Since employees who quit cost their companies up to 200 percent of their annual salaries to replace, retention is one of the most important issues facing businesses today. Virtual employees are especially vulnerable to retention issues because they often lack the camaraderie that’s present in an in-person environment. Adapted from the new edition of Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans' bestselling book Love Em or Lose Em, here are 26 A to Z strategies you can employ right away to keep your virtual team members from quitting this year.
Ask WHAT KEEPS YOU?
Do you know what your virtual employees want from their careers? Never assume. Since you don’t have the benefit of face-to-face communication, you’ll be wrong.
Buck IT STOPS HERE
Your virtual employees are every bit as much of your responsibility as your in-office employees. It’s up to you to make sure they are engaged and want to stay.
Careers SUPPORT GROWTH
Don’t confuse virtual employees with short-term, hourly employees. They need viable career paths too. Facilitate these. Don’t ignore them or get in the way of professional development.
Dignity SHOW RESPECT
Do your virtual employees know that you value and appreciate them? Ask yourself honestly if you are taking them for granted because you don’t have a strong in-person rapport.
Enrich ENERGIZE THE JOB
Are you constantly challenging your virtual employees, or is it the same old, same old? Make an effort to take things up a notch.
Family GET FRIENDLY
Even virtual employees can have work/life integration challenges. Don’t force them to choose between work and loved ones.
Goals EXPAND OPTIONS
Your virtual employees might not be interested in moving up, but they should have some forward-thinking goals. Take the time to help them develop and execute these.
Hire FIT IS IT
Take care to hire people upfront who will not only be successful virtual employees but who will also be a strong fit for your culture.
Information SHARE IT
Do you have the information your people need to do their jobs? If you do have it, are you hoarding it? Are you communicating expectations clearly?
Jerk DON’T BE ONE
It is not acceptable to treat virtual employees any which way simply because you don’t have to face them. Be considerate. Always.
Kicks GET SOME
It’s hard to make a virtual environment fun, but creative online techniques as well as an occasional in person gathering, can make all the difference.
Link CREATE CONNECTIONS
Introduce your virtual employees to other superstars in the organization. The less isolated they feel, the more likely they are to stay.
Mentor BE ONE
Do your virtual employees have opportunities to learn from you? Do you ever talk with them when you don’t need something specific? All employees need mentors and virtual ones shouldn’t be second-class citizens in this respect.
Numbers RUN THEM
If your senior leadership doesn’t want to invest in the care and feeding of your virtual employees, let them know exactly what will happen if you don’t.
Opportunities MINE THEM
Proactively identify opportunities within the organization that will benefit your virtual employees. If they are busy pursuing these, they won’t have the time or desire to look elsewhere.
Passion ENCOURAGE IT
Help your virtual employees identify how they define meaningful work, and infuse those qualities into the day.
Question RECONSIDER THE RULES
Your organization might have protocols around virtual employees. If these aren’t working, discard them.
Reward PROVIDE RECOGNITION
Understand what your outstanding virtual employees consider important – do they feel they deserve a salary increase or are occasional perks enough right now? Are you compensating them fairly in comparison to others?
Space GIVE IT
By nature of their jobs, virtual employees have to be allowed to operate reasonably independently. Avoid micromanaging them or checking in too often.
Truth TELL IT
It’s hard to be assertive with any employee, but it’s especially difficult when you can’t read an in-person reaction. But usually, truth actually helps rather than hurts.
Understand LISTEN DEEPER
Pay attention to what your employees are saying…and not saying. They will know if you are tuning them out or yessing them off the phone.
Values DEFINE AND ALIGN
It can be tough for virtual employees to connect with the larger mission of your organization and department. Make sure you educate them on the big picture. What are they working for and why does it matter?
Wellness SUSTAIN IT
Are your virtual employees burned out? Are they lonely? Are they bored? Since you don’t have the benefit of seeing them, you need to ask.
X-ers and others HANDLE WITH CARE
You may need to employ some different management and communication strategies based on the age of your virtual employees. One size does not fit all.
Yield POWER DOWN
Make sure your people have the authority to do their jobs and don’t be a bottleneck to progress. Step back and let them take the reins.
Zenith GO FOR IT
Infuse in your virtual employees a sense of team and a sense of great possibility. There is nothing you can’t achieve if you all work together.
As Beverly says, these are common sense strategies that are uncommonly practiced. Managers should check themselves every day.