How to Retain Remote Talent: 5 Best Practices to Start Using Today

Hiring RemoteWorking Remotely

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In our most recent report on the State of Remote Work, we uncovered that over half of people surveyed would choose to work remotely given the option.

But with so many remote companies to choose from, getting to work from home isn’t enough to retain remote team members these days.

So if this is the only “perk” your company offers, your employees may leave for the greener virtual pastures of another remote company that takes better care of their teams.

And you’ll be left with plummeting retention rates and a constant need to hire new team members, costing you time, money, and headaches.

But guess what? It’s not that difficult to retain remote team members who are productive, committed, and happy in their roles.

Follow the five best practices we’re sharing in today’s guide, and you’ll notice lower turnover rates and more engaged employees in no time.

How To Retain Remote Team Members: 5 Best Practices

Stop scrambling for new employees every few weeks and do this instead:

1. Start With an Exceptional Onboarding Process

Here at We Work Remotely, we’re big believers in a solid onboarding experience.

As we mentioned in our guide on the topic, an expertly crafted onboarding process can improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by 70%. 

A strong process also helps new employees feel more welcome and comfortable on day one, making them excited to join your mission and contribute their skills.

This first impression sets the tone for whether your new hire gives it their all or the bare minimum. So if you’re trying to retain remote team members for the long haul, your first step is to get your onboarding experience up to par.

We discussed all the ins and outs of creating the best onboarding experience in the guide just linked, and you should definitely check it out when you’re done here.

Essentially, your onboarding experience must show your new hire how much you value them. They shouldn’t feel like just another employee in your turnover Ferris wheel. Show them you’re invested in their success and excited by what you’re going to accomplish together as a team.
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Your process should welcome and introduce new hires to their team members. It should also set expectations early on so employees aren’t confused, anxious, or feeling left in the dark.

Once they feel valued and as if they’re an integral part of the team, loyalty should soon follow.

Again, you can learn more about creating an exceptional onboarding experience by checking out that guide or even reading this one on onboarding best practices for remote companies.

2. Adopt an Asynchronous Communication Style

It’s often said that employees don’t quit jobs; they quit bosses. And a lot of lousy employee/boss relationships start with poor communication.

Even though you won’t see your team members in person each day, your communication style plays a key role in keeping people happy and productive.

Constantly checking in, micromanaging from afar, and virtually hovering over your remote team members signals that you don’t trust them. This is incredibly distracting for remote employees and disheartening for team morale. Continue this long enough, and it’s also a surefire way to lose good employees.

A better approach is to adopt an asynchronous communication style.

This technique involves trusting your team members and giving them the autonomy to do their jobs on their own. As that guide discusses, teams following an asynchronous communication style send actionable messages without expecting an immediate response. 

This allows employees to keep distractions away during their deep, focused work hours. Then, when they have a break in the action, they can touch base, share an update, answer a question, etc.

While it may be challenging to adopt at first, this technique comes with benefits such as improved focus, higher productivity, and more engaged (and less stressed!) employees. Each new hire and veteran will know you trust them and their expertise, which all helps with retention.

Asynchronous communication new to you? Check out that guide mentioned earlier for a primer on everything you need to know. Then move on to these asynchronous communication examples to help you put what you’ve learned into practice.

3. Hold Regularly Scheduled Check-Ins and Performance Reviews

With asynchronous communication, you’ll be checking in every so often to make sure your team members have everything they need to complete their jobs, meet their deadlines, and haven’t hit any hiccups.

But you’ll also want to hold regularly scheduled individual check-ins with your teammates to touch base and see how they’re doing. This one-on-one time will show your employees that you’re invested in their success. 

Ask open-ended questions about what they need from you, what they’re liking, challenges they’re facing, etc. Let them know you’re always there to help.

These meetings will allow you to learn how to support your team better. And they’ll clue you into potential issues before someone’s ready to jump ship for a better remote opportunity.

Plus, they don’t have to and shouldn’t be long -- just enough to keep the lines of communication open so you can meaningfully engage.

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On top of those check-ins, it’s also a good idea to give routine performance reviews.

Some remote employees feel isolated working apart from the team. They may feel like their hard work goes unnoticed because they’re not physically around to get that coveted pat on the back.

Your performance reviews give you the space to provide feedback to your 
employees, boost morale, and pinpoint who may be struggling and need help.

So be sure to praise their achievements and address any areas that need work during these 30, 60, 90-day, and annual performance reviews. 

What you discuss here should lead to our next tip.

4. Offer Virtual Training To Sharpen and Improve Skills

Your performance reviews and check-ins may reveal skills your employees need to improve. 

To show that you’re invested in their career development and success, offer them the chance to continue their education.

Give your employees access to online training and courses in both hard and soft skills. Then find a way to reward those who take you up on the offer.

This simple but effective best practice will help your remote employees feel more engaged with their work and loyal to the company. 

Bonus: Since they’re advancing their skills and evolving, they may help boost collaboration, increase productivity, and improve communication to the benefit of you and the rest of your team.

5. Give Recognition and Praise So Each Employee Feels Appreciated

Always remember to give your remote team the kudos and recognition it deserves. 

Praise them as a group, but don’t forget to shout out specific employee achievements to make each person feel valued and appreciated.

It’s not uncommon for remote employees to set up a routine and grind away on their hamster wheels each day. So sending kudos or acknowledging a job well done helps break up this demotivating monotony.

Even a small shoutout in a Slack channel or via email will go a long way. 

It won’t cost you much to do this, yet it will pay dividends in having happy, loyal employees who feel appreciated and stick around.

Final Thoughts On How To Retain Remote Teams

Hopefully, reading this guide gave you plenty of easy (and affordable) ways to retain remote team members.

Having a solid onboarding experience ensures that new hires are set up right from the start, making them more vested in your company early on.

Then it’s all about communicating effectively, showing that you trust their work process, and support their career development. Sprinkle in some regular check-ins and kudos, and your remote team will always feel valued.

That’s how you retain remote team members who grow within and for your company. See ya, high turnover rates!

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