Evolve | The Global Remote Employee Lifecycle: How Can Companies Encourage Retention from Day One?

 Evolve | The Global Remote Employee Lifecycle: How Can Companies Encourage Retention from Day One?

The Global Remote Employee Lifecycle: How Can Companies Encourage Retention from Day One?

During this Panel, moderated by Allie Kovalik, Community & Culture Manager at Globalization Partners, and with the participation of Tim Sanders, Vice President of Customer Insights, Upwork (a world-leading work marketplace where companies engage with freelancers and contractors to get work done remotely), and Brennan McEachran, CEO & Co-founder, Hypercontext (an app for managers that helps run more effective meetings), we learned that the world has changed and the tables have turned when it comes to hiring, retaining employees, and onboarding them. 

March of last year, “the great remote work experiment” started — as Sanders calls it — and people went from working at an office, or at least having one they could go to, to working from anywhere, anytime. This changed the flexibility paradigm, and the talent became more in charge of their own employment conditions.

This change in structure can be seen in recent research on “the great resignation” done by Sanders’ organization, which showed “Ten percent of all people saying they are considering leaving their jobs are going to consider freelancing as their new career option. That is the latest change.” How companies respond to this will be key to the future of work. 

When talking about talent and where to find it, McEachran questioned his former approach: “Were we really hiring the best talent in the world before, or were we actually only hiring talent that was only a couple of kilometers, miles from the office? And all of the sudden you go: There are great people all over the place, and now we have access to them.” 

But he also emphasized that having access to a deeper international talent pool is a double-edged sword: “The downside of that [being able to hire anyone from anywhere] is that you have Facebook doing the same thing, who are now in Toronto looking at our talent”. So, now the real question is: “How do we retain the team we currently have because they are being looked at by the rest of the world now?”

This moment allowed our moderator to jump right into the next big question:

What must a remote, global employee onboarding process include to set employees up for long-term success, and to support retention? 

Both Sanders and McEachran agreed that new employees’ managers are the key, and they should be in charge of hiring the new talent. They are who the employees are going to report to, they are the ones who care the most, and they should be able to evaluate the talent and actively participate in hiring decisions.

McEachran was very explicit about the importance of onboarding — a process that starts even before the hiring date. Finding that talent is now easier because the borders are wide open. 

“There are billions of people in the world. The odds of you finding someone who wants to do exactly the job you have on your team and is really good at it, it’s actually pretty high now … Let’s not find someone who will do the job, but let’s find someone who wants to do this exact job and knows how to do this exact job, and wants to grow in the way we can give them room, and that makes onboarding a lot easier,” said McEachran. 

Sanders went even further: “I think that talent is everyone’s job. In the 1980s, quality was everyone’s job; in the 1990s, marketing was everyone’s job; in the 2000s, community was everybody’s job. Today, talent is everybody’s job.” He added that the hiring manager is the person who knows exactly “what it takes to get from zero to one.” 

“Joining a new company is exhilarating when you accept the offer, and it’s excruciating the first 90 days”  — Tim Sanders, VP of Customer Insights, Upwork.

“There’s a difference between pandemic remote and just remote.” 

Something we can’t ignore is burnout, which is not just a buzzword but something very real, and is affecting a lot of workers nowadays. 

McEachran shared an interesting statistic: People are spending an average of two extra hours working every day, yet they are receiving the same amount of work, and producing the same output. People are taking fewer breaks while juggling work, and dealing with a pandemic, children at home, emotional stress, and so on. It is impossible to ignore the circumstances, and managers need to work on this as well. 

“Let’s not push our employees to the point where they are burned out; push your employees to the point where they are able to run a race if needed,” said McEachran.

Sanders added how managers need to work upstream and design a strategy to avoid burnout. “Burnout prevention is a designed challenge, not a coaching discussion. By the time you are coaching people, they’re in stage three or four. They’re gone,” explained Sanders. 

Managers need to “set a culture of signing off” and “co-author the workflow,” in order for everyone to have the time to balance work and life, said Sanders. 

What role does technology play when making human connections in the modern workforce?

Technology can help to create real human connections. After all, people are falling in love via technology, and that’s as deep as personal connections go, joked McEachran. Kids are playing online games and building real friendships through technology — but in the work world, he continued, you need to really invest in technology. Forgoing the traditional office is not just about saving money, because you have to put that money into the new ways of connecting remotely. 

For Sanders, managers need to be authentic and really pay attention. When having team meetings or one-on-ones they need to really be there and avoid distractions: Don’t use your phone, don’t answer an email, turn off Slack notifications — be present. Sanders mentioned that research shows people pay more attention when they’re talking on the phone versus the computer.

“Downscale technology and upscale how much you care and how willing you are to be in the moment and present with people,” Sanders concluded. 

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