Employee resignations are becoming a top concern of company executives. According to a recent survey done by Prudential, nearly half of all workers are contemplating or actively searching for a new job. The reasons cited for leaving or looking include compensation, lack of growth opportunities, and burnout. For some, the pandemic has triggered a work and life reassessment. Nearly 1 in 3 U.S. workers under the age of 40 have thought about changing their occupation or field since the pandemic began, a Washington Post poll found.
When asked about talent shortage strategies, a recent West Monroe Executive Poll found that 57% of executives plan to offer employees more flexibility in where they permanently reside. As a leader, managing remote employees comes with a new set of challenges—such as communication breakdowns and shifts in team dynamics.
So, how do you effectively manage an employee that you don’t see and interact with every day? Here are some ways to ensure success:
Be self-aware and socially-aware
Self: The Predictive Index has found that manager self-awareness contributes directly to employee engagement. If you are aware of and understand your strengths, weaknesses, triggers, and motivators—you will be more inclined to adapt your leadership to the needs of your remote employees. If you know your natural tendencies, you can lean on behaviors that are better suited for remote leadership.
All employees are different. Some are introverts, some are extroverts, some are energized by the unknown and others prefer the security of the familiar. Figure out what makes your remote worker tick. Employees want to feel that leadership understands their role within the organization and the challenges that come with it. A study by the Australian School of Business concluded that the ability of a leader to be empathetic and compassionate had the greatest impact on organizational profitability and productivity.
Social: Social awareness is the ability to “read the room.” As a remote leader, this means the virtual Zoom or Teams “room” during your weekly one-on-one or department team meeting. Emails and messages lack the emotion of in-person communication and are easy to misinterpret because you can’t see the person’s body language or hear his or her tone. Counteract this on video and phone calls by asking questions and working to become an active listener to better gauge how your remote employee is feeling.
Maintain strong 1-on-1 relationships
Foster personal connections: The relationship you, and your team, have with your remote employee is going to look different from the familiar side-by-side in-office dynamic. Remote work brings different challenges and needs. Schedule regular team/department meetings to foster a bond and sense of unity. Align your team’s goals through a common purpose and regularly recognize each person’s contribution. The employee not in the office misses out on the daily reinforcement of the team’s mission that happens in the context of casual conversations and spur-of-the-moment celebrations. As the leader, you must make sure your remote staff feels included.
Communication is key: Take time each day to engage directly with remote employees. It can be through email, text, or instant message. Have regular one-on-one conversations to check in and foster engagement. Keep the lines of communication open.
For more information on this topic, check out How to Maintain Company Culture When Working Remotely.
To learn how 500+ executives were able to prevent major financial loss during a tumultuous business year by practicing talent optimization, refer to The State of Talent Optimization.