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How to use unified communication tools to support better employee engagement

July 21, 2016 by Nell Thayer Heisner

Employees that feel more connected to each other and their employer stay longer

Businesses invest the most capital in two things: their real estate and their people. This means that physical office spaces and hiring/onboarding practices are not only top priorities, but also large fixed costs, as well. As the standard workplace shifts to a more flexible model, companies are beginning to change the way they view and address both by embracing remote work policies and downsizing their physical spaces.

What are some ways HR professionals can be responsive to these trends to recruit and retain top talent? Here are three tips to keep in mind:

  • Focus Recruiting on Retention

Let’s face it, hiring new talent is expensive and time consuming. And hiring is only half the battle: keeping them around is what makes the upfront investment worthwhile. Employee attrition is costly, as well: according to a Global Workplace Analytics study, losing a valued employee can cost an employer $10,000 to $30,000.

Knowing that employees who feel connected to their co-workers and the company itself are less likely to switch jobs – increasing the organization’s retention rate and lowering costs needed to support heavy turnover – companies need to take a good look at the technology tools and practices that support employee connectivity, so that workers’ needs are still at the forefront despite nontraditional work spaces and policies.

  • Embrace the distributed workforce

The distributed workforce is becoming more and more appealing from both a financial and operational standpoint. Giving employees the ability to telecommute (even half of the time) can save a company $11,000 per person per year. Additionally, 95 percent of employees say telework has a high impact on their job satisfaction, and over two-thirds of employers in a recent survey actually reported increased productivity among telecommuters.

To make day-to-day work run more smoothly regardless of where workers are “punching in,” it’s important that employees are able to seamlessly transition from one communication method to another. A chat tool may be the best fit for quick questions or thoughts, while video conferencing is more suitable for conversations that will benefit from face-to-face communication. Real-time interaction that emulates in-office behaviors and collaboration makes remote work more feasible and productive.

  • Leverage communication tools to break down geographic barriers

Over 40 percent of employers are reportedly feeling the “labor pinch” as baby boomers retire, creating a need to reduce geographic limitations when hiring. This is especially true when it comes to the younger workforce (ages 20-29) who reportedly have the highest migration rate of any group (U.S. Census Bureau). HR professionals are realizing that sometimes the best talent isn’t located where they are, and are starting to hire people where they live, instead – regardless of proximity to HQ – and offering remote work as an option.

Despite the new freedom to hire across expansive geographic locations, in-person face time is still important to establish rapport between teammates, maintain employee morale and develop a strong workplace community. Given that 90 percent of communication is non-verbal, companies need to invest in technology tools to extend opportunities to bring the “office water cooler” to distributed workers.

Making it easy to work remotely and feel connected

As the modern workplace rapidly changes, a flexible environment is becoming a “must have” for prospective employees looking for work-life balance. Above all, companies need to make it easy for people to work remotely, providing mobile employees with technology that is on par with what they use in their personal lives and that is centered around their specific needs. The right technology will make sure your employees are connected to each other and their work, leading to greater job satisfaction. In turn, happier, more satisfied employees lead to better retention – a signal that you’ve made the right investments for the health of your business, overall.

This blog was adapted from an article that originally appeared on entitled, “Do You Have the Tools to Make Remote Workers Feel Connected?”. Click here to read the full article.

Nell Thayer Heisner
Nell Thayer Heisner
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