Competing for Talent When Geography Does Not Matter

February 13, 2017

If your organization won a local chamber of commerce Best Place to Work award in the past year or so, congrats! Recognition as a top local employer can certainly be an advantage in recruiting talent, but if your nomination and selection were tied to worksite perks like an on-site gym, free and healthy breakroom snacks, or monthly desk massages, that award may have diminishing returns. In an increasingly virtual and global workforce, standing out as a desirable employer requires a different set of criteria. When talented employees increasingly have the option of working remotely, being a top local or regional employer may not be enough to keep you on their list of companies to work for. How can your company compete? As the saying goes, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Flexible work arrangements, telecommuting and opportunities to work virtually rank high on an employee list of perks that boost attraction and retention. But with organizations increasingly offering virtual employment, how can your company create a standout virtual environment?  Here are our tips on hiring and retaining great virtual talent.

Leveraging technology to find virtual talent

Sourcing and hiring talent looks very different today than it did even five years ago. Not only is job posting moving toward mobile and social channels, but the majority of job seekers would embrace the opportunity to apply for positions, negotiate and accepts offers, all on mobile devices. The best virtual employees are the ones who embrace more technology in their recruitment experience, so offering video interviews is another way to engage their interest. Because opening up a position to a wider geographical range will likely increase your overall pool of applicants, it’s vital to have an applicant tracking system to support the management of your recruiting function. Once you’ve settled on a great virtual hire, integrated, paperless onboarding will make your new employee feel welcome from the first day. For more ideas on how technology can improve your recruiting processes, read How Technology is Impacting Recruiting in 2017.

Creating a culture that supports virtual employees

Considered communication should be at the center of a viable corporate culture but for a company with remote workers, it is vital. Set a regular meeting cadence with individuals and teams to ensure that everyone is connected. While not everyone is a fan of video meetings, they do serve to create a connection and help to build authentic relationships. Employees accustomed to virtual work may even expect to have video meetings.

In addition to video meetings, leveraging other non-traditional business communication tools has been found to improve engagement of virtual workers. Instant messaging is nothing new, but today there are many apps that allow for informal group conversations as well as information sharing. Slack and Confluence are just a few of the many team collaboration tools popular in companies with large virtual workforces.

In addition to collaboration and communication tools, it’s important to consider the devices your employees will use. Many organizations have moved to a BYOD (bring your own device policy) because employees have unique device preferences and today’s cloud environment allows for secure and consistent access to most systems regardless of device. Allowing a virtual employee to use their own hardware, offset by a stipend or allowance, also puts the maintenance of that device in their hands. If something breaks, by default they have permission level access to resolve repairs. If you issue hardware to virtual employees, make sure that there is a good system for repair and replacement that does not leave them without needed access.

If your company or a large part of your workspace is virtual, then you’re no doubt saving on office space and related overhead. Consider using some of that surplus to fund face-to-face opportunities for your virtual workers. If everyone is virtual, a retreat is a great chance to make the types of connections that lead to higher engagement and retention. If you have a brick and mortar space, bring your virtual folks in so that they can forge deeper relationships with all. Face-to-face connections don’t have to be a regular thing, even annual meetings are sufficient to foster relationships.

Traditional best practices in creating an engaged workforce are even more important for remote environments. Coaching and mentoring, performance reviews and peer reviews all play a strong role in maintaining a connection.

Hiring the best talent for your needs is easier than even in a global, virtual working world. To compete, offer candidates and employees the very best tools and technologies to support their recruitment and employment experiences. With a full suite of integrated HCM solutions, Asure Software can support every aspect of the remote employee lifecycle, helping your organization build a great virtual culture.