Motivating a Remote Workforce: 4 Strategies

By the time you read this, we’ll be almost three months from the start of safe-at-home orders and also well on our way to seeing Southern California “reopen.”

Yet many companies will still be asking employees to work from home. Because their team members have been working remotely for weeks now, managers no doubt have the management part down pretty well.

But what about motivating remote workers?

The “adventure” of working from home wore off long ago. Many people also are managing young children while working and – as summer approaches – may no longer need to supervise their schoolwork, but will have to figure out how to wrangle their children during a summer with “nothing to do.”

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Even your employees without children no doubt are well into the work-from-home doldrums: tired of Zoom. Tired of working from the kitchen table. Tired of not having in-person interactions. Tired of not heading out with the gang to lunch. Fed up with #doomscrolling the Internet during breaks.

Work-from-home exhaustion is a real thing. If you’ve noticed that your workers – or even yourself – are less motivated than normal, is it really any wonder?

Motivating remote workers: 4 strategies

  1. Create routines. That could mean regularly scheduled meetings.

Yes, this means yet more video meetings! But when working from home – which often means employees have a lot more flexibility as to when they get work done – having set meetings and/or check-ins truly can help provide your employees with a sense of normalcy.

Regularly scheduled meetings also help employees stay on track regarding deadlines and helps keep communication among team managers flowing.

  1. Speaking of communication, make sure you do so regularly. And possibly more often than you “normally” do.

Remote work can be quite isolating, especially if employees don’t hear from management/leadership. Make sure everyone on your team knows your priorities because doing so helps them understand the ultimate reasons for their work while helping them stay productive. What’s more – and perhaps most importantly – regular communication, whether in formal email memos or simple quick messages or even calls – reassures members of your team that their efforts are valued.

Understand that good communication needs to go both ways. Welcome messages and input from everyone, no matter where they are on the org chart. You’ll be amazed at the great insights that come from diverse perspectives. This will only help nurture better communications and help your employees achieve their goals.

  1. Set a regular “quitting time” for the day and stick to it.

No doubt you and your workers have found how “easy” it is to work just about any time of day…or night. Chances also are good you – and your employees – may find yourself working 10 or even 12 or more hours a day because you can, a true recipe for quick burnout.

Making – and keeping – set work hours helps prevent days from melding into each other and helps you and your workers have true “work time” as well as real “downtime,” delineations that have become ever more critical for optimum health and productivity.

  1. Stay positive and create a culture of support.

Forrester Research has found that workplace culture is one of the most critical parts of a successful remote work strategy because workers who feel they can be who they really are and who believe they truly are part of a supportive team are more likely to feel motivated.

Showing compassion and concern for everyone you work with while also remaining positive as their leader is absolutely the best course to follow in these unusual times.

Contact the Helpmates branch nearest you for more information on our staffing/recruiting services. You also may call our corporate office at 949-752-6888.

Recruiting Has Changed Forever (Even Once the Pandemic Ends)

Recruiting Has Changed Forever (Even After the Pandemic Ends)

As we enter week five of California’s “stay-at-home” order we’ve noticed some major changes in recruiting:

  • Video interviewing
  • Many job openings turning from working at the employer’s location to working at home.
  • Thousands of businesses closed and millions of people laid off.

And while we all look forward – do we EVER! – to social distancing restrictions easing, there are some things about recruiting that may never change.

Here are a few of the current recruiting processes and habits we feel will continue, and why

  • Job interviews via video

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Interviewing via video was growing considerably before the pandemic. (It actually became popular during the last downturn in 2008.) It’s pretty much standard operating procedure for all job interviews now and we don’t see it changing much moving forward.

This will be especially so for screening interviews and possibly even for first “in person” interviews.

We also think the use of psychometric testing will grow as a way to screen candidates (in order to cut back on unnecessary interviews).

(An additional interesting side note: staffing and recruiting companies may start training their candidates for these “new” types of interviews as part of their work to ready their candidates for interviews with the recruiting agency’s clients.)

  • It will remain a candidate’s market for highly skilled workers; an employer’s market for lower-skilled positions.

It’s pretty much an employer’s market now as many businesses have closed and millions of workers have lost their jobs. But that may change as hiring needs grow back….for those with highly sought-after skills such as those in healthcare, tech, engineering and highly-skilled manufacturing and possibly even in construction.

But lower-skilled positions such as clerical, distribution, customer service, janitorial, caregiving, etc.? We think the market for these positions may turn from a candidate’s to an employer’s, even after the economy recovers.

  • All of us will think of work and careers differently.

Many of us – both employers and workers – will discover that we can work for home. This can turn into a great way to reclaim some work-life balance for overly stressed employees.

The pandemic also is making us think far differently regarding how our work lives and our home lives mix….or how well they don’t. We may rethink the entire concept of career such that working 10 or 12 hours a day and being always available so that we can “get ahead” at the expense of our families and our own health no longer appeals to many of us.

As we stay at home, not able to go anywhere or do much of anything except work from home, shop for food, help our kids with school work, etc. could mean we realize how little in consumer goods and the “next big thing” we truly need in order to be happy. Many of us may turn down positions that “require” work hours beyond 40 a week.

Only time – and the pandemic’s trajectory – will tell, of course. But the integration of work with a rich home life well could become the new “must have” for many of us.

How can we help you recruit and interview remotely?

Got Ghosts? Here’s How to Bust Them

A turbocharged economy has drastically reduced unemployment and created a buyer’s market for jobs. This state of affairs has given rise to a new phenomenon in recruiting, and a new word has entered the recruiting lexicon to describe it: ghosting.

It happens when a job candidate – or even someone who’s accepted your job offer – simply drops from sight. They’ve become a ghost.

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It can happen at any stage of the recruiting process.

  • The recruiter may try to get in touch with the person without any response. No return call. Nothing.
  • Or the person may be scheduled for a job interview and not show up. No notice, no explanation. Again, simply dropping from sight.
  • Or the person may actually be hired but fail to show up for their first day of work. Here again, there is no warning, no communication. The person just disappears.

It’s happening more often because there is such a labor crunch. Employers are struggling more than ever to find qualified people. As a result, top people are often receiving more than one offer. They have options. And, although it may not be the most professional approach, some have a cavalier attitude toward employers, dropping them without a second thought if something better comes along.

If you are an employer, what can you do so that you don’t fall victim to ghosting? Simply put, you need to take care of your job candidates. They need to feel that the company values them and their time. They need to be treated well, just like a customer.

Communication is important. The company needs to stay in contact with candidates and keep them up to date on status status – where they stand in relation to other applicants, what comes next in the process and when, how long the whole thing is expected to take.

Companies can no longer afford to keep candidates in the dark or impose on their time by dragging out the hiring process. If a firm does this, top prospects will simply go elsewhere. It’s all about giving job candidates a good experience.

To begin with, you need to reexamine every step of the hiring process, from the time a job candidate makes first contact, through the interviewing process and onboarding.

  1. Recruiting

To prevent ghosting, you need to attract candidates who are a good fit for the job. So you need to make sure your job descriptions are current and accurately describe the kinds of skills and experience needed to be successful. Skip the boilerplate and describe what is really involved in the job.

  1. Interviewing

Hiring managers need to prepare for the interview just like candidates. First of all, hiring managers need to be clear exactly what skills, knowledge and experience they’re looking for and interview questions should reflect that so that they produce the information needed. All of the candidates should answer the same questions to provide a basis for comparison.

Hiring managers also need to ask questions about company culture and soft skills, the person’s ability to communicate, collaborate, their work ethic, and resilience.

Doing all of this will help ensure that you find candidates who are a good fit for the job and the culture, which will make it less likely that they’ll ghost you.

  1. Onboarding

The onboarding process should give new hires the orientation they need to make a good start at the company. That means welcoming them, introducing them to people in their department, reviewing the duties and expectations of the job, preparing their workspace with everything they will need, and being available to answer questions or concerns they may have.

  1. Employee engagement

Ghosting also occurs after an employee has been working with you for awhile. If you have employees who are engaged and excited about their work, there is little chance they will leave without notice (ghost). To cultivate engaged employees, you need to show you value them and their work. Younger workers, especially millennials, want frequent feedback on how they are doing and what they need to work on.

To improve employee engagement, you need to recognize employees for their work and reward it, provide opportunities for growth in their careers and offer training opportunities, such as mentoring.

All of these things will make for employees who enjoy their work, thus helping you retain them.

Have you just been ghosted? Need to “bust” that departure quickly? Then call Helpmates! We can have one of our associates with the skills you need at your location quickly….and ready to get to work! Contact the Helpmates branch nearest you for more information.

Having Difficult Conversations….with Your Boss

It’s natural – so work hierarchy goes – for a supervisor to call in a subordinate and have that conversation:

  • You’re performance has been lacking lately.
  • You come in to work late too often.
  • You’ve missed two project deadlines in the last month.
  • And so on.

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But sometimes it’s the subordinate who needs to bring up a difficult topic with the boss:

  • I’ve noticed you didn’t assign me to the new project.
  • You provided me only a “meets expectations” rating on my annual review and I disagree with your assessment.
  • You refused to let me take Friday off when I worked the last three Saturdays in a row.
  • And so on.

Notice all the topics mentioned above have to do with the employee’s performance. Many people may be wary of bringing up such things to a manager: “If the manager had an issue with me, surely she would bring it up? No news is good news, right?”

No.

Being proactive in all things that have to do with your performance always is best when it comes to succeeding on the job and in your career. Speaking up in a professional, respectful manner puts you on a more even footing with a supervisor and helps the esteem a manager feels for you rise.

In addition, mentioning something that troubles you about your manager’s interactions with you allows you to find out if your boss does have an issue, or – and far more likely – discover that the “new” way of interacting with you is a fluke: the boss was distracted,  worried, stressed, etc.

Still, bringing it up is a very good thing. You may not want to do so at the first instance of a change in your manager’s interactions with you, but if it continues, gird yourself and ask.

Here’s how to have this conversation.

  1. Ask for permission to meet. When your boss appears calm and open, ask to meet to discuss. You should be somewhat specific, but don’t go into detail: “I’d like to discuss my review.” “I’d like to ask you something I’ve been wondering about.” And so on. You also can request a meeting in an email. Regardless of which method you choose, make it a brief request.
  2. Be clear. Don’t go into detail. Don’t whine: “I gave up three Saturdays to work here because I knew how important this project is for you. You mentioned a couple of weeks ago I could take a Friday off. Yet when I asked Wednesday, you said no. May I ask why?”
  3. Ask for your manager’s perspective. “I don’t remember any negative aspects of my review. Perhaps I missed something?” Or “Did something come up of which I’m not aware?”
  4. Listen closely and ask questions. If you’re confused about something, ask for clarification Remember, don’t whine/complain. Don’t make excuses. Explain your thinking in more detail but don’t become defensive.
  5. The goal isn’t for you to “win” and your manager to “lose.” Instead, your goal should be to arrive at a resolution about which both of you will be satisfied. For example, perhaps your boss gave you only a “meets expectations” rating because she believes your work has been better in the past and she noticed a decline. The two of you could work out an agreement that if your performance rises back to its previous level by a certain date, she will change her assessment to “exceeds expectations.”

Yes, chances are good you’re going to feel uncomfortable asking for a meeting/during the meeting.  But careers are made and broken on one’s ability – or lack of – to have difficult discussions. Look at this as an opportunity to exercise your ability to deal with discomfort.

When looking for a new job or career, check out the opportunities here at Helpmates. For more information on how we can help you find work, contact the branch office nearest you.

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