Sara Sutton Fell is chief executive and founder of FlexJobs and founder of the 1 Million for Work Flexibility initiative. She explains that companies need to shout about their flexible working approaches or risk missing the best talent.
Many companies have already witnessed first-hand the tremendous benefits of having a workplace flexibility program in place. Not only are they able to attract top-tier talent from anywhere in the world, but they’re also able to offer flexibility in a market where many competitors still require their employees to clock into an office each and every day. If you’re building up a flexible work program, make sure you’re doing it well.
Here are some tips for hiring – and more importantly, retaining – flexible workers.
Announce your flex
It’s one thing for your company to offer flexible schedules to its employees. But if you don’t advertise it, how will potential employees know about it? To ensure that your organisation continues to source the best possible remote workers out there, you’ll need to broadcast your flexible work options – loudly. For starters, you should clearly state in the job description that the job offers flexibility, whether it’s in the form of full-time telecommuting, working a compressed workweek, freelance work, or if it’s an office job, the ability for the employee to have more control over his schedule.
If your company hasn’t already done so, it should also post its flexible work policy on its website. This information might be placed on the Careers or About Us pages. That way, job seekers who are doing research about the company will know ahead of time that your organisation is flex-friendly.
And if you think that posting a job listing on any old job board will do, think again. If you’re looking to hire flexible workers, you have to go where they would be, and that’s on niche job boards that have jobs with some type of built-in flexibility. It will help ensure that the job candidates who are applying for the positions are serious about flexible work options and might already have experience working from home.
Use different management techniques for remote workers
Once you’ve hired a remote worker, your job doesn’t end there. You’ll need to set up some systems in order to make having a telecommuting employee be successful for both of you. Sans an office, it’s easy to lose communication and contact with an employee who works from a home office. So you’ll need to make a concerted effort to stay in touch with him and also keep him in the loop about work matters. Stress the importance of communication with your employee, and encourage him to reach out with any problems or issues. You can set up weekly or bi-weekly check-in meetings where he can voice any issues he’s come across—or simply as a way to foster good communication and rapport between the two of you.
If you have a remote team, you’ll need to make sure there’s open communication not only between you and your worker, but among all of your employees as well. Encourage collaboration with your remote workers through team-building exercises, meetings, and non-work-related activities, such as a virtual book club or by sharing pics of their interests and families. By creating an environment that mimics a real office, you’ll help your employees to build a camaraderie, which will, in turn, make them feel more connected to each other and to the company as a whole.
Be clear about expectations and goals
Just like an in-office employee, a remote worker needs to have a clear concept of what is expected of him in his role with the company. So you’ll need to set up some specific goals that your employee can work towards. These benchmarks can help him to not only stay on task and keep his productivity up as he works from home, but help him know exactly what is needed and expected of him at all times. You can review these metrics in regular meetings with your employee as well.
Having a work flexibility program in place is a huge win/win for both your company and your remote workers. By clearly communicating your work flex options to potential employees – and continuing that communication once they’re hired – your company is positioning itself to always have a strong, dedicated, and, most importantly, successful remote workforce.
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