How HR Can Help Employees Grow While Working from Home

Hiring Remote

Labor shortages and skills gaps are only getting wider. Now it’s time for HR to help employees grow their careers when working from home before they lose them.

According to one report, 89% of learning and development (L&D) pros say proactively building employee skills helps organizations navigate the evolving future of work. This upskilling and reskilling prepares your workforce for future roles within your organization and throughout their careers.
The Harvard Business Review found that [*]:

  • Organizations with a strong learning culture are 92% more likely to develop novel products and processes, 52% more productive, 56% more likely to be the first to market with their products and services, and 17% more profitable than their competitors. 

  • Employees who receive professional development opportunities are 15% more engaged and have 34% higher retention than those who don’t.

  • 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development.

So the benefits of employee development more than pay for the costs — especially considering that 86% of employees would jump ship if a new company offered them more career advancement opportunities [*].

Let’s explore the best career development tips for remote employees you can start using today.

How HR Can Help Employees Grow Their Careers When Working From Home

Our guide on How To Support Career Growth for Remote Employees outlines seven tips for organizations, managers, and team leaders to ensure their virtual workforce achieves its full potential. Those best practices include:

  1. Make learning part of your company culture. Stats show retention rates rise 50% when employees are encouraged to level up [*].

  2. Outline a clear career path for each remote role. Helping candidates envision a future with your organization and providing the means to get there boosts job satisfaction and loyalty.

  3. Invest in learning opportunities, such as virtual workshops, webinars, and lunch-and-learn sessions. Offer a learning stipend to cover the costs of books, online courses, online coaching/mentoring, etc.

  4. Provide on-the-job upskilling. Job shadowing, cross-training, stretch assignments, etc., empower remote employees with new skills and confidence.

  5. Encourage mentorships, both between peers and between junior-level and senior-level employees.

  6. Prioritize consistent, real-time feedback to increase visibility on your employees’ hard work and hear their suggestions to improve your L&D game plan.

  7. Reward employees for their achievements. Recognize your employee’s accomplishments and show them how much you value and appreciate their contributions.

Now, HR teams should definitely follow those tips. However, the primary duties of human resources employees differ from those of department managers and team leaders. 

HR is responsible for overseeing a company’s workforce by ensuring that employees feel supported, engaged, and able to progress in their career development. They’re in charge of recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and much more.

So taking remote employee career growth from an HR perspective, we think it’s best to:

1. Create L&D Paths for Each Role

Employee development is all about improving your workforce’s skills via professional training and continuing education. The best organizations align their L&D paths with their business needs, industry trends, and team members’ existing skills.

Let’s say your business is growing and needs more remote customer support reps. Developing your current agents will help move them into leadership positions, so you can hire new reps to staff your 24/7 outreach channels.

Promoting from within increases employee morale and retention. It also helps your team save on recruiting costs (which can get expensive for leadership roles!).

In this example, your L&D paths may include ongoing training for new outreach methods (think: web, social media, text, knowledge base articles, etc.), soft skills, emotional intelligence, and more. 

Investing in staff development creates a highly skilled workforce that can confidently tackle your business’ future demands.

2. Recruit Curious, Life-long Learners with Your Job Listings

It’s much easier to train people who want to learn than force uninterested folks. Good news? The best recruitment practices can attract those curious cats right to your inbox.

To show candidates why working remotely is good for career building at your organization:

  • Highlight your learning culture on your Careers page
  • Add your career development opportunities to your WWR Company Profile
  • Include L&D in your remote job listings

Fun fact: 75% of job seekers consider career development opportunities a top priority when deciding where to apply. Prove you’re scouting growth-minded candidates, and you’ll increase your chances of nabbing them.

📬 Want more remote applicants? Check out these guides next:

Don’t forget to assess your job posting guidelines to ensure they attract and facilitate internal promotions too.

3. Emphasize Your Culture of Learning During Onboarding

Remote onboarding is key for your organization’s talent management strategy. It introduces new hires to your team’s policies and company culture while explaining how their work will contribute to your mission.

Organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% [*]. Unfortunately, only 12% of employees describe their organization’s onboarding as “good.” Yikes!

So how do you set the right tone?

Ask About Your New Hire’s Career Goals

Gartner found that 82% of employees want their organization to see them as a person, not just another worker bee. Yet only 45% of employees believe their organization actually sees them this way [*].

So use your onboarding time to get to know your new hires and learn how they wish to grow in their careers. Once you understand their goals, tailor the role’s L&D path (remember tip #1?) to brainstorm a customized game plan that includes:

  • Online training courses
  • Certifications they should receive
  • Mentors to pair up with
  • Webinars or virtual conferences to attend

Over 91% of employees want personalized and relevant training [*]. So a bespoke L&D path may speed up employee integration, boost productivity and performance, and skyrocket their commitment to advancement.

Set Milestones and Goals for New Hires To Reach

Did you know that 60% of businesses don’t set any goals or milestones for new hires during onboarding [*]? This is a huge missed opportunity.

Remote workers need clear objectives to progress in their roles and careers. Setting goals and milestones for new hires:

  • Clarifies expectations, so they can focus and prioritize their tasks.

  • Encourages accountability, so they can take proactive ownership of their work and performance.

  • Motivates with a sense of purpose.

Setting goals also gives your HR team a framework for performance reviews. Check in at key milestones to evaluate, share feedback, and set new goals. Get in the habit of recognizing and celebrating achievements too. 

Your performance evaluations may only occur annually, but employee recognition should occur more frequently with your new hire’s direct manager.

Arrange a 1:1 with a Direct Manager

More than 72% of employees say 1:1 time with their direct manager contributes to a positive onboarding experience [*]. That’s because this initial meeting allows both parties to:

  • Get to know each other. Create a document where new hires and managers can discuss their work styles, goals, how they prefer to share knowledge/learn new information, what they expect from each other, etc. This is vital for establishing trust and understanding. It also helps your managers provide the best guidance and resources to support them.

  • Establish a regular check-in model. How will new hires and managers keep in touch and evaluate progress? Let them work out a way to bring up concerns, challenges, and feedback with each other.  

Improving your remote onboarding with a focus on career development tells new hires that you’re invested in their advancement and expect them to grow.

4. Ensure L&D Opportunities Benefit Everyone

Is your organization remote-first or remote-friendly? 

Remote-friendly organizations may unintentionally show proximity bias toward on-premise employees, leaving remote workers behind in terms of career growth. This often happens when leaders:

  • Fail to recognize contributions made by employees working remotely
  • Offer new assignments and promotions to on-prem employees first
  • Only schedule in-house training

So how does HR help develop employees remotely and promote equity between on- and off-site teams?

You draft policies that ensure visibility and train your teams/leaders to remove this bias from the workplace.

On the other hand, remote-first organizations with fully-distributed workforces give all employees a more even playing field. But that doesn’t mean your L&D opportunities are equally accessible. 

To ensure everyone receives the same chance to grow and succeed:

Provide Flexible Online & Mobile L&D Options

Digital learning opportunities (aka e-learning) refer to virtual training sessions, online coaching/mentoring, employee upskilling in the metaverse, online knowledge bases, and more.

Online learning saves organizations millions in expenses and allows employees to consume more content in less time. It’s also brilliant for employees working in different time zones, as they’re not forced to attend a live training session outside of their typical work hours.

According to employee surveys [*][*]:

  • 68% of employees prefer to learn at work.

  • 58% prefer to learn at their own pace.

  • Most employees (85%) want to choose training times that fit their schedule.

  • Nearly 90% of employees believe training should be available anywhere and anytime they need to do their job.

E-learning satisfies all these employee preferences. To implement it:

Choose a digital learning platform with individualized learning plans. Employees can sign into their personal accounts to complete relevant training modules or take hand-picked courses tailored to their career goals.

To boost employee engagement, look for e-learning providers that offer online courses with gamification and incentivization.

Host, record, and share live webinars, workshops, and virtual conferences for others who could not attend.

Add microlearning to your knowledge base. Upload short, employee-created videos, wikis, blogs, podcasts, etc., to your knowledge base to cross-train others asynchronously. Employees can snack on this bite-sized, easily digestible content and message coworkers with questions on their time.

Knowledge sharing allows employees to show off their expertise, improves collaboration, and facilitates remote team-building.

Schedule L&D during work hours. Don’t let your team get too burned out to invest in self-improvement. Encourage a healthy work-life balance that includes time on the clock to complete regular learning sessions. 

Or consider implementing a 4-day work week so your remote employees have an extra day to spend on their professional and personal development.

Keep Cultural Differences In Mind

In our guide on Supporting and Managing Cross-Cultural Remote Teams, we discussed how cultural differences may affect L&D participation. Check out that guide to guarantee that your initiatives land with every team member (not just the majority) and think about ways to be more inclusive.

For example, you could offer language learning resources to help team members improve their multilingual communication skills.

5. Lean Into Leadership Development

How can HR improve work-from-home career development from the top? By investing in leadership training. Your managers must learn how to take your L&D strategies and use them to support their remote teams. Bad news?

  • 59% of managers who oversee one to two employees report having no training at all [*].

  • Managers tasked with developing their employees spend only 9% of their time doing so [*].

  • 45% of leaders feel they don't possess the necessary skills to build up their employees [*].

Developing your employees provides a vast talent pool of candidates to step into your leadership positions. So encourage and reward managers for developing and recommending talent for promotional opportunities rather than “hoarding” skilled employees for their own team.

Now HR Can Start Supporting Remote Workers’ Career Goals

Researchers say 74% of employees believe they need more professional development to reach their full potential [*]. And 90% of employees strongly agree that training improved their performance [*].

Our five fantastic tips will help your HR team support employee empowerment, improve business outcomes, raise engagement, and lower turnover.

To attract top talent to your team, use your remote job listings to tell candidates how you’ll help them thrive in their careers. Then post your jobs on We Work Remotely, the largest remote work community in the world. 

We know our 4.5M visitors would love to grow with your team! 🙌

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