Remote work is a lot harder than it sounds, which took many workers by surprise when lockdowns suddenly made working from home the safest way for many companies to operate. As weeks and months have passed, there has been a growing tendency for these newly-remote workers to (putting it mildly) explore their other employment options… something that doesn’t bode well for your operations.
Let’s explore this phenomenon, and go over some tips to help you retain your remote team members more effectively.
Putting it simply: a lack of face-to-face interaction. Let’s dive into the phenomenon in a little more detail.
Consider how a day in the office might play out before so many were sent home. Your team members would work amongst each other, able to speak freely everywhere from their desk to the coffee machine about everything—from the day’s tasks to the latest bingeable content on a given streaming platform.
This situation lends itself nicely to an enriching and supportive environment for your team, something that itself brings considerable benefits. Obviously, there are the collaborative activities that this kind of workplace encourages, but just as crucially, it gives management a much-improved capability to evaluate how engaged their employees are. Doing so gives an organization the opportunity to identify and resolve complications before they lead to greater issues.
For instance, an employee leaving the company in response to these challenges.
Once your team works remotely, however, this process becomes significantly more challenging, simply because it is no longer convenient.
Let’s break down the logistics for a moment. As opposed to the casual conversations that are so easy to carry out in person, these monitoring dialogues now have to be scheduled for, taking up the company’s valuable time. They are also (more likely than not) going to be based in a group setting, rather than a one-on-one conversation. Therefore, the time you spend will be split amongst the group instead of focused on each member, and you also need to discount the time you spend contributing to the conversation.
This all adds up pretty quickly, taking away from the time you have to collect input from each employee. Furthermore, there’s a good chance that some of your team members will not be comfortable sharing certain issues in a group setting.
So, while remote work can help your operations, it can also lead to your team’s professional relationships degrading over time—not a good thing for your organization’s success.
Let’s go over a few tips to help you prevent your team members from having their spirits whittled away by the realities that remote work imposes.
Feedback is often one of the most crucial—but unappreciated—gifts that your team members can receive from you, so if your team feels like their efforts aren’t being noticed and acknowledged they can swiftly see themselves as someone looking in from the outside.
You need to actively work against this trend by prioritizing your own efforts to offer positive feedback to your remote workers. Whether you’re reviewing a project that they’ve completed or focusing on their own future goals as a team member, dedicate some time to acknowledging their efforts… and even asking them for feedback on your own performance as a manager.
Company culture is important for any business to develop for many reasons, although for our purposes we’ll be focusing on how it boosts your employee retention. A happy employee is an engaged employee, who in turn is an employee that will stick around and become a driving force toward the business’ success. Don’t be afraid to get a little more personal in your professional relationships, and hopefully, it will help reduce the likelihood of your team members leaving you behind.
While we’ve largely discussed interpersonal relationships here, it is equally important that you are able to treat these relationships in a professional manner. Chances are, someone leaving your employ—whether that’s during remote work or in-house operations—is a much more complicated situation than it will appear on the surface. It may have nothing to do with you, your business, or the management thereof.
Rather than taking it to heart, communicate with your outgoing employees to identify what it was that precipitated their leaving. If it was something that can be fixed on your end, fix it, and if it was something that didn’t involve you or something at your company, accept the reality of the situation.
While we are huge advocates of the remote work and associated productivity that today’s technology enables, it is important that we acknowledge all aspects of it… including any complications it can bring about. What are some of your experiences with dealing with outbound employees? What strategies have worked well for you? Share them in the comments (respecting everyone’s privacy in the process, of course).