by Roy Barker
July 21, 2021
Offering Remote Work Is Key to Attracting and Retaining Top Talent
Have you thought about offering remote work to your employees to attract and retain talent? To use an old saying, “Times they are a-changing!” This has never been truer for the topic of working remotely. The pandemic has shown some professional employees that they can do their job from a remote location outside of the traditional office.
The jury is still out on if companies have realized this. But, they will need to start getting used to the new normal. The stakes couldn’t be higher for employers. From attracting top talent, no matter where they are located, to providing an optimal work environment while retaining top talent.
Never A Better Time
The time for working remotely has never been better or more important. Because of available technology, it’s never been better to ensure workers from remote locations can be as productive as when they reported to brick and mortar locations. The importance of working from home has multiple implications from recruiting to improving work-life balance for employees.
Before we get too far along, I want to be clear that I believe companies should offer their current and future employees options. Employees should have the option to work remotely, work in an office, or a hybrid solution. This flexibility will go a long way to increasing your employee retention.
The technology today to support remote workers has never been more plentiful and cost-efficient. To name a few: cell phones and data plans, powerful laptops, Teams, Zoom, Slack, and many others designed to help employees and companies collaborate from a distance.
The best available talent doesn’t always live in our backyard. Working remotely helps the Human Resources recruiters cast a wider net when looking for talent. As talent pools for most positions shrink, having remote working options add more flexibility to reach out to other talent-rich areas with recruiting efforts.
One of the new buzz words is work-life balance. Work-life balance can be a high priority when recruiting new employees and retaining current top talent. The advantages that working remotely adds to work-life balance are a tremendous benefit and should be touted as such.
Let start with no commute. The average commute in the United States in 2019 according to the U.S. Census Bureau was 27.6 minutes one-way. This equates to approximately one hour a day or seven hours a week in time the employee can recapture. I am personally aware of employees who commute one to one and one-half hour each way.
A flexible schedule is another great benefit. If we hire the right person, we should be able to trust they will complete the work we ask them to complete. Deadline and meetings withstanding, does it really matter if an employee completes their work at 10 am or 8 pm? A 2019 survey by FlexJobs reflects that 75 percent of people seek flexible work schedules to achieve work-life balance.
This allows needed flexibility for those employees with children and the growing number of employees who care for aging parents. Working from home can lessen the stigma some employees deal with concerning their level of dedication from their managers and co-workers.
In the same 2019 FlexJob survey of 7,300 employees, 16 percent responded they were currently searching for a different job that offered more flexibility. That same survey reflected that 52 percent had tried to negotiate more flexible working arrangements with their employees.
Besides the obvious benefit of retaining talented employees, I have also read recent reports about employees who are willing to work for anywhere from 8-10 percent lower salaries to garner a flexible schedule; not to mention less office space required among other savings. These are all great business outcomes.
Working remotely can also lead to recruiting top talent, developing talent, and retaining top talent who may not be interested in work a full schedule. Some jobs can easily be designed for job sharing. This generally allows for two or more employees to share a job function.
At its simplest, we can take two people who want to work 20 hours each and combine their efforts to fill one position. This can help those going back to school, pre- or post-maternity leave, and those easing into retirement.
This may not be an option for those required to report to an office with a longer commute. If you are working four hours a day and have to commute for over an hour, it may simply not be worth the effort. Allowing employees to work remotely opens up a lot of opportunities.
Attracting Top Talent
As we come out of COVID there is a real labor shortage in most industries. As employers, we are going to need to find creative ways to both attract and retain top talent. Remote work is low-hanging fruit that a lot of employers may want to proffer which accomplishes both.
This shouldn’t be made into a win-lose situation. By imploring a little creativity, employers can develop a win-win situation for both themselves and their prospective and current employees. It’s not just a luxury in 2021 and beyond, it will be a necessity.
Working through the COVID lockdown, some employees are not willing to give up remote work and report back to an office. There is a lot of talk of an impending “mass exodus” for those employers requiring a return to the office.
Be flexible, employees have different personalities, different wants, and different needs. If possible, offer a range of options like returning to the office, fully remote, and hybrid options with judgment on an employee’s commitment to the company.
I am certain there will be winners and losers in attracting and retaining talent in the near future. Think about what works for both you and your employees and be on the winning side of that equation. Maybe consider offering remote work to employees. Be an employer of choice, not an employer of last resort.
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