It's been a few years since the world turned upside down following one of the most life-altering pandemics. Since then, the way we see the world has changed. One of the biggest changes has been the way we work as more people embrace remote working hours and arrangements.
The reimagined remote workplace is now a reality. The challenges ahead may seem even more daunting because no one seems to have a concise playbook. But more and more want to crack these flexible work arrangements since it seems to:
Improve employee satiscation
Lower the employee turnover rate
Save companies and its people a lot of time and resources
Improve employee feedback
Promote a healthy work-life balance
Allow for personal and professional development
And so on
Why Employees Want Work From Home Setups
Amidst the great pandemic, we also experienced the great resignation, where many company staff moved out of long-term jobs to seek new opportunities. Companies lost their best employees and career development tracks got cut at the bud.
During this time of high turnover, companies sought out ways to improve employee satisfaction so they could keep retaining employees and improving employee morale. Managers looked to new strategies that would normally not work for on-site employees. And little by little, we're now figuring out employee happiness in the new normal.
How to Improve Remote Employee Retention Strategies
But all this talk about how remote work is improving the employee retention rate doesn't mean that people will stay when you let them work from home. There are a lot of things that go into retention rates.
You have to have a system in place for flexible schedules so everyone remains productive. You also need to figure out employee recognition and interaction even without the face-to-face spaces.
Don't worry - we've got you covered.
These days, engaging and empowering your remote employees may be as difficult as herding cats.
Hank may never figure out that the team can only see the top of his head on Zoom.
Laura’s puppy, while adorable, has very little to contribute to the weekly check-in.
Tabitha’s oversharing on Slack, derailed the project six different times in two months.
And the only thing good about Marketing’s “Game Night” was that it wasn’t recorded.
No one needs to relive that!
Granted, this shift isn’t easy.
According to a recent survey by the Society of Human Resource Management, over 70% of employers report struggles with shifting to remote work. This can lead to hostile feelings towards a job or the business leadership team, causing problems like low employee engagement, low morale, burnt-out team members, or high employee turnover.
Another survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers finds that about half of companies report a dip in productivity with this shift. This can be caused by various factors such as struggling to keep a healthy work life balance regimen with remote work setups, a poor virtual onboarding process for new hires, or difficulty in getting the team together virtually to strengthen company culture or camaraderie.
This dip may have something to do with internet access, a home filled with children, or a hesitancy to adopt new technologies.
A recent Stanford University study found that only 49 percent of folks who responded to the survey can work privately in a room other than their bedroom. There’s another big challenge — online connectivity.
Internet connectivity for video calls has to be 90 percent or greater, which only two-thirds of those surveyed reported having. The remaining third have such poor internet service that it prevents them from effectively working from home.
Then there’s the isolation…
It's human nature to enjoy being part of a group. Creating that camaraderie is the responsibility of managers, who are now also working remotely. If people can’t see or talk to one another every day, can’t pop into someone’s office for a chat, go to the gym after work with one another, the esprit de corps can disappear.
The result is many employees who leave, further burdening the organization with the prospect of hiring new people or retraining people already on board. Sadly, even a company's top talent can leave with this burden no matter what kind of pay raise you offer them.
The Good News
Many of the same employee retention tactics that worked in the “old normal,” still work today. They simply need to be adjusted to address the nature of remote work.
We've published a great series of guides that you'll find very useful for coming up with activity ideas to engage & retain a remote team:
There are seven strategies any size organization can employ to help retain and empower remote employees.
The learning curve on new technology can be scary. Remind your employees that people much smarter than them built these platforms, and they cannot break anything. Instill a sense of curiosity with your employees when it comes to investigating new tech. Their investigations will lead to confidence and ownership. Be patient. Not everyone adopts new methods at the same pace.
Isolation can destroy teamwork. So, schedule a weekly pulse-taking session. Keep it brief and limit the individual sharing to four minutes each. Pick a timekeeper who can alert the employee when their time is almost up. The ability to get challenges out in the open is productive and therapeutic. Most people are going through the same thing, and knowing they are not alone, lessens the burden. A problem shared is a problem halved.
Send out a simple Jotform at regular intervals to every employee. What is their priority today? This week? Where is the flow of work housed? Who is responsible for the next step? What kind of support would make completing the task easier? Reminding employees in a simple, straightforward way of their tasks and micro-goals, keep the line of communication open and increases personal productivity.
Develop a company-wide system of support and encouragement. If you have a CRM, it can be built there. Put FAQs and simple video shares there, so anyone can access them at any time. Drop videos about new systems and processes, so employees can watch them at their leisure. Use tools like Slack to break out different workgroups into smaller group chats and enable notifications for higher-ups. They will be automatically alerted if something needs a response. It’s important to instill the idea that questions never go unanswered and that employee concerns are taken seriously.
When welcoming new employees to their new job roles, get their co workers to send a short welcome message to them on their first day. This gesture could feel small and insignificant, but it drastically improves the employee experience for new workers.
Make sure to have higher-ups schedule one-on-one meet-ups with each team leader. Go over wins, areas for improvement, and next steps. No more than 15 minutes. Then ensure that the meeting is transcribed using a platform like Temi, and the action steps are communicated with everyone on that team. Again, accountability and transparency can be easily achieved using technology. But humans still have to initiate the process.
Transparency about deadlines or roadblocks helps employees feel in control. It’s easy to get lost when in-person accountability is no longer part of a regular workday. Make sure you have a project management system that illustrates the flow of work in a simple, “To Do, Doing, Done,” way. Use a platform like Trello or Asana, which are both incredible organizing systems that show this movement. It’s also able to assign tasks on individual “cards” complete with deadlines and a place to drop necessary assets.
Have your employees pick several topics that are not about work, anything other than work. Get on a group call, and if the platform is set up for it, let folks break out into smaller groups to discuss the topic of their choice. Or Invite guest speakers to discuss issues that excite your employees. Sourdough starters. Productivity. Social Justice. Homeschooling. Mindfulness. The list is endless, and most experts are delighted to come for an hour and share their stories. Remember, the well-being of you and your co-workers is the key to higher productivity and ease.
One remote employee retention strategy that can help strengthen connection and improve the work environment is to have a virtual open door policy. Encourage open communication and invite remote workers to set a meeting with you to just talk about struggles that aren't necessarily work-related.
It is difficult, during unprecedented times like now, to look at change as an opportunity. Finding a sense of optimism can also be downright hard. When there is a solid plan that incorporates transparency, accountability, and humanity, the shift toward the “new normal” can actually be transformative.
Now can someone tell Hank we can’t see his face?