Should you let your employees go remote? How to weigh the risks and benefits

Benefits of Telecommuting

The benefits of telecommuting are becoming clearer, and this practice has gained popularity so fast that it is now considered a standard perk in some industries. Forrester Research predicts that by 2016, 43 percent of the U.S. workforce will primarily work from home. Not only that, but a Global Workplace Analytics survey found that 36 percent of employees would choose a telecommuting option over a pay raise. Would your organization benefit from allowing, or encouraging, some employees to work remotely? There are a few key factors you should consider before you decide to offer this option. And be aware—if you don’t discuss telecommuting proactively, your employees will likely start asking about it soon.

First, consider what types of jobs are best suited for remote work. Obviously anyone dealing with customers, patients, or physical objects can’t telecommute. If you have team members whose effectiveness depends on immediate information exchange, then their roles are not well-suited for telecommuting. However, many information-based jobs can be done from home just as well as they can from a cubicle, if not even better. Many employees report higher levels of productivity at home, when they don’t have to deal with distractions from coworkers, ambient noise, and difficult commutes.

Effective telecommuting requires certain basic ingredients, both human and technological. Before being granted the right to work remotely, an employee should demonstrate consistently high performance and commitment to the job. Once they’re home, they’ll have no oversight, so managers will need a good way to track results and keep employees accountable. (Though this is true even for employees who come into the office every day – results speak much louder than butt-in-seat-time).

Additionally, you will have to consider the technology needed to support effective remote workstations. Will your staff members need to share a virtual whiteboard space, have real-time group meetings, or simultaneously mark up documents? Remote work platforms are becoming more sophisticated, but it might take some up-front investment on your part to provide your employees with high-quality software and audio and video equipment.

Telecommuting is somewhat unstructured by nature, so creating a structure is a good idea. Be clear with your employees about what hours you expect them to be available, and through what means of communication. Ask for input from your employees, and engage in conversations about the possible issues that might arise. Once you have the technology and policy in place, begin slowly: Have workers telecommute one or two days a week at first, and then evaluate how things are going at the end of each month. While you may increase this schedule to several days a week, you’ll probably still want to have regular meeting times where everyone comes together in the same place. It’s important that employees continue to feel a sense of belonging and identification with your organization.

Employee engagement is the key to business success. Employees feel more engaged and productive when they are able to effectively balance work and family obligations. In fact, businesses whose workers telecommute at least three times a month are likelier to see a 10 percent higher annual revenue growth. That means that telecommuting doesn’t just benefit your employees—it can benefit your business’ bottom line as well.  When managed well, your team of virtual employees can get the best of both work worlds.

Money doesn’t motivate: Why employees need more than just a paycheck

Salary and Job Satisfaction

by Andrea Vearncombe, Total Rewards Manager, Achievers

Why do your employees show up at work every morning? If you think it’s just to earn a paycheck, then you’re overlooking something essential about human motivation. Most people agree that fair compensation is a requirement for employee engagement and job satisfaction, but it only meets the bare minimum.

Research studies published in Harvard Business Review demonstrate that the overlap between pay level and job satisfaction is actually less than two percent. Of course salaries have to be competitive if you want to attract and retain employees in the first place, but once people are able to meet their basic lifestyle needs, their happiness and engagement are actually driven by non-financial factors.

Harvard researchers noted that corporate performance is directly correlated with employee motivation, so they ran a large-scale study to determine exactly how managers can foster a strong climate of motivation within their teams.

In a survey of 300 Fortune 500 companies, the researchers focused on four specific indicators of motivation:

  • Employee engagement
  • Satisfaction
  • Commitment
  • Intention to quit

They defined “engagement” as the “energy, effort and initiative that employees bring to the job.” Their research found that none of these four indicators of motivation were actually influenced by salary.

They also discovered two important human needs that determined how engaged employees will be. The first of these is the need to bond with larger teams and groups. When an employee feels proud to be part of an organization or company, they are strongly motivated to give their best effort. The second need that companies can fulfill is the individual’s desire to be challenged and to make a unique and meaningful contribution to their organization.

The take-away for HR and people leaders is that recognition and rewards shouldn’t just come in the form of salaries and bonuses. Instead, the most effective way to foster engagement is by acknowledging the human need for bonding and teamwork. Positive social recognition from both managers and peers will encourage individuals to meet challenges and contribute to the success of their team. When employees feel acknowledged and appreciated by the people around them, they’re more likely to repeat the behaviors that earned praise.

Because this element of human-to-human bonding and recognition is so essential for job satisfaction, it needs to be systemic within your organization. Don’t leave recognition up to chance. Develop a strategy around how recognition and rewards will be distributed across each sector of your company so that every employee has the chance to participate. By making investments in employee alignment, rewards and recognition, and team bonding activities, you can earn much higher returns than just doling out large raises.

 

Andrea VearncombeAndrea Vearncombe is responsible for leading the global total rewards and culture strategy for Achievers in North America and EMEA.

How does that make you feel? Why employee mood is important

Woman Takes Employee Surveys for Employee MoraleIf you want to keep a pulse on your company’s health, you need to understand how engaged or disengaged your employees are feeling on a regular basis. It’s no longer sufficient to gauge employee satisfaction just once or twice a year. After all, if leadership, employee morale, or performance problems aren’t solved quickly, they can lead to a drop in productivity, job satisfaction, and customer service. Big data and frequent employee surveys are a great way to measure employee mood and satisfaction in real time.

Why companies need to understand their workforce

There’s a reason world-class companies are constantly assessing employee satisfaction: engaged employees are the engine that fuels growth, great ideas, and customer satisfaction.
It’s important to remember that employee engagement directly relates to the success of an organization. Would employees recommend other skilled people in the industry for a job at your company? Do they project a positive image when dealing with your clients and customers? Do employees feel they can openly approach supervisors with suggestions? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then disengaged employees might negatively impact your business without you realizing it.

Stay on top of employee needs every day

Businesses are using real-time data to track their markets, their customers’ behaviors, their advertising performance, and more. So why don’t we start applying this same level of analysis to tracking employee engagement? Forget annual surveys: you should be measuring engagement on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

Frequent employee surveys will allow you to track the effects of changes in your business, such as new system implementation, changes in management, changes in company structure, or anything else that might affect engagement and morale.

Make smart changes based on employee feedback

Employee surveys are an excellent way to keep managers informed. Gather feedback on a variety of your business practices, including training, onboarding, work environment, leadership effectiveness, systems, and more. This feedback will empower you to take a data-driven approach to improving your processes, evaluating your leadership team, and improving employee engagement.

It’s also worth using survey data to influence business decisions. Will employees react positively to a merger? What benefits do they actually want? What do they think about your company’s new growth strategy? These are the kinds of important questions a survey can answer quickly to keep your business on track.

Building a business case: How to convince your company it’s time for a social recognition program

By now, you’ve heard the news: employee engagement is a huge challenge for the modern workforce. As a result, businesses are dealing with high turnover rates, absenteeism, low performance numbers, and loss of customers.

Studies have revealed that employee recognition is one of the top drivers of engagement, so for many HR professionals, recognition seems like the silver bullet.

Brandon Hall Employee Engagement Social Recognition

 

In fact, in 2014, Brandon Hall Group discovered that companies that invest in social recognition programs see a 96% employee participation rate in engagement efforts, versus only 38% participation with other types of engagement programs.

Despite the growing evidence in favor of these programs, implementing a robust social recognition strategy can be daunting. You need to get buy-in from your executives, compensation managers, IT, and people leaders before you can introduce new technology. And once you’ve launched, you need enthusiasm from leadership before you can expect adoption from your employees.

So how do you convince key stakeholders that social recognition is a smart business move? Executives are concerned about cost, effects on performance, and effects on the bottom line. Compensation managers are concerned about cost and analytics. IT is concerned about security and implementation. Managers are concerned about ease of use. An effective business case should speak to each one of these needs.

Before you start building your business case, ask yourself these questions to determine how you’re going to vet a social recognition solution:

  • What’s your budget for social recognition technology and employee rewards?
  • What pricing model is preferable for your organization?
  • What will implementation require?
  • How will this program align with your other talent initiatives?
  • How will you measure the program’s effect on engagement, retention, and productivity?

When you’re assessing potential solutions, keep in mind that true social recognition is more than just a traditional rewards or incentives program. “Social” recognition involves peer-to-peer acknowledgement, which fosters a sense of community among your teams. Employees are no longer operating in silos, motivated exclusively by large monetary incentives; they’re supporting each other’s accomplishments with public praise and encouragement. This shift in team behavior can transform the culture of your business.

Brandon Hall Group has compiled two independent reports that will give you the tools and information you need to properly vet, pitch, and implement a social recognition solution that will transform your business.

Are you ready to get started? Download their two-part research series right here:

Social Recognition Solutions

4 Links to inspire greatness during employee appreciation week—and all year long

2015_EAW-05What is greatness? Your employees and colleagues are doing great things every day, and the only way to keep them motivated to keep up the great work is to recognize them for it. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start recognizing the greatness in your fellow colleagues today!

As we close out Employee Appreciation Week 2015, here are a few articles to help inspire you to recognize greatness today, and every day!

How to inspire greatness: stop leadingInc.

13 epic battle speeches that will inspire greatnessMashable

These 4 feelings could hold you back from greatnessEntrepreneur

The complexity of greatness: beyond talent or practiceScientific American

 

Have you recognized greatness today?

3 Links to drive results during employee appreciation week—and all year long

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Eventually, it all comes down to results. While the journey is definitely important, it’s also crucial to measure how that journey leads us to success. Recognizing success within your organization has a fantastic side effect; it encourages even more success.

Appreciating employees is an everyday thing here at Achievers, and in honor of Employee Appreciation Week 2015, we thought we’d share some of our favorite links on getting results to inspire recognition—and results—today!

5 Unconventional habits that’ll make you successfulThe Daily Muse

Micro vs macro: Using “success factors” to manage your team99U

7 Scientifically proven ways to achiever better success in lifeInc.

 

How are you recognizing your colleagues for Employee Appreciation Week?

3 reasons your mobile app shouldn’t mirror your desktop application

By Justin Rutherford, National Account Executive, Achievers

mobileA couple of years back, I downloaded one of the most popular CRM apps for iOS thinking this was going to triple my productivity, “Now I can work while on the train to the office. This is awesome!” But I quickly realized the app was less than I’d hoped for. It was clunky and difficult to navigate. After several attempts to squeeze even an ounce of value out of the tool, it was promptly deleted and I haven’t attempted using it since.

Now when prospective customers ask me, “can the Achievers native apps do everything that the desktop version can?” my immediate response is, “Why would you want to burden your employees with that kind of experience?”

And this isn’t unique to this particular company. Many organizations evaluating enterprise applications are overlooking some basic needs for users when determining what to put in front of their employees. Although I’m not a developer, I’ve tested my fair share of apps. As someone who frequently has conversations with HR leaders on the topic, here’s where organizations are missing the mark with their enterprise apps:

1.  Feature overload

Think about the consumer applications that have been wildly successful from the start. Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter. Their focus from day one has been a delightful, wholly native mobile experience. Product design for each is focused on doing one thing really well; sharing photos, newsfeed of mini blog posts respectively. Over the years they’ve compounded their initial success, slowly layering-on features that continue to enhance that experience.

But that isn’t what I experienced with my CRM app. It was packed with “features” that were more congesting than they were useful. Because it was so overloaded, it was frustrating and difficult to navigate.

Ray Wang did a great job cataloging what many of us have experienced with business applications on our mobile devices. He notes that first and second generation mobile experiences failed us,

Instead of crafting new experiences, first and second-generation apps, mostly mimicked the same experiences as the systems of transaction they replaced.

Lightbulb moment. We don’t need everything from desktop versions of software on our apps. If we’re on the move and using our phones, that probably means we just need some of the basics to “get it done.” Look at email apps for example. They’re pretty basic. Read, reply, draft and send. And you know what? That’s all we need when we’re away from our desks. The complicated things can wait until we’re back at our desks.

If enterprise apps released themselves from the shackles of desktop replication, their customers would have a much more productive, enjoyable mobile experience.

2. Utilization and adoption

I can tell you the top five apps that I open up daily, why they fit into my routine, and what value I derive from them personally and socially. Now take a look at what business applications are on your phone today. I’d wager a bet that email is the only one that sees any serious traffic on a regular basis. Why is this?

If a tool isn’t useful to the majority of your workforce, they’re not going to use it. My CRM company didn’t factor in how different users would most value the app, so it was targeted at a small, specific user persona, essentially alienating everyone else—including me.

Take stock of what your employees are using, and figure out how to cater to as many of them as possible. If you’re having trouble identifying value in business apps across the organization, it’s because too few employees are deriving meaningful value from the tools they’re provided.

For HR leaders, the biggest task is to be champions and enablers of culture. A big piece of that monstrous, constantly shifting puzzle—empowering individual contributors and people leaders with the right tools to execute on engagement and leadership strategies. At scale. If what you’re putting in front of them isn’t enabling this to happen, employees will continue to cobble together what they need to get the job done.

If done correctly, utilization and adoption doesn’t become a means to an end for enterprise tools, as in, “I have to use this tool because HR says I have to” but a natural result of users finding the app makes their lives easier.

3. The user experience

In a world of system overload, well documented by Josh Bersin, software tools find they become lost in the mix, plagued with 30% adoption rates across the organization. Demand for employees’ attention comes from so many directions, so when it’s difficult to see immediate value, they’ll quickly move on.

My CRM app was anything but enjoyable to use. I was frustrated with the first tap, and was more inclined to write a scathing review in the App Store than ever use it again. They could learn from companies like Evernote, who continues to deliver a positive user experience. They lured me with it’s simple to use note-taking feature, and over time, I discovered new uses that made the mobile experience uniquely valuable, while also complimenting the broader features and functionality of the desktop version.

Mobile can’t just be a box that’s checked. The user experience must be one that employees want to use because they love the experience—not one they have to use. And the bonus side-effect of loving your mobile app, is that your users are more likely to get attached to the desktop version, too. Win win.

comscoreTalent strategies are quickly becoming people strategies. In the same way, talent focused technologies that are doing it right, are focused on the value the individual user derives from the tool. With mobile usage quickly eclipsing that of desktop, it’s more important than ever to make sure the tools you’re providing to your employees make their work life easy, connected, and seamless.

 

 

 

 

Now when prospective customers ask me, “can the Achievers native apps do everything that the desktop version can?” my immediate response is, “Why would you want to burden your employees with that kind of experience?”

 

To learn more about Achievers’ latest product release, register for our upcoming webinar, or read the press release.

 

JustinJustin shares his passion for talent strategies that deliver an employee first experience as a National Account Executive for Achievers. When he’s not poring over the latest analyst reports, Justin devotes a significant portion of his free time eating all the great food San Francisco has to offer. You can find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Links to inspire leadership during employee appreciation week—and all year long

2015_EAW-03

A good leader can make all the difference in a team’s success—and longevity. And one key to encouraging a culture of recognition lies within your leaders. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, too—they’re not just managers.

Appreciating employees is an everyday thing here at Achievers, and in honor of Employee Appreciation Week 2015, we thought we’d share some of our favorite links on leadership to inspire recognition—and leadership—today!

Between Venus and Mars: 7 traits of true leadersInc.

Become a better leader by thinking like Swiss cheeseLifehacker

You don’t have to be a CEO to develop leadership qualitiesEntreprenuer

5 Ways to transform yourself into a leaderThe Daily Muse

 

How are you recognizing your colleagues for Employee Appreciation Week?

 

4 Links to inspire collaboration during employee appreciation week—and all year long

2015_EAW-02Put a few great minds in a room together and see what happens. You already have talented, motivated, and creative talent in your organization. What do you think will result when you encourage them to collaborate in new ways?

Appreciating employees is an everyday thing here at Achievers, so in honor of Employee Appreciation Week 2015, we thought we’d share some of our favorite links on collaboration to inspire recognition—and collaboration—today!

 

 

 

 

 

Are you a collaborative leader?Harvard Business Review

What jazz soloists know about creative collaboration99U

Thomas Edison’s keys to managing team collaborationFastCompmany

Standing improves group collaborationMashable

 

How are you recognizing your colleagues for employee appreciation week?

 

 

 

 

4 Links to inspire innovation during employee appreciation week—and all year long

2015_EAW-01Innovation is all around us, yet it’s not always so easy to uncover. Organizations have the opportunity every day to promote a culture of recognition and inspire innovation from employees.

Appreciating employees is an everyday thing here at Achievers, so in honor of Employee Appreciation Week 2015, we thought we’d share some of our favorite links on innovation to inspire recognition—and innovation—today!

 

 

 

 

How are you recognizing your colleagues for Employee Appreciation Week?