Between email, live chat, video, online, and document sharing via the cloud, working from home is a reality for a majority of employees. In fact, the 2017 “State of Remote Work” report found 52 percent of employees work remotely at least once per week. For employees, working remotely helps them maintain a healthy work-life balance. It also contributes to reduced expenses and the tax benefits of a home office. There’s also the need to plan for remote worker retention to not lose this talent.
Employers could save as much as $11,000 per year in reduced office space, according to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com. Furthermore, because remote employees tend to be more productive and satisfied, there’s lower employee turnover — 25 percent less, to be exact. In other words, it’s a win-win for both parties.
However, there are also some hurdles to overcome. These hurdles include adjusting to time zones, effectively collaborating on projects and communicating with team members. Aother area that’s often overlooked is providing the benefits remote workers demand. When you’re not providing these benefits, you can be certain that higher retention rate won’t apply to your organization.
1. The materials, equipment, and information to succeed
“Few things are more frustrating than wanting to make a difference at work and being held back by inadequate resources,” write Adam Hickman and Tonya Fredstrom for Gallup. “You must ensure that remote employees have the materials, equipment and information they need to do their job right.”
For example, your remote workers should know how to navigate your network to quickly locate key information. They should have materials like company guidelines for compliance and procedures. Other important data includes contact information of all team members. Then, there’s the right software and hardware to do their jobs.
At my company, we collaborate and communicate using tools like Google Docs, time-tracking applications, and Skype to name a few.
2. A home office setup assistant
If you have someone who’s new to remote work, it’s going to be expensive and intimating for him to properly set up his home office. As such, you may want to pay for essential home office equipment like a desk, chair, printer, cloud storage or ergonomic accessories. You don’t necessarily have to purchase all of these items for your remote employees, but anything can be a help for those starting out.
If you have existing remote workers, you could upgrade their cloud storage space or purchase a home office upgrade, like a new printer or standing desk. Other options would be to provide company-owned technology or furniture, a money stipend or allowance or a co-working space. Don’t forget to create guides or provide tech support for employees when they’re setting up their home office.
3. Flexible schedules
This should be a given. After all, this is one of the main reasons why your remote employees prefer to work remotely — it allows them to work when they’re most productive. Additionally, it allows them to achieve a healthy work-life balance. For example, if an employee has children, he may opt to work from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. so he can spend afternoons with his family.
Research has actually found that workers with flexible work arrangements report greater job satisfaction, are more committed to their employers and have less turnover, even after major life events like the birth of a child.
4. A generous vacation policy
Companies like GitHub and Elite SEM are ditching the traditional two-week vacation allotment. Instead, they’re embracing unlimited or open vacation policies.
The reason? Remote employees tend to work more hours than their in-office counterparts because they’ve eliminated commuting and distractions. Surprisingly, unlimited benefits can reduce costs and attract top talent, and employees are reported to rarely abuse this policy.
5. Professional development
Just like in-office employees, professional development is a benefit your remote team cherishes. This could include paying for them to attend webinars, online courses, workshops or conferences.
You can also use professional development to build and strengthen the relationships among your team members. For instance, you could have a monthly lunch-and-learn event, have team members attend regional conferences together or have everyone attend virtual meetings or classes together.
6. Employee appreciation and team building
Everyone wants to be appreciated, whether it’s through a handwritten thank-you note, a shout-out in the monthly newsletter, a bonus or a gift card to a favorite restaurant.
Another way to show your appreciation is to host team-building events like annual meetups or retreats. These provide face-to-face time while building a company culture in which everyone feels like part of the team.
7. A chance to give back
Want to attract and retain top talent? Make sure you’re running a socially responsible company. According to Forbes, surveys have found that employees want to work at “a job where I can make an impact.”
You can encourage this by allowing your employees to select a charity of their choice and donating to those organizations. You could also encourage your remote teammates to volunteer in their local communities by giving them paid time time off to do so.
8. Matching 401(k) contributions
This is self-explanatory for in-office employees, but your remote workers are demanding this as well. You can give your team members a head start on their retirement by matching their 401(k) contributions, such as 3 percent of their salary. Encouraging your remote team members to contribute and plan for retirement shows that you have their future in mind.
Remote Worker Retention
While these eight benefits are key to remote worker retention, you should tailor your company benefits specifically to your employees’ needs. This includes flextime, freebies, feedback, and simply feeling like a member of a family.