for two or more people to work together on a project, even if they aren’t in the same room.
When team members work together and share an experience, it can create a bond. This in turn can curtail loneliness and make remote workers feel more involved.
Companies everywhere are looking for great talent. Unfortunately, skilled, personable, experienced, and qualified individuals can be hard to find. So you need to think about how you can accommodate and retain employees who are looking for non-traditional working arrangements.
When you are flexible with how and when work is done at your organization, you will increase your talent pool significantly. But you must also be diligent in offering recognition and positive feedback to all employees.
For more employee engagement strategies, see How Successful Managers Keep Their Employees Happy.