Employee Retention: 9 Strategies for Retaining Top Remote Talent

employee retention

A recent survey revealed that 87% of employers worry about retaining top talent. If you’re a business owner concerned about employee retention, take note of these universal strategies to help you thrive in the remote work space.

Recently, some employers have rescinded long-standing remote work policies, opting to call their work-at-home staff back to the office. With studies showing that nearly every professional would take a 10% pay cut in exchange for a flexible work option, it seems counter intuitive to go against the tide of the digital revolution. However, the reason some remote teams thrive, and others have less than ideal outcomes, is simple: remote work culture is difficult to cultivate.

9 Strategies for Improving Remote Employee Retention

employee retention

To learn how you can create and retain an all-star remote team, learn from those who have mastered the craft of remote leadership. Companies like BELAY, Hubstaff, and Crossover are completely remote. BELAY’s stellar employee retention rate is a shining example of the possibilities companies can achieve by utilizing a telecommuting workforce.

Understand and implement some or all of these employee retention strategies to start seeing your own virtual workers become your most high-performing assets.

1. Adopting Remote Work Culture

Building an environment where location has less weight on the overall success of the company requires foresight, planning and dynamic leadership, but it is possible and well worth the adjustment in mindset. This adaptation of remote work strategy begins with the hiring process. Crossover is known for their skill based application process that works with hiring managers to build a tailored project or skill test that is designed with the specific job and company culture in mind.

If you want to attract and keep top talent, prospects should know from the first stage of the application process what kinds of projects and tasks will be expected and how to complete their assignments. Work with your managers, supervisors and current employees to find out what is unique about your business, what skills and ways of thinking help your team radiate success.

Additionally, be very clear about your company’s style of communication. If you only use Slack, provide sample tasks that articulate the use of your communication tools. If employees are expected to complete check-ins at particular times during the day or week, have your sample assignments due at these intervals. It may feel trivial, but this strategy can help to create high expectations and weed out prospects who don’t bother to follow your instructions. On the other hand, prospects also have the opportunity to determine if your work style is compatible with their own needs.

Related: Remote Collaboration: Methods for Effective Virtual Communication

2. Training as Culture Building

When you design your remote business, training should be a key pillar in the ongoing strategy to improve employee retention and keep employees connected and loyal to your mission. Ongoing job training is a top benefit for employees, one that will help you hire and retain high performers. Why? Achievers love to grow and expand their skill sets. They are constantly learning, adapting and hungry for new tools to keep their edge in the industry.

Training is a substantial investment of time, money, and resources. This is why the average onboarding cost per employee is upwards of $11,000. However, if you want to go beyond onboarding and into a culture of innovation, we offer this solution: reward learning.

One popular example of a company that prioritizes learning is Adobe. Their internal process of rewarding employees for trying something new even when it fails is now legend. Adobe is committed to remaining king of their industry, and to do so they take enormous risk. If you want to have a thriving remote culture, it will take risk as well as long term investment in training and development.

3. Mentorship Curates Strong Communities

Mentorship is a less discussed, yet crucial, aspect of continuous learning. Particularly for remote workers, it is vital to engage them in a dialogue of growth. Learning from your mistakes doesn’t happen without processing what went wrong. Use your current star talent to support and train your new team members.

Reward employees that take the lead in mentorship, and provide resource to equip worker with the tools to mentor effectively. Mentorship programs are an excellent way to build a community with pride in collective accomplishment. A team that is eager to help everyone succeed is a team invested in seeing long term growth go from vision to reality.

4. Incentivizing Progress

Healthy competition isn’t a bad thing. Having clear performance markers, recognizing outstanding work on a regular basis, and providing incentives for exceptional project completion creates an environment of constant growth. Think in high definition by understanding more deeply what makes your employees feel valued.

While sending out an email blast with a list of the quarter’s highest performing employees may incentivize some, it may make others feel alienated. Maybe your employees value access to gift cards, software upgrades, or memberships. Do your research to better gauge what incentives will fire up your remote team.

5. Everyone Needs Feedback

Support your team in achieving their goals by providing the needed feedback when things go wrong, when things go perfectly, and when things go better than the last try. When feedback becomes a regular part of your process, you’ll start to witness more of the positive outcomes you desire.

Think intentionally about how feedback is delivered in your remote team. You don’t have the face to face interaction to buffer inconsistent language. Instead of telling your employees what they can do better, engage them in a discussion of their processes, help them to find their own missteps and offer strategies and tools to help them get it right the next time.

When giving feedback to employees who have aced an assignment, get their feedback on the steps they took, let them know that you value what they can contribute to the team by asking for opinions on how they think their success could be replicated.

employee satisfaction

6. Structuring for Employee Satisfaction

Gone are the days of the HR department; instead, companies are becoming much more intentional about employee experience. This means hiring people to oversee operations with a particular focus on how employees manage co-worker relationships, view their work environment (even their virtual work environment), and how employees rate satisfaction with leadership. It is important to note that the success of these vital roles depends on the willingness of leaders to take in and apply the feedback provided by your Director of Employee Satisfaction.

7. Upward Mobility

At some of the most recognizable tech companies such as Apple and Uber, current tenure is a short two years at most. With such a short lifespan for positions, employers have to assess what it will take to get employees to stay on for the long term. One of the most important factors for today’s top talent is mobility.

Offering opportunities for growth that come with a title change in a relatively short time period boosts employee retention exponentially. Current workers are not willing to stick around for five years waiting for the chance for promotion. Making room for high performers to climb vertically or horizontally in your virtual company will keep workers dedicated and motivated to contribute to the company for years to come. Giving hiring priority for new positions to current employees is a simple and effective way to keep productivity and employee retention high.

8. Creative Compensation

In remote work, employees still value relevant benefits. Instead of a snack bar, offer discounted gym memberships, access to internet hot spots, or home office equipment to show your virtual team you understand what matters most to them.

To retain top talent, high compensation is a must. To keep expectations high, the monetary reward for hard work must be a competitive match. This is especially important in the remote landscape, because the market is extremely aggressive. Employees with skills and experience have many options to choose from, unrestricted by geography or time zone, so act accordingly when addressing pay range.

9. Build a Network

Remote employees should never feel excluded or isolated. Giving time for employees to develop relationships while telecommuting may seem like an arduous task, but it is a vital aspect of a strong virtual company culture.

Set up get-to-know-you events on Zoom, or WebEx to help everyone stay fully engaged. Regular chats on community boards, Slack, or private social groups can establish rapport among remote team members and ensure everyone feels part of the bigger company picture.

Related: 17 Tips for Staying Connected While Working from Home

Having weekly or bi-weekly roundups for employees to share successes, developments, and invite conversations can reinvigorate a remote team. Team-building doesn’t have to include trust fall exercises (and probably shouldn’t). You can cultivate a strong team spirit by regularly helping everyone engage with your core mission.

Invite guest speakers to conduct webinars and look for inspiring talks or exercises that address employees as whole people—not cogs in the productivity wheel. Helping everyone feel that their well-being is important to the company improves employee retention and makes employees want to invest in being part of your business for the long haul.

Be A Remote Industry Leader

When given the tools and leadership to achieve, every remote team can succeed. Remote work options, technology, and methodology are expanding and will continue to do so well into the future. Improve remote employee retention today by following time- and science-tested strategies that will take your company from working well, to outpacing performance goals.

The road to a dynamic work culture in the remote space is still vastly uncharted. It will take intentional change and adaptation to find your own internal rhythm. Don’t give up; be willing to accept failures, learn from them, and keep pushing.

How have you improved remote employee retention within your own business? Share your answer when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you! 


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