Has anyone ever told you, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”?

Though unfair, this famous proverb can perfectly be applied to the current state of the remote work situation. 

How so, you ask?

First, the cake. The option for many employees to work from home appears to be staying strong now and into the near future. Too many employees want the home-office opportunity and the hiring demand from companies is high. Given the limited amount of qualified candidates in the labour market, coupled with companies desperately looking to hire, employers will need to continue to offer a remote working option if it gives them the advantage in securing top talent.

In a recent survey conducted by Forge Recruitment, we found that the vast majority of employees (91%) prefer to work from home.  Employers have listened, as we have also found that 73% of companies now offer some form of hybrid work arrangement. Fantastic! We now know that the majority of work-from-home demands are being met- so, what’s the problem?

This leads to our second point, the eating of the cake.  Despite having the opportunity to work remotely, we have found that employees’ levels of engagement with their colleagues have fallen.  In our latest report, Inside the Recruiter's Room, 2023 edition, we found that employees' biggest challenges while working from home were a lack of engagement with their colleagues and the inability to disconnect from work after hours. 

Over one-third (34%) of respondents noted that their job satisfaction and company engagement decreased in the past 12 months.  Nearly half (49%) of employees reported feeling disengaged with their current company and unsatisfied with their current job.

Unfortunately, this lack of engagement is not only being perceived by employees.  We found that 63% of employers also found that remote work's biggest challenge was maintaining their company culture and employee engagement.

So, while the work-from-home cake is being offered, an adverse effect is being felt.  As this lack of engagement negatively impacts employees, the onus shifts to employers to rectify the situation. 

Why is this?  Because as employee engagement falls, so does employee retention.  Those employees feeling less engaged will begin to explore new job opportunities. 

If left unresolved, your employees will ultimately move to companies that have best adapted at providing both the cake, remote work, and the ability to eat it, high levels of employee engagement. 

Therefore, the question to employers becomes, "How do we provide the opportunity to work from home while elevating employee engagement?"

Forge Recruitment has always offered its employees a remote working arrangement.  However, employee engagement has always been top of mind since day one. We have been challenged with the paradox from the beginning, and we have experimented with it, quite a lot. 

To encourage engagement, we are always asking ourselves:

While we are far from perfecting how we operate, after several years, we now have systems, processes, and a culture that we feel allows for remote work, with engaged employees. It is often the “company culture” that our employees stress they love the most about Forge!

Here is what we have implemented to aid with our employee engagement. 

Interactive Onboarding – During onboarding, our new employees meet virtually with each member of our team and receive training sessions from various subject matter experts within our business.

Regular Team Meetings – Regular video meetings, either weekly or bi-weekly, to ensure that each team is on the same page.

End-of-month In-person Office Days – While we are 99% remote, we do meet in-office once per month.  This gives everyone an opportunity to work together and socialize in person.

Monthly Team Workshops – A subject matter expert within our organization will lead an interactive training session for other members of the business. 

Job Shadowing – Provide an opportunity for one of our employees who is considering a role change or nearing a promotion to spend some time and observe a colleague who is currently in that role.

Peer-to-Peer Mentorship – Members who work in similar roles but on different teams meet once per month to discuss wins, challenges, tips, etc. 

Wellness Wednesday – Once per month, we take time out of the day to unplug from work and focus on our mental health.  This ranges from group yoga sessions to smoothie-making to volunteering.

Company Socials – Twice per year Forge holds large company socials where the entire business comes together with their families to celebrate successes.

Much of our focus centers on coming together and learning from one another.  We find this strengthens our team bond while also allowing others to make valuable contributions to the business by helping others. 

The proverb states, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”, but who wants the cake anyways, if you can’t fully enjoy it?  

Therefore, if you offer remote work, it is a wise idea to ensure that you take the necessary steps to address the challenges created by the remote working arrangement. 

Ultimately, in the long run, doing so will give you the advantage in attracting and retaining the top talent you need to help your organization get to where it needs to go. 

For more findings from Forge Recruitment’s annual report, Inside the Recruiter’s Room, 2023 Edition, and our annual Salary Guide, be sure to visit our website, www.forgerecruitment.com, to secure your free copy. 

Author: Joncarlo Bairos

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