In 2019, many organizations were just starting to make the transition to using flex work and work-from-home as part of their employee retention strategy. Today, it’s actually the norm for more than half of the U.S. workforce to work from home, thanks to the pandemic. That shift has changed not just how employees view working from home and commute responsibilities, but also how you can offer perks and employee retention. After all, if strategies like free lunch, daycare, and travel budgets are no longer meaningful, what can you use to keep employees aware that you’re looking out for them and remain a great place to work.
It’s true that employees appreciate services, as well as extra cash, but how can you continue to offer that added value to employees who work in fully remote environments?
1) Prioritize Good Communication
Eventually, employee retention is about providing a pleasant place to work with good perks and good pay. Good communication is an incredibly important aspect of that. For example, did you know that the World Health Organization lists poor communication and processes as one of the largest detriments to employee mental health while on the job?
Implementing and maintaining good communication policies with core tools, avenues of communication, communication standards, and times in which colleagues are allowed to communicate with each other about work are important. That’s especially important in remote work situations, where some users might be in different time zones, might need stronger work-life separation, and might have real needs for time to themselves.
2) Host Team Activities
It’s normal for modern teams to have the occasional pizza and board game night when working in the office. If you move online, those opportunities often fall-off. But, they don’t have to. Asking teams to engage in paid activities together – ranging from having pizza delivered to their house and playing online board games, to doing teamwork challenges and puzzles together can have a massive impact on team comradery and involvement with each other. That, in turn, improves relationships and quality of life at work.
3) Support flex work hours
The fact that people are working at home means they are more likely to have distractions and pressing or urgent problems to deal with. Whether that’s a baby who needs attention, a pet that wants to be walked, or a toilet backing up doesn’t matter. Offering flex work hours is one way to show that you understand life isn’t always predictable, you do have to pick your kids up from school, or you might prefer a slightly different schedule.
Here, many organizations are also switching focus from hours worked to productivity. If you know roughly what employees were producing in the office, you could hold them to those standards at home and not bother with strictly tracking hours. Of course, that’s a large step for many organizations, so you’re probably better off sticking to flex hours.
4) Use 360 feedback and accept it as well
Tools like 360 feedback allow employees to offer regular and rounded feedback to each other and to their management. Taking and accepting 360 feedback allows employees to contribute feedback about management, processes, communication, and how they are treated at work. It also allows them to highlight when colleagues are doing well or contributing very well. Inserting regular touchpoints around feedback as a constructive process can help employees to feel valued. It can also help you to offer coaching and training to those who might not be doing so well, especially with their current work structure.
5) Be professional and timely about communication and payment
Business communication, payment, and bonuses should always be timely, delivered in local currency, and as professional as possible. Many of us are intensely aware we’re going through periods of uncertainty. Maintaining certainty with a timely and professional approach is important.
6) Consider office equipment for home use
One of the largest shifts for many work-from-home employees is that they had to adjust to having to buy everything themselves. Offering office equipment, ranging from printers to laptops, to desks, can save your employee considerable costs. In addition, sourcing printers from a supplier ensures that all models are the same, that everyone works with the same software, and that your IT teams can still work to keep them secure. The same goes for laptops and computers – because supplying them ensures everyone stays on the same systems, that you can offer IT assistance, and that you can continue offering value to those employees with hardware.
7) Offer talent and career development
Most employees have some goals of moving up, of improving, of continuing to develop skills, and of improving how they offer value. Offering training and career development to work-from-home employees is just as important as to in-office employees. While it’s slightly more difficult to provide hands on coaching, video calling and screen sharing make that possible for nearly any job.
Explorance commissioned a survey of employees to find out why they were leaving jobs, and moving to a higher paying job, Covid burnout, and lack of career development opportunities were in the top 3. This means that actively offering employees resources to learn and develop their careers – which eventually saves your organization money by allowing you to hire for intermediate and senior positions internally – improves employee retention.
8) Allow employees to suggest benefits
Most people know what they want. And that’s true when it comes to benefits as well. Having discussions with employees about what kinds of perks they want and why can help you to make better decisions around what those perks should be. And, allowing employees to have some influence in that can make them feel listened to, respected, and valued.
9) Offer home service perks
Many organizations offer perks like gym and lunch for in-office employees but few offer those for at-home employees. Simply offering the same perks of catered or delivered lunches, gym services, or even cleaning services to employees at home can go a long way to replacing those lost perks. And, while relatively inexpensive compared to a travel budget, those perks can save your employees significant time and hassle.
10) Invest in team building
Using good team-building frameworks can help to ensure you’re putting people with complementary communication styles together. That’s especially important in online environments, where you have to worry about not just things like extroversion or forcefulness, but also preferences for communication medium like chat vs video calling. Using personality assessments can help you to pair people who communicate and work well together – which will improve quality of life while working.
11) Invest in good onboarding and ongoing coaching
Onboarding is your first real opportunity to touch base with your employees. That’s even more important online, where those employees will never get the truly hands-on experience. Investing in ensuring they have someone to offer coaching, assistance with systems, and everything they need to integrate into process and systems is important for how they experience the company. Offering ongoing coaching to the same effect, whether for learning new systems, adapting to new technology, or keeping up when they might be falling behind performance targets ensures they continue to have that good experience.
Eventually, employee retention is about offering quality of life, good pay, and good opportunities for personal and career development. Eventually, that means focusing on building strong teams and ensuring good communication, on offering perks and benefits, implementing career development, and on delivering a personal and human experience.