How to Retain Your A-Player Remote Workers

How to Retain Your A-Player Remote Workers

You’ve hired an amazing team of remote workers, now the goal is to keep them as long-term employees. Remote employee retention is more difficult because of the nature of telecommuting. Here is our best advice for getting it right.

9 strategies for keeping the A-players in your remote team Click To Tweet

Companies like Hubstaff and Buffer are already completely remote. If you haven’t hired remote workers yet, consider these statistics:

  • According to The New York Times, the number of telecommuting workers increased almost 80% from 2005 to 2012.
  • According to Global Workplace Analytics, “80% to 90% of the US workforce said they would like to telework at least part time.”

This makes it likely that your next hire may end up working remotely, or at least requesting to. That means it’s even more important to understand how to manage remote employees and keep them happy so they continue working for you.

Here are 9 tips to retain your A-player remote employees.

1. Conduct stay interviews

Companies often perform exit interviews to learn why employees are leaving. While this may work to prevent future employees from leaving, it’s too late for that employee. Why not catch the problem before the employee wants to leave? The Wall Street Journal suggests conducting stay interviews to make sure employees are happy and don’t want to leave. Ask questions like:

  • Why did you want to work here?
  • What makes you stay?
  • What would make you leave the company?
  • What would you change or improve in the company?

Use the answers you receive to improve your remote employee retention strategies.

2. Make employee development a priority

Employee development goes hand-in-hand with remote employee retention because all employees have their own goals and aspirations. They may want to learn a new skill, get better at what they’re doing, or develop their careers. Learn about what they aspire to do and dig deep to find out how you can help. Ask questions like:

  • What are your goals?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What skills do you want to develop?
  • How can I help you get there?

You can help by providing some form of tuition reimbursement, a free book program, or mentorship.

3. Create a culture of open communication

Be open about your goals and issues when speaking to employees. This shows that you trust them and creates a collaborative environment, giving them the opportunity to offer ideas and ask questions.

An “open-door policy” doesn’t work when there’s no door to speak of, so encourage employees to speak candidly with you.

If you're part of a remote team, you should learn to communicate ridiculously well. Click To Tweet

While it’s important to create a culture of open communication, you and your employees should also learn to communicate ridiculously well through email, chat, and webcam. Having good communication structures in place helps remote employee retention because it gives them an avenue to connect with whoever they need to in order to be successful at their jobs.

4. Set clear expectations

Continuing with clear and open communication, make sure employees know exactly what you expect of them. If they don’t know what their job entails and what you want to see from them, they can’t perform up to your standards, and morale may decrease.

A survey done by BambooHR revealed that 23 percent of respondents said that receiving clear guidelines about responsibilities would have helped them stay at the company.

23% of respondents said that receiving clear guidelines about responsibilities would have helped them stay at the company Click To Tweet

The best time to set clear expectations is during your onboarding process.

How to Keep Your A-Team Intact: 9 Remote Employee Retention Strategies

5. Have a strong onboarding process in place

In response to a question about good onboarding processes, Edmond Lau, ex-Quora engineer, previously explained that a bad onboarding process could cost you a potentially great employee.

A strong onboarding process is key to keeping your A-player employees. The most important aspects are:

  • Create a 30-60-90 day plan. This makes your expectations clear on goals for the next three months so you’re both on the same page from the start.
  • Create a new hire checklist. This includes accounts they should make, documents to read, and people to meet and accomplishes two things: 1) It gives them things to do right away and 2) helps them integrate and learn the company information and processes.
  • Have at least three projects ready for them to take on. This will keep your new hires busy and give them an idea of what type of projects they’ll be executing.
Have at least three projects ready for a new hire to take on to keep him or her busy and engaged Click To Tweet

6. Offer rewards and incentives

Rewards and incentives are one way to demonstrate appreciation for employees who meet or exceed expectations. Depending on the size of your company you may offer stock options or bonuses, or something more simple, like a nice dinner on the company.

However, don’t restrict yourself to monetary incentives. Rewards should also speak to employees’ emotional needs. Examples include recognition in front of the company (or via a company-wide email), clothing with the company logo, handwritten notes, thoughtful gifts, and so on. These all contribute to the positive culture of the company, increase remote employee retention and build morale much more than a simple, short-term monetary bonus.

How to Keep Your A-Team Intact: 9 Remote Employee Retention Strategies

7. Be flexible with work hours

A series of interviews conducted by Helene Jones, director of human resources at a medical communications company, exposed the importance of a flexible schedule and personal time off.

The reasoning for this is simple: sometimes employees need to change up their schedule or take an impromptu day off to tend to things like doctor’s appointments or family matters. The autonomy of letting an employee determine their schedule is a crucial item to retaining your A-players.

Allowing employees to determine their schedule is crucial for retaining your A-players. Click To Tweet

While you may have high expectations for employee productivity, it’s unreasonable to expect your team members to work during specific times (set by you) at 100 percent efficiency. A-players know when they’re most productive and can admit when they aren’t being productive. By allowing employees to relax when they need to and create their own schedule, they can increase productivity and happiness.

8. Make time for small talk

While it may seem counterintuitive to waste time on small talk, these conversations allow you to get to know employees as complete people rather than just someone who works for you.

This humanization of the employer-employee relationship allows a unique form of employee loyalty to develop. It’s better to work with someone who treats you like a friend than someone who treats you as their workhorse.

9. Provide regular feedback

Phil Haack, engineering manager at GitHub, recalls a conversation with an employee who said, “I spent a lot of the six months hoping I didn’t get fired.” That’s not something you want to hear from an employee.

It’s tough for remote employees to get the constant feedback that comes with day-to-day in-person interactions in an office. This makes it even more important to provide regular informal feedback in addition to formal evaluations so your remote employees don’t feel disconnected.

Regular feedback outside of formal evaluations lets employees know where they stand, gets everyone on the same page, and removes the chances of a surprise during formal reviews.

The phrase that sums this all up is: make employee happiness a big deal.

Want to keep your A-player employees? Make employee happiness a big deal. Click To Tweet

If you think about your employees as humans with needs and treat them as such, you’ll be able to create a better working environment for your best employees and keep them on your team.

Remote working makes it easier than ever to keep your best-performing employees because they enjoy more freedom, flexibility, and autonomy. These remote employee retention strategies will help you demonstrate that you trust and care about your employees, empowering them to continue doing their best work.

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If you enjoy this post, you may want to check out this webinar on How to Manage a Remote Team in 5 Simple Steps or our Hubstaff University guides on how to manage your remote workforce.

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