Recruiting and the virtual workforce: How companies can capitalize by removing geographical barriers
As new technologies emerge, organizations are forced to make adjustments more quickly to attract and retain top talent. The number of people working from home and establishing virtual teams is growing. In fact, the 2012 National Study of Employers found that 63 percent of all employers allow employees to occasionally work from home — nearly double the percentage in 2005.
What impact does this have on recruiting? Recruiting good talent is no longer dependent on just the financial package being offered. Skilled workers that know their competitive landscape and understand their value are making demands outside of salary, benefits, and profit sharing; they want flexibility. Candidates want to have a work-life balance that makes sense for them. Many times this translates into telecommuting or working remotely.
Companies that adjust to this climate and offer flexible work options will get ahead by attracting valuable talent more quickly than competitors. They will also be able to secure the precise skill sets that they need, even if candidates live far from the employer’s brick and mortar offices. This broadens the net recruiters can cast for an applicant pool. Employers can now hire the best talent for their organizations rather than selecting from the talent that is available locally or open to relocation.
If your prospective employees value flexibility (and according to When Work Works, four out of five people say that flex is very important when considering a new job), failing to evolve alongside the trend could negatively impact an employer’s ability to attract key talent. The company will be sourcing from a smaller talent pool than competitors that do engage remote workers, and the organization also risks losing existing talent that might seek out flexible work opportunities elsewhere.
Remote employees tend to work longer hours than their on-site colleagues because they have difficulty turning off the work technologies at their fingertips. As attractive as this might sound, employers and employees should have a clear, mutual understanding of the job and associated expectations of the role in order for the engagement to be successful. The type and frequency of interaction between the employee, management, and other members of the department or team should also be agreed upon at the start of the engagement.
For employers considering a flexible work engagement for one of your employees, here are three important questions to ask:
- Does the position involve participation on highly collaborative projects? Roles that require team cohesiveness might lag behind without the physical interaction. Have an open discussion about tactics for overcoming this challenge.
- Has your company factored in security? Organizations that allow virtual work groups must spend more time on security and IT decisions. This includes how to control or protect proprietary information that is stored on personal cell phones, tablets, offsite laptops, and other technologies.
- What about employee engagement? Employee motivation and management of highly tactical jobs can also become more difficult on a virtual team. Making the employee feel like a part of the company culture can require some creativity.
Organizations might struggle to find the right balance. When developing a recruiting strategy, evaluate the role, its goals, and performance expectations before deciding whether to include work-from-home options.