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Hiring and retaining excellent employees is a top priority for all businesses. And for top talent today, when looking to accept a job offer or stay with a company, more are searching for roles that lend themselves to flexible work.

The way we work is changing. We are beginning to see the move from nine-to-five in-office schedules towards something more fluid, where employees have the power and responsibility to choose when and where they work. As a consequence of this, more businesses than ever are looking to adopt a flexible working model. 

For many, the benefits are substantial—more time for oneself, families, hobbies. The possibility of flexibility enriches workforces. In a recent survey, 63 percent of job seekers didn't feel they needed to be sitting at their desks to get their work done. In addition, the freedom employees achieve can deliver higher job satisfaction and reduce turnover among staff.

So, if you are curious about the possibility of flexible work and how to implement such a model, this article will help you better understand what it entails. By delving into how you can recruit and best manage your flexible teams, we will be looking at:

  • How to design a flexible recruitment policy that attracts suitable candidates, as well as ensuring they understand your expectations
  • Additionally, we will explore how to manage your flexible employees best. And how you can support their onboarding, improve engagement and celebrate the contributions of your flexible workers to the organization.

How to recruit the right employees for flexible work

To navigate a highly competitive labor market, you need to find your points of difference. And flexible work is one of these. LinkedIn has reported a 60% increase in searches for 'remote work' and a 189% growth in applications for these positions.

So, communicate your flexible working policy through recruiting marketing, job descriptions and company media. Drawing attention to this aspect of your organization can allow you to spark interest, lead to further engagement and hopefully win talent that previously may have been out of reach and build a diverse workforce.

What candidates need to know about your flexible working model

However, whilst advertising your working model, you must also outline your expectations of new hires working flexibly.

For example, what does the role entail, your goals and policies around flexibility, and explain the level of autonomy they will receive. Communicating these aspects of your flexible work policy ensures no illusions among potential candidates.

Your staff and potential new hires must understand your vision of flexible work. Otherwise, performance can suffer, and the bottom line can be affected. 

When we are clear with what we are going into, we can be at our best. But, on the other hand, if new hires leave after a year because they didn't enjoy working flexibly, it can be expensive and time consuming for your business. 

So, you must ensure that candidates understand the type of company you are. Then, if they are suited to the autonomy and independence you offer, they will apply for your roles.

How to retain and grow with a flexible workforce

When you oversee remote employees with alternate schedules, it requires a different type of support than in an office. It requires different communication methods to track productivity and keep employees accountable.

To ensure you retain your flexible workforce, you need to have clear structures in place to support them.


Onboarding flexible employees

The first few months in any job is critical. It is the time to show new hires the ropes, running them through your projects, platforms and company culture. An effective onboarding process is vital to retaining staff, especially when your teams work flexibly.

With a workforce situated in different locations, onboarding can be more of a challenge. So, you must help them get up to speed and feel comfortable in their new surroundings. If not, they may feel disconnected from their job, leading them to quit soon after accepting the position.

By structuring your new hires' first few weeks, you can help them become more confident in your working style. This can be done through:

  • Delivering a warm welcome
  • Ensuring all log-ins, processes and tools they require are ready from day one
  • Regular meetings to discuss work and give them a chance to get to know their teammates
  •  Furthermore, as a manager, letting your new hires know that you are easily accessible and ready to discuss any questions they may have can be a reassurance. 

Although physically distant, you need to deliver an excellent onboarding process to help new hires feel connected to your organization. It can determine the nature of the employee's relationship with the company and whether they made the right decision.

The work done in making new hires feel a part of the organization can go a long way to your future success.

The importance of a remote company culture

Just because your team isn't physically together Monday to Friday doesn't mean you abandon company culture. On the contrary, for 3 in 5 employees and job seekers, company culture is one of the main reasons to stay at a job. So, to retain flexible employees, you must create a stimulating remote culture that people can identify with.

Although it may be harder to fuse the nature of flexible work with the closeness that an office environment can create, there are ways of creating a great working environment for a remote workforce, including:

  • Regular meet-ups online and in-person
  •  Team lunches
  •  Friday drinks. 

The mix of online and physical events and socializing help boost morale and enhance the connection between individuals.

Employees seek out and stay with organizations with excellent workplace cultures. Whether in an office environment or working from home, increased social engagement and feelings of inclusion can help employees feel part of something bigger.

The ability to connect wherever you are in the world

To have a successful flexible working organization, you need the right tools for effective communication. 

As flexible work means more varied schedules, there is a risk that conversations only occur if it is work-related. However, to ensure workplace culture isn't damaged and employees don't feel isolated, the opportunity to connect is vital.

Without adding pressure onto employees to be reachable or responsive 24/7, the use of channels like WhatsApp, Slack and Teams, and the regular occurrence of social meetings can encourage collaboration and social engagement throughout your organization. 

The chance to replicate the office water cooler moments online can help employees build connections. For example, women that have a best friend at work are twice as likely to be involved with their jobs in contrast to those who don't. So, building these social interactions into the infrastructure of the workday can go a long way in ensuring the retainment of talented, dedicated employees.

Flexible work, by its very nature, lends itself to independence. But by providing the tools to connect your teams, you can help them feel part of something, rather than a solitary component, so they know they are in the right place.

Celebrate the big wins and the little steps forward

There is nothing like feeling appreciated for your efforts and contributions. Recognizing employees for great work is vital in improving their morale and driving them to deliver better work.

When employees work flexibly, celebrating achievement can take a little more time and effort than walking over to their desks. But that shouldn't stop you. To celebrate your flexible employee's hard work, you should:

  • When someone has done something great, always offer your gratitude and praise for their efforts.
  • Public announcements. You must spread the word about positive achievement. Whether through the company email or during online meetings, let others know. Hopefully, it can act as motivation for the rest of your team.
  • Explain the bigger picture. Draw parallels to how the achievement of employees helps the company with its broader goals. As a result, they know that their work matters.
  • Say well done through treats. Whether it is an individual success or a team effort, the giving of rewards can last long in the memory, and the opportunity to go out for lunch, tickets to events, can build closer connections between your employees through socializing.

Appreciation and recognition go a long way. When flexible employees know that their work has a purpose, they are happy to come to work each day. When they are celebrated for their hard work, they know they are in the right company.

How to successfully recruit and retain an excellent flexible workforce

Flexible work is here to stay. And so, companies must build a flexible working model that attracts outstanding talent and can offer control and an improvement to the work-life balance that is so important to people today.

Simply offering flexible work won't win you top talent and help you keep it; it is what comes with it that counts. And although individual and business needs may vary, it requires dedicated management to maintain the employee's productivity, sense of job satisfaction and connection to the broader organization.

To attract and retain flexible employees, you should consider:

  • Communicate your flexible working policy through your recruitment marketing and media to grow interest in your roles and company
  • Explain the vision of your flexible work model, so prospective candidates know your expectations and are under no illusion of how it works.
  • To help the retainment of excellent talent deliver a comprehensive onboarding experience that supports their adjustment to new surroundings and build immediate connections.
  • Take pride and effort in building a remote working culture. Which in turn can grow engagement and investment in the role
  • Support your employees' efforts to build connections with one another. Provide communication tools to develop a sense of togetherness among your teams
  • Recognize the achievements of your flexible staff. By helping them see their contribution to the wider company, employees can grasp how integral they are to organizational success.

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