I will not blame the reader of this blog for thinking, ‘Why is Resonate, a B2B Strategy, Marketing and Sales firm, writing about the loyalty of the remote workforce?’ We are not an HR consultancy. We do not offer solutions that relate to loyalty in the workplace. Then why have I bothered to write about this topic? Simply – because it matters to the success of the B2B firm, and that is fundamentally what we are about.
At Resonate, one of the services we provide is Strategy Advisory and Consulting. We work closely with our clients to ensure that their strategy is on point and yielding the desired results for them. Over the last two and a half years, COVID changed how the world works. Remote work became the norm. As we started coming out of COVID, we heard murmurs of ‘The Great Resignation’ and ‘The Great Reshuffle’. This is where the need for loyalty in the era of remote work comes into play. You cannot execute the most refined and astute business strategy if you don’t have the people to do so.
Why employee loyalty matters
Organisational success is highly contingent on employee loyalty. Hiring people is difficult. Training them and skilling them up to a level where they can be productive is even more difficult. Hence, retention is of paramount importance. It directly impacts business stability, sustainability, and growth.
In the past, employee loyalty was a natural outcome borne of a ‘job for life’ thinking. Today, many employers face uncertainty about the stability of their businesses. Be it owing to world events such as COVID, or the pressure from the competitive landscape, disruptions rendering their offering or business model obsolete. Nothing is certain in today’s world. This climate can make job security and employee loyalty seem like a thing of the past.
However, employers must not write off employee loyalty as a target too tough to achieve and consequently not worth pursuing. Investing in employee loyalty helps reduce the substantial outpouring of cash into new staff acquisition, training and development. It is essential to keep in mind that each time a trained employee leaves an organisation, they may be joining a competitor. Therefore, not only does the organisation lose an asset, but its competitor gains one, placing the organisation at an even greater disadvantage.
Employers must re-wire and learn the shape and dimensions of loyalty. They must also learn how to foster loyalty within their organisation. Doing so will result in employees who are more productive and willing to invest back into the company with their time, long-term commitment, enthusiasm, and innovation.
Signs of diminished loyalty amongst remote employees
The mismanagement of remote employees leads to a myriad of challenges. These challenges can directly impact the employee’s professional and personal well-being and, consequently, their loyalty to the organisation. Loyalty inevitably diminishes when employers and leaders are ‘out of touch’ with their employees. Employers must pay close attention to compensation with the recent trend amongst those seeking talent offering higher wages. If employees feel underpaid compared to their fluctuating market value, it will profoundly affect their desire to move on to a more lucrative opportunity.
With work-life balance at the forefront of remote working positives, employers must be mindful of curbing workloads so they do not reach ‘unmanageable’ territory. When employees feel undervalued or lack a sense of belonging, their engagement levels will drop. When disengagement manifests, it dramatically impacts an employee’s productivity.
Here are some signs of disengagement to look out for:
- Employee shows little interest in their work
- Employee shows little interest in the organisation
- Employee’s quality of work falls
- Marked shift to a negative attitude
- Isolating behaviours such as avoiding meetings or low participation in meetings
- Higher frequency of days off
- No longer considered a ‘team player’
What does good remote workforce management look like?
Understanding that there is a difference between the connectedness that technology affords us and remote collaboration is one of the keys to meeting the needs of remote employees. Ensuring that employees do not feel neglected or experience burnout must be just as important to employers and leaders as monitoring productivity.
When managed correctly, remote workers feel happier, more trusted and reap the benefits of better work-life balance. The ability to pick up the kids from school, fit in a doctor’s appointment, or take their dog for a walk, positively impacts how an employee feels about their overall work situation. Under the right conditions, a remote worker will blossom into a happy, highly productive, and loyal team member invested in bringing the organisation’s vision to life. So, the question is, how do you keep your remote workers happy?
With a lack of face-to-face time, remote workers are at greater risk of work feeling ‘mundane’. This often sparks a desire to ‘move on’ and find a more dynamic and challenging opportunity. Therefore, providing training and learning opportunities for professional growth is vital to remote workers’ job satisfaction levels. The utilisation of platforms such as Coursera, Udemy and LinkedIn Learning makes upskilling accessible and relatively inexpensive for employers. The benefits are evident for both parties, with employees gaining new skills and confidence and employers gaining a more diversely skilled workforce.
An employee’s relationship with their workplace must extend beyond tasks and deadlines. Their skills, time and efforts must be appreciated by leaders. Further to that, appreciation is the number one driver that enables employees to engage with their work in a meaningful way and align with their organisation’s vision. Therefore, leaders must ensure that appreciation is shown consistently and in a highly demonstrable way. Simply saying “thanks” for a job well done can substantially impact motivation. Note that leaders must address appreciation in real time for a recognition program to see success.
Employers must learn to trust employees to manage themselves and their tasks without interfering or micromanaging. Understanding that workflows will vary from person to person means creating space for employees to finish tasks based upon priority in the most productive way for their individual and optimal working style. Be accommodating and ensure that employees know that their work-life balance and well-being are priorities for the organisation.
Communicate… communicate.. communicate.. Creating a sense of belonging and community is essential for remote workers; loyalty will not prosper without it. An organisation’s communication culture must be positive and focused on achieving positive outcomes such as good task and project coordination, healthy conflict resolution and clarity of responsibility. Further to this, leaders must welcome employee feedback, particularly around implementing changes. Feedback from employees around the success, challenges, and possible failures of such changes is critical to employees feeling valued and heard.
When managed correctly, remote work can lead to increased loyalty
The loyalty of remote workers will not come about merely through the ability to work from home. However, with proper management, remote work can be rewarding, flexible, and enjoyable beyond on-site work. Remote work can satisfy a vast array of today’s employee expectations, and under the ideal remote conditions, employees are motivated to hold onto their highly coveted positions tightly.
The remote environment also caters better to a broader range of personality types than on-site work. For example, producing high-quality work from the comfort and safety of home benefits personality types such as introverts who may be overwhelmed and stressed in on-site environments. This increase in comfort levels can, in turn, increase confidence and productivity as a by-product of reduced stress levels.
Work-life balance is genuinely possible in a remote environment, allowing employees to experience a greater feeling of being in control of their lives. Less time spent commuting means more time for parenting, socialising, hobbies and tending to projects that may have otherwise gone neglected due to lack of time, money and energy.
Remote employees can exercise more discernment when it comes to finances. The ability to save increases by eliminating costs such as commuting, work attire and work lunches. This saving also increases the possibility of discretionary spending on activities, hobbies and holidays that may have previously been out of reach. A healthier handle on finances and a greater focus on personal well-being can significantly increase happiness. Employees value a job that makes them feel happy in life overall. Happiness, in turn, invokes a greater sense of loyalty.
Which organisations will succeed in building remote employee loyalty?
Organisations that best understand and cater to the needs of their employees will be amongst the most successful. Respecting that loyalty today must be invoked through differing means of times past is key. Management who lament and belittle the demands of younger generations will lose out significantly. Comparing the drivers of loyalty of the past with the drivers of loyalty today is futile and unintelligent. The world has changed irrevocably, and so has the employer to employee dynamic.
Accepting, addressing, and fulfilling the multi-faceted requirements of remote employee management today is vital to the overall success of each and every organisation. A serious and conscientious investment in remote employee management practices is a sound investment in an organisation’s future.
Today, remote work is a new norm that we must all accept, and along with it, a new version of loyalty. ‘The Great Resignation’ and ‘The Great Reshuffle’ pose very real and ongoing threats to the stability of organisations. A business strategy may outline the path to success; however, if an organisation continually loses employees, strategy alone will not be enough to realise that success. People are the lifeblood of an organisation. The loyalty of people is vital to an organisation’s success. Invest in them, and they will invest in your vision.