How to Engage and Retain Remote Teams

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Recruiting employees is a costly process, so it is better to retain existing team members and keep workers satisfied in their current roles, rather than giving them any reason to move on to greener pastures.

Of course, at a time when remote work is becoming a top business trend, it can be trickier for businesses to maintain morale amongst employees. Which could lead to a higher turnover rate and increased expenses as a result.

With the current circumstances in mind, here are a few strategies to put in place if you want to actively improve employee retention while they are working from home.

Provide training that benefits their career progression

For many people, job satisfaction is derived not only from the work they are doing today but also from the knowledge that they are building towards bigger and better things.

As such, offering company training programs for employees so that they can learn new skills and enhance their career prospects within the organization is an impactful tactic.

Clearly, the advantages for the individual afforded by training in things like team communication, negotiation, and leadership are going to keep workers satisfied. However, they can also be seen as an investment in the business as a whole. Better trained team members will be more productive and are an asset to any organization. 

Each team member will have their own goals, ambitions, and strengths to work with. It’s important to give everyone the same opportunities to codify these aims, plot out how they can be achieved, and ensure that you have a way of integrating them with their existing work schedule, without disrupting it.

Tuition reimbursement for graduate education is another great option, especially for companies who are looking to grow and develop their executive teams. The benefits of an MBA or an EMBA program are invaluable for both the employee and the business and one of the best benefits a company can offer to help improve retention and train executives.

Allow increased flexibility

In the era of remote working, employees are already enjoying the prospect of not having to put up with a long daily commute before they start their workday. However, there is still a lot of value to striking an appealing balance between professional responsibilities and personal time. This is why flexible working hours are a desirable perk.

The process of managing flexible schedules will vary according to how employees are contracted to your company. Salaried members of staff will need to have their progress measured through regular check-ins with managers to verify that projects are moving forwards as expected. Freelancers and those on hourly rates will need to have their time tracked more closely. Thankfully, clocking on and off is entirely possible to monitor even if flexible working is on the cards.

For those with busy domestic schedules, or those who would rather work different hours — being able to set their own schedule and mold their job around their home life will be a huge plus. Just keep in mind that the extent to which flexible working hours are appropriate for your business will depend on the industry you occupy, as well as the roles that teams play within it. 

Cover their remote working costs

When employees are working in an office environment, they will expect that the business to bear the brunt of expenses for everything from equipment and connectivity to power and heating. The switch to working from home means that workers may be saddled with these expenses themselves. This may result in rising utility expenses as well as the prospect of having to pay for their own hardware.

Team members will be far more content and committed to a company that provides them additional support and eliminates the price of perfecting their home working setup.

From ensuring they have a suitable laptop or desktop to upping their pay to cover heat, light, and electricity they use during working hours — assisting with these costs will enhance happiness across the board.

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Invite feedback & act on it

You do not need to fumble blindly in your attempts to improve employee retention rates when they are stuck at home; the simple step of asking team members what they think of the current setup and if they have any problems or input to offer to ameliorate it will go a long way to helping you shape your retention strategies.

More importantly, you need to not only encourage employees to speak up if they have an issue but also demonstrate that you actually care about them by taking remedial steps in the wake of any comment that is made.

Pinpoint those who are struggling most

Some people will thrive in a home working scenario. Others will have a tougher time adapting to the new status quo. This makes it necessary to pay attention to each team member and identify anyone who is at a higher risk of leaving because they are struggling with their new work environment.

The aforementioned need to invite feedback comes into play here again. You can be proactive in singling out struggling employees without putting them under pressure by running a weekly questionnaire to gauge satisfaction levels and highlight issues. You could also set up an anonymized inbox where more in-depth feedback can be sent.

In addition, you can usually look out for the telltale signs of a member of your staff being less engaged with their work during virtual meetings and video calls. And of course, once you can see who is reticent to contribute or uncomfortable with the state of play, you can attempt to improve their satisfaction. 

Whether you offer them the training they need to adapt more fully to the remote working lifestyle, or provide direct support through regular one-on-one catch-ups — the fact that you have noticed their conundrum at all will be appreciated.

Ensure wages are competitive

While it may not be practical to offer every single employee a pay rise, it is certainly essential to check up on what rival businesses are providing in terms of salary for equivalent remote roles. This will let you compare your own compensation packages and calculate their competitiveness. Allowing you to adjust them if necessary to stay ahead of the game.

The fact of the matter is that job satisfaction and salary do correlate, but only in a comparative sense. If workers know that they could make significantly more by jumping ship and getting on board with a rival firm, the chances of them actually doing this are higher. This is even more relevant today. As remote working means that little about an employee’s life would actually change if they moved companies, compared with a time when a different commute or outright relocation might be on the cards.

Give credit where it’s due

Finally, when employees feel that their efforts are being recognized by managers and colleagues alike, they will be more inclined to stay put and invest more time and energy into a business than if they were plugging away without acknowledgment.

Publicly showing that you appreciate the milestones that individuals and teams have passed in the line of duty is a great tactic. It can often go just as far as a pay rise or the provision of additional perks in terms of improving retention rates. Aim to experiment with all of these strategies to drive down turnover rates, even when working from home is unavoidable.

Final thoughts

It is worth noting that although current disruption to the workplace and the rise in remote working may seem like a permanent shift in business culture, this state of affairs may not be permanent. As such it is best to be prepared for the eventual return to the office

For example, allowing team members to gradually go back to in-person working at a brick and mortar location but with part of the week still spent working remotely. This will help ease them in and resolve any potential retention issues before they even begin.

Ultimately it makes sense to deploy a combination of the tips provided above to build a business that is able to deliver job satisfaction to all employees. By keeping them engaged and loyal for the long term, you can make your organization as effective as possible both remotely and in-person.

Richard Fendler
Richard Fendler
Goal-oriented manager with proven leadership abilities. Expert in increasing productivity and growth marketing through content. Committed to streamlining procedures while optimizing employee talent. Most importantly, dog lover.
Posted in Management