Crafting the Perfect Employee Retention Strategy for a Distributed Workforce

These unprecedented times brought numerous doubts to the modern workplace, but one thing is sure: employees started valuing their well-being over everything else, questioning job satisfaction, rethinking career aspirations, and prioritizing healthy work-life balance. As the pandemic has shifted priorities for the global workforce, many left their jobs during the post-Covid era in search of new opportunities.

Business Insider reports that over 60% of U.S. workers are considering looking for a new job in 2023, meaning that we are not quite done with the Great Resignation trend.

According to Forbes, the top five reasons why employees quit their jobs include toxic company culture, low salaries, poor management, the absence of a healthy work-life balance, and the lack of remote work options.

Understanding why employees leave their jobs is important in addressing issues and reverting high turnover rates. Here we’re exploring the top employee retention strategies that can help you reduce turnover and attract new, talented employees.

Why is employee retention important?

Employee retention is crucial in maintaining the stability of a company and reinforcing a more favorable employee experience.

Here are the main reasons why employee retention is important for a company.

  • It reduces costs: Employee turnover can be costly. When employees leave, companies lose the investment they made in that employee. Additionally, they need to invest more money to recruit, hire, and train a new employee. Gallup research showed that U.S. businesses lose at least $1 trillion due to voluntary turnover. By retaining employees, companies can save a lot of money in the long run.
  • It keeps the productivity levels stable: When employees leave, it takes time to replace them and get new employees up to speed. During this time, productivity may drop. By retaining employees, companies can maintain a consistent level of productivity.
  • It ensures that know-how will remain within the company: Experienced employees provide a valuable source of knowledge and skills to a company. When employees leave, the intellectual capital of the company might get jeopardized. Retaining your best employees prevents the loss of knowledge and skills as important intangible assets of a company.
  • It boosts employee morale: When employees feel like they are part of a stable and supportive work environment, they are more likely to be satisfied and engaged in their work. This can lead to higher morale, which in turn can result in better job performance and higher employee retention rates.
  • It improves company reputation: A company that has a reputation for high employee turnover may have difficulty attracting top talent. By retaining employees, companies can establish a positive reputation as a good place to work.

Creating effective employee retention strategies for distributed teams

The drivers of remote employee retention can be different from those of traditional office-based employees.

That’s why writing effective employee retention strategies for distributed teams requires careful consideration of the unique challenges and opportunities that remote work presents. This helps you identify and tackle the main pain points that remote work imposes on your employees, but also discover the main drivers of employee retention.

You can do this by conducting online surveys or one-on-one meetings to get their feedback on what they need to feel supported, motivated, and engaged in their work.

In order to prevent employee turnover writing a good strategy is not enough. You have to show commitment to creating a positive work environment in practice, prioritize and implement practices that ensure work-life balance, invest in employee engagement, and provide opportunities for growth and development.

Read on to discover how these retention strategies can help you retain the best talent.

Start with the onboarding process

A successful onboarding process can help new hires feel welcomed, valued, and supported, which can contribute to their overall job satisfaction and commitment to their role and the organization. Glassdoor research showed that companies with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by an astonishing 82%.

To effectively onboard remote employees and retain them for a long time, here are some tips that can help you run this process smoothly.

  • Organize a meet-and-greet event to introduce new remote employees to their team members and other co-workers and wish them a warm welcome.
  • Assign a mentor or buddy to your new employee. This person can provide guidance and support as your new employee gets up to speed in the first weeks of a new job and becomes more comfortable in their role.
  • Ensure that your new remote employee has all the equipment and software they need to perform their job effectively. This includes providing a laptop or desktop computer, headset, and any necessary software. Tackle any technical issues before the remote employee kicks off.
  • Schedule an orientation session with the human resources manager for your new employee to introduce them to the company, its culture, workplace policies, and administrative details. This session should cover the company's mission and vision, and core values, but also the benefits and recognition programs that the company offers.
  • Make sure that your new remote employees receive a clear and comprehensive onboarding plan that outlines their responsibilities, goals, and expectations. You should present them with a clear communication plan, including the channels you will use to communicate, the frequency of communication, and the expectations around response time.
  • Provide your new employee with access to all relevant resources, such as company policies, procedures, and other documents that they may need to perform their job effectively.

Provide your employees with flexibility

Flexibility is a crucial component of any successful remote work arrangement.

By offering employees the flexibility they need to balance personal and professional lives, companies can increase employee satisfaction, productivity, and employee engagement, leading to higher retention rates and a more successful remote workforce.

To ensure that your remote employees are provided with the best work policies to take advantage of their most productive hours make sure you offer these job perks.

  • Consider allowing employees to choose their own work hours, as long as they are able to complete their work on time and are available for important meetings or calls. Flexible schedules allow employees to work when they are most productive or when they have other commitments or responsibilities outside of work.
  • Give workers the ability to work part-time, full-time, or even on a project basis. This allows them to balance work with personal commitments and can help reduce burnout which directly leads to employee turnover as 95% of human resources managers claim.
  • Allow remote employees to use their work-from-home allowance not only for home office furniture, hardware, and software but also gadgets and equipment that can make them feel comfortable and relaxed. This can include home office decor, exercise equipment for a home workout, stress-relieving gadgets, music, and podcast subscriptions, and even home entertainment equipment.
  • Provide employees with access to flexible workspaces. Not everyone has ideal conditions to work from home every day, so a co-working space pass can be a game changer for your team’s productivity. Flexible office spaces also allow workers who reside in the same location to meet up and collaborate in person.

Show employee appreciation through trust, autonomy, and ownership

Remote work requires a high level of accountability. As employers no longer share physical office space with their team members, they must trust that their remote employees are going to complete their work to a high standard and meet deadlines.

Building a culture of trust is also important to the success of companies as it can help to create a sense of belonging. In a remote work environment, the sense of trust is even more important as employees may feel disconnected from their colleagues and company culture.

Autonomy allows employees to take ownership of their learning and development. Linkedin reports that showing trust and providing autonomy to employees impacts their motivation to explore new ideas, experiment with different approaches, and develop new skills, leading to professional growth and personal satisfaction. It also gives employees the chance to work on projects they find meaningful and fulfilling.

Here are some ideas to help you show employee appreciation through trust, autonomy, and ownership.

  • Assign individual KPIs to team members to set specific, measurable goals or targets for each person on the team to achieve. When individuals are held accountable for meeting specific targets, it can motivate them to perform better and strive to achieve more.
  • Don’t use time trackers and productivity tools to monitor and micromanage remote employees' work and progress. It can be a signal of a lack of trust, undermining autonomy, discouraging ownership, and reducing employee morale.
  • Avoid constant checking in as it can be intrusive and can signal a lack of trust. It's important to strike a balance between regular communication and giving employees the space they need to work independently.
  • Give your remote employees the freedom to choose their tasks and projects whenever possible. They’ll be more likely to be engaged and satisfied with their work, which can lead to reduced stress levels since the pressure to conform to someone else's way of doing things is eliminated.

Promote work-life balance to ensure employee wellness

Work-life balance refers to the equilibrium between the time and energy spent on one's work and personal life. It is the ability to prioritize between one's personal and professional responsibilities to achieve a fulfilling and satisfying lifestyle.

A good work-life balance ensures that individuals have enough time and energy to engage in personal pursuits, such as hobbies, social activities, and time with family and friends, while also meeting their work responsibilities. It is important for employees to achieve work-life balance to reduce stress, increase overall well-being, and prevent burnout.

Employee wellness is the overall well-being of employees in the workplace, including physical, mental, and emotional health. It is becoming increasingly important as employers recognize the value of investing in their employees' health and well-being. Employee wellness encompasses programs and initiatives designed to improve the health and productivity of employees while reducing healthcare costs and absenteeism and improving overall business outcomes for employers.

Here are some initiatives you can use to promote work-life balance at the workplace and ensure employee wellness.

  • Provide access to employee assistance programs that can help employees manage personal and work-related stressors. These programs typically offer confidential counseling, support, and resources for a range of personal and work-related issues.
  • Offer resources for mental health such as counseling or access to mental health professionals as it can help employees manage stress and other mental health issues. You can also provide resources such as meditation and mindfulness classes to help employees manage stress and improve focus.
  • Have a good parental leave policy in place that should provide job protection, provide a meaningful amount of time off for new parents, ensure flexibility in terms of how and when the leave can be taken, and also resources and support for new parents such as parenting classes.
  • Offer wellness initiatives such as good healthcare benefits, gym memberships, and yoga classes.
  • Provide employees with adequate paid time off, including vacation time, personal days, mental health days off, and sick leave.
  • Encourage employees to take regular breaks, such as a lunch break or short walk during the workday, as it can help them recharge and reduce stress.

Reward hard work with professional development opportunities

Companies invest in the professional development of employees by providing development opportunities intended to upskill and upgrade their knowledge and abilities related to their job responsibilities and career goals.

This strategy leads to a win-win situation for both employees and employers. When employees feel that their employer is invested in their professional growth, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to the company. As professional development can help employees learn new skills and knowledge to perform their tasks, you can be sure that it will lead to improved job performance and productivity.

Since investing in professional development can help retain current employees and make your company more attractive to top talent, who are looking for opportunities to grow and develop on their career path, here we discuss some of the ideas.

  • Offer training programs that can help remote employees develop new skills or deepen existing ones. This can include online courses, in-person workshops, or on-the-job training opportunities.
  • Sponsor participation in industry-related conferences or events that can help employees network and stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and best practices.
  • Provide coaching or mentorship opportunities that can help employees develop their leadership skills and receive personalized guidance for career development.
  • Provide cross-functional training opportunities to help employees develop a better understanding of different areas of the company and how they work together.
  • Offer tuition reimbursement for continuing education courses or degree programs that can help employees further their education and develop new skills.

When employees feel that they are growing professionally and making career advancements, they are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and less likely to look for other opportunities.

Ensure in-person connections and team-building

While working independently, remote employees may feel isolated from their colleagues and detached from company culture. In-person connections and teamwork can help them break out of their routines, feel more connected to their workplace culture, and generate new ideas by brainstorming and collaborating.

Here are a few ideas to encourage in-person connections and organize team-building activities.

  • Schedule regular team meetings where team members can come together to discuss progress, challenges, and ideas. This can be done in person or virtually, depending on the location of team members.
  • Encourage informal gatherings, such as lunches or coffee breaks, where team members can socialize and get to know each other on a more personal level.
  • Host offsite retreats or team-building events to provide a change of scenery and help team members disconnect from their day-to-day work and focus on building relationships.
  • Celebrate milestones and successes as a part of employee recognition initiatives, such as work anniversaries, significant business contributions, and project completions, to show appreciation for team members and build a sense of companionship.

Redesign employee experience

Redesigning employee experience is about creating a workplace environment that supports and empowers employees to thrive, be productive, and contribute to the success of the organization. The goal is to create a workplace environment that meets the needs and expectations of employees, fosters engagement and job satisfaction, and ultimately improves employee retention.

To redesign the employee experience and achieve employee retention, there are several steps that organizations can take.

  • Review your HR policies and procedures to ensure that they are up-to-date, fair, and in line with your company culture and values. It is important to make your HR policies equitable so that the same benefits apply to all remote employees and not be location-dependent.
  • Streamline remote work processes to make them more efficient and reduce the administrative burden on remote employees. Your processes should be simplified and made more user-friendly to reduce employee frustration and increase productivity.
  • Foster inclusion and diversity by promoting a culture of respect, acceptance, and appreciation for individual differences.

Invest in the best tools

Investing in the best tools can have a positive impact on the organization's productivity, employee satisfaction, engagement, innovation, and retention rates. It is a worthwhile investment that can benefit both the organization and its employees.

For example, using an HRIS with self-service options provides employees with autonomy so they can be more efficient at work. Providing employees with communication and team-building tools, or adequate job-specific tools that help them work better, makes them enjoy their tasks, and achieve better results.

  • Make a needs assessment to determine which tools and resources your remote employees need to work efficiently. These resources usually include communication and collaboration tools, project management software, and task management tools.
  • Consult your employees to get their input on the tools they prefer and what features would be most beneficial to them. This is particularly important when investing in AI and automation solutions, many of which are in early adoption phases, so you also have a chance to get ahead of your competitors if you identify the best tools to help you be more efficient.
  • Research the available options for each tool and compare features, functionality, and pricing to determine which ones will best meet your employees’ needs and the company budget.
  • Test the tools to ensure they meet your needs and are easy to use, integrate with your existing systems, and offer the features and functionality you need. Provide training and support to ensure your remote employees know how to use the tools effectively and can get help when they need it.

Boost employee retention with Gable

Want to provide your distributed team with workspaces where they can collaborate in person? Promote your company values and maintain company culture across different countries and continents. Make sure your physical workspaces are maximized and play an active role in employee productivity and retention strategies.

Gable can help bring your team together no matter where they are while keeping workspace costs under control. Learn more about the insights you can gain through our user-friendly platform and locations where you can explore flexible workspaces for your team.

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Andrea Rajic