The rise of remote work has given companies a global workforce, and employees a world of job opportunities. With more flexibility to explore new jobs, retention is especially top of mind. Employers who were caught on their heels are now (hopefully) focusing their attention on new methods to bring fresh talent onto their teams and retain that talent for the long haul.
The good news is we can discover what workers are looking for. To determine which tools can empower and retain remote workers, my company surveyed more than 1,000 newly remote employees to find out how the change to remote work affected them.
As communicators co-create the new future of work, here are some perks to consider adding to your company’s employee recruitment and retention plan.
Perk: Hybrid Socialization
Our survey findings were surprising and entirely simple: A strong bond between co-workers led to happier, more productive employees and better retention of those workers. The survey showed that 66% of employees said their relationships with their colleagues was the most important factor in their decision to stay with or leave a company. The data is clear. Employees want to have connections at work, remote or in person. After all, it’s where they spend the majority of their days.
One of the best ways to boost retention in the hybrid workforce is to provide employees with digital tools and a digital workplace that offers space to socialize.
Most companies are using Slack these days, and it is a great tool, but employees want more. Employees seek innovative solutions and creative approaches that break the mold of apps like Slack and Zoom.
Our survey found that two of the top five most wanted virtual activities involved virtual gamification — virtual escape rooms and virtual scavenger hunts. Employees want more friendly and strategic “competition” among their co-workers. Therefore, we have been working to make our multiplayer corporate games as immersive as possible to fill that need for socialization among co-workers.
Workers want more virtual team-building events. Seventy-three percent of our survey respondents said they want these types of events at least once a month, and 92% of workers want team-building activities quarterly, at a minimum. To truly engage your remote and in-person employees, offer them virtual team building activities that take them out of their routine. These novel interactive activities forge deeper relationships and improve retention.
Perk: Office Hubs vs. Office HQs
Some larger companies are taking an innovative approach to the physical workplace by adding hubs in cities where they have a significant amount of employees. These hubs are optional office spaces that remote employees can choose to use for meetings, brainstorming sessions and trips to the office for in-person collaboration.
Companies such as Google are planning for the hybrid future via hubs. According to a Business Insider report, instead of putting all of its focus in Silicon Valley, the company is planning for hubs across the country to fit the flexibility desires of its workers. Twitter also is considering a similar model.
Seventy-seven percent of employees said that after the pandemic, they would prefer to work at home. According to an OWL Labs survey, 23% of those surveyed would be willing to take a 10–20% pay cut to be able to work remotely.
Companies like Google are listening and bringing the office to the employees they want rather than forcing them to move to their headquarters. Workers expect flexibility moving forward. It remains one of the biggest work perks of all.
Perk: Health Benefits, Remotely
Remote and hybrid workers need to take care of their physical and mental health. In fact, some argue that remote work can be more isolating, thus health benefits matter more. This is just one reason employers are incorporating a focus on mental health and wellness benefits in the hybrid workplace. Some options include telehealth and telemental health benefits and programs.
Unfortunately, according to a 2021 survey by PwC, employers aren’t doing a great job handling employees’ mental health. There was a 26% gap between employer and employee responses to a question of how effectively companies are supporting employees' mental health.
Companies need to do better, and thankfully there are an abundance of solutions available to do so remotely. One of the leading examples is Better Help, a virtual therapy service with professional counselors that offers memberships. Workplaces can also offer wellness apps like Calm and Headspace, sometimes at a discounted rate.
Perk: A Home Office Suited for Success
It shouldn’t be your employees’ jobs to buy a new desk, printer, computer and comfortable chair so they can be more productive for you. Employers should take initiative and make sure home offices, which are an extension of the company’s office, are well equipped for success.
Companies at the forefront are letting their employees expense top-of-the-line tech equipment, including items such as noise-canceling headphones, to ensure their employees are productive in the home office and understand their value.
Other benefits include stipends or programs to help employees redesign their home offices.
Shopify, for example, announced it was giving its remote employees $1,000 each to equip their home offices for success.
It’s All About Maintaining Connections in the Hybrid Workplace
Now more than ever, employers must consider their employees' feelings and well-being in hybrid and remote environments. It can be easy to overlook these aspects, and socialization in general, when we are working via emails, Slack channels and Zoom. Still, behind every screen is a human with emotional needs and wants.
Employers who will succeed in the new workplace are those who focus on employees and provide the tools they need to feel at home virtually.
Virgile Loisance is the CEO of Emeraude Escape, where he leads a team of game designers as they build tailor-made corporate gamification solutions for global corporations. Emeraude creates games for up to 200,000 players, allowing colleagues to compete virtually, solve escape rooms together and interact in a natural way that goes beyond work-related activities