Are you eagerly awaiting the return of the pre-pandemic world of work? We hate to break it to you, but it’s not coming. With the Great Reshuffle, quiet quitting, and economic uncertainty, work norms are continuing to shift, and businesses need to be more canny than ever when it comes to retaining top talent.
With turnover costing businesses as much as three or four times an employee’s annual salary and an employee engagement rate of just 21% globally, businesses need to take steps to engage and retain their talent. Otherwise, they could face major drops in productivity, serious blows to their bottom line, and immeasurable losses in institutional knowledge.
As the battle for talent turns towards retaining your own talent, a common stumbling block is whether retention strategies for remote teams should differ from in-person teams. Here, we’ll highlight the key areas to focus on for retaining international remote talent.
How retention differs between remote and in-person teams
Broadly speaking, remote and in-person teams want many of the same things. Businesses won’t struggle to provide these things for their teams equitably, regardless of whether they’re in-person or remote. These tend to be basic retention efforts like:
- Competitive compensation packages
- Recognition and feedback
- A healthy work-life balance
- Effective communication
However, some in-person retention efforts simply don’t translate to remote work. Likewise, remote workers face unique challenges in their professional lives that their in-person counterparts don’t experience. Your retention efforts should acknowledge that and be adjusted as needed. Let’s take a closer look at some of the areas that need further attention to effectively retain remote workers.
Workplace perks should look different for remote teams
The role of perks has grown in importance in recent years. Workers spend thousands of hours a year on the job, and improving that experience can go a long way for retention. However, perks like free coffee, lunches, and standing desks naturally aren’t always applicable to remote workers. Despite that, remote workers face their own share of ‘workplace’ challenges. Investing in their experience can demonstrate that you value your team and go a long way for your retention efforts.
Remote workers need equal opportunities for career advancement and upskilling
Remote work has endured a lot of scrutiny. One point of contention, levied by figures from small business owners to Mark Zuckerburg himself, is that in-person workers outperform their remote colleagues.
While the methodology Zuckerberg used to define ‘better’ is predictably opaque, employees do crave career development and advancement opportunities. According to a survey from Paychex, 63% of workers said they’d be more likely to stay with their company if there were more career advancement and upskilling opportunities.
In the workplace, spontaneous connections often transfer new skills and knowledge to colleagues, allowing them to continually grow. But when those connections aren’t happening, it’s easy to see how some international remote workers can miss out on learning opportunities. Indeed, the same Paychex survey found that remote workers are less satisfied than their in-person peers when it comes to their opportunities to advance their careers.
Cultural alignment is vital for retaining remote workers long-term
A cultural alignment is important for any role, regardless of whether it’s in-person or remote. That said, in-person work has some features that naturally assimilate workers to the business’ culture and retain them. With remote work, culture takes deliberate action to build. Given that culture is what retains workers and keeps your teams engaged, it’s key that remote workers are selected not only for their technical skills, but also for the values that they share with your business.
Three key tips for increasing retention among remote international workers
So businesses need to alter their retention strategies to keep international remote workers engaged, but what does that actually look like?
1. Offer perks customized to your remote teams
First, ensure that you’re equipping your remote workers compliantly. Some countries require businesses to compensate their workers for their remote work expenses like WiFi. Additionally, make sure your teams’ equipment meets the necessary health and safety standards, like height-adjustable seats, tiltable keyboards, and more.
A remote work stipend can demonstrate that your business values your remote workers by helping them cover some of the costs associated with remote work, while also improving their home office setup as you would improve an office environment. On top of that, offering a remote work stipend not only gives you an edge when it comes to recruitment, but it can also help you retain international remote workers.
2. Identify the skills your remote workers want and empower them to learn them
Your teams want to learn, and you can make it happen. Start by learning what skills your workers value or self-identify as areas of improvement. This can be as simple as sending a survey or asking individuals directly. Make sure to account for both hard and soft skills.
Then, use the information you’ve gathered to establish a learning and development (L&D) program. Some ways you can bring your L&D program into reality are by introducing weekly learning hours and implementing a mentorship program. Additionally, consider setting aside funds for personal learning budgets. This is a great way to give your teams the autonomy to take their skills and career to the next level.
3. Cultivate a distinct culture to engage and retain workers
The recipe for a great remote culture is complex and needs to be adjusted to your company’s taste, but it does include a couple key base ingredients. Some of those include things we’ve discussed here, such as productive workspaces and professional growth opportunities. One other essential ingredient for culture is leadership.
Leaders and managers need to embody the company culture to truly get buy-in from their teams. This fact can’t be understated: 70% of the variance in team engagement can be chalked up to the manager’s ability to lead, according to a report from Gallup. The bottom line is that if managers aren’t effectively leading their remote teams, those workers will become disengaged. When a culture fails to engage workers, it hurts your retention, productivity, and ultimately your bottom line.