5 Ways to Retain Your Employees in 2020

With very few exceptions, running a successful business means having employees. Employees are the backbone of any business, no matter the industry and no matter the size. Once you’ve gone to the trouble of finding the right employees for your business, how do you keep them?

1. Ask

How do you know what your employees need in order to keep them showing up every day, ready to work? There’s one very simple way to find out—ask them.

Foster an attitude of open communication between you and your employees. If you have managers, make sure that they are encouraging communication with those they supervise. Conduct “stay” interviews with employees, and find out the things that keep your employees coming back every day. Ask things like, Why do you like working here? What can we improve for you? Both new and established employees can help you pinpoint problems. 

If you’re worried about not getting truthful answers or employees telling you what they think you want to hear, ask them to fill out an anonymous survey, which allows them to share their suggestions without fear of repercussions. 

2. Listen

The second part of asking your employees for feedback is to show that you’ve heard them. Take action to prove that you’ve heard and understood the challenges facing your employees. According to the Wrike Employee Engagement Survey, only 59% of the 5000+ survey participants said their company conducted regular engagement surveys. Of that 59%, only half felt that their company acted on employee feedback. 

Did your employees ask for more flexible work schedules? See if there are ways to allow employees to work from home. Are your hourly employees struggling to juggle their schedules? Work to keep their hours more consistent.

Is there a manager who is hurting your employees’ ability to do their best work? Have a difficult conversation, and find ways to solve the problem. Are there repetitive tasks in your employees’ days that could be automated? Are they struggling to work with outdated software or tools? Time spent struggling with outdated tools is time that isn’t being spent building your business. 

3. Recognize

Find ways to recognize the hard work of your employees. Take time during staff meetings to recognize successes both big and small on your team. If you don’t already, train yourself and your managers to verbally thank and congratulate employees for the success of the company.

Don’t forget the power of peer-to-peer recognition. For example, JetBlue has implemented a peer-recognition program allowing employees to nominate one another for either everyday excellence or for an extraordinary case of going above and beyond. Nominated employees receive recognition in an internal newsfeed and earn credits that can be redeemed for rewards of their choice ranging from dinner to cruises. While that program may be beyond the reach of most small businesses, the idea of peer nomination, internal recognition, and employee-chosen rewards is not. 

4. Develop

If you want employees to invest in your company, lead by example and invest in them first. Promote from within whenever possible. At the very least, offer employees the chance at advancement before turning to outside sources. Take a look at who you promote and why—imagine you are accountable to someone outside your business and make sure you can justify your decision. 

Prove to your employees that you see their hard work and are willing to invest in their long-term growth by offering career development opportunities. Whether you hold these in-house, pay for an employee to attend a conference in your industry, or offer tuition help for those pursuing a degree, showing that your business is invested financially fosters employee loyalty and retention. 

5. Celebrate

Look at any calendar—you’ll notice that almost every month has a reason to celebrate. It’s human nature to look for reasons to celebrate, and the business world is no different. Find ways to celebrate both big and small milestones. Celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, making it to the end of a hard week, the first day of spring, Earth Day, the leaves changing in the fall, landing a new account. Whatever the reason to celebrate, include every employee possible and lead by example.

Celebrations give employees something to look forward to, whether it is a company-wide celebration or an individual accomplishment. Anniversaries are a perfect time to celebrate the loyalty of your employees, so mark the occasion in a way that fits your business’s personality and budget. A gift card to a local coffee shop or restaurant, a bottle of wine, or an additional paid day off are low-cost ways to celebrate your employees. Even if it’s just a hand-written card, a little appreciation can go a long way.

Derek Miller is a writer specializing in entrepreneurship, small business, and digital marketing. His work has featured in sites like Entrepreneur, GoDaddy, Score.org, and StartupCamp. He’s currently the CMO of Smack Apparel, the content guru at Great.com, and a marketing consultant for small businesses.

Office Trends That Are Taking Off in 2020

The modern workplace is constantly evolving, and unforeseen circumstances can perpetuate change faster. 

For example, many organizations were already using messaging and video apps like Slack and Zoom before the COVID-19 pandemic, and now that most businesses are working remotely, the adoption of these virtual communication tools is growing exponentially.  

Even before the coronavirus outbreak, companies were embracing flexible work schedules with remote opportunities as part of a larger employee-centric movement. Businesses were prioritizing employee satisfaction and company culture to mitigate turnover and increase productivity.

While there’s no way to predict what will happen in the coming months, here’s a closer look at 5 trends taking off in the workplace and how they’ll impact businesses in 2020.

More Companies Will Offer Flexible Work Schedules

No employee is the same—we all have personal priorities and preferences. Maybe you’re an early bird who enjoys working before the sun rises, or maybe you focus best in the evening after you put the kids to bed.

Employees have their own schedules, and it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to conform their lives to the traditional, outdated 9-to-5 mentality. In fact, many studies have concluded that the average person is only productive for three hours of an eight-hour workday. 

The desire for flexibility has reached management’s ears, with many companies offering flexible work schedules to their team members. While businesses might not be ready to embrace the drastic four-hour workweek movement, they are offering flex-schedules.

With flexible schedules, employees can dictate their workdays around their lives or preferences, as long as they meet their hourly or quota requirements. This approach could include working four 10-hour days and taking Friday off, working from home on Monday and Friday, or any other combination of hours and days.

If you decide to offer flex-schedules within your company, consider setting up an infrastructure for your team members. Ask employees to stick to the schedule of their choice—that way, employees can coordinate their communications accordingly. 

Companies Will Invest in Employee Well-Being

In recent years, businesses were moving into dangerous territories as technology made it possible for companies to push the boundaries between work and personal. 

Side-hustling, digital entrepreneurship, and the “startup lifestyle” were glorifying employee burnout. Employees were encouraged to check and respond to work emails while off the clock. Managers expected staff to work late into the night, even at home, to complete deadlines. 

While there is still pressure in the workplace, more employers are focusing on employee well-being. This shift includes emphasizing work-life balance and considering the environment that teams work in. 

This focus on well-being follows the simple belief that happy, healthy employees are more productive. You make fewer mistakes if you aren’t exhausted. You are willing to take on more if you don’t feel overworked. 

Consider the work-life balance and overall well-being of your team to improve their productivity and increase their loyalty to your organization. 

Human Resource Managers Will Focus on Hiring Equity

Human resource teams are working to eliminate bias in hiring—particularly when it comes to unconscious bias. Names, universities, graduation years, and experience can all contribute to bias, even on a subtle level.

This bias means that resumes get ignored, and certain candidates have a harder time landing interviews. To make the workplace more diverse, companies are moving toward blind hiring

This process includes looking at the experience without the name or sending out skills tests to find the most qualified candidates. While it can’t remove all prejudice, it’s a positive step toward creating a more equal hiring environment.

Consider updating your hiring process to eliminate bias and increase your qualified candidate pool. 

Companies Will Train and Promote Internal Talent

Upskilling will be a significant trend in 2020 as companies work to identify valuable workers and improve their knowledge of the industry. Upskilling involves training and mentoring. 

In short, it is investing in team members. By upskilling your workforce, you can improve employee loyalty. Your team members are less likely to quit if you invest in their potential and if they see growth opportunities within your organization.

Upskilling also allows you to mitigate knowledge gaps within and across departments. This additional training will make your company more resilient and flexible—allowing it to adapt and survive when it faces challenges like we are currently.

Automation Will Increase Efficiencies

Automation is nothing new for businesses, and it’s a trend that will continue well beyond 2020. Most businesses are aware of the value of automation—with many seeking automated solutions to mundane and repetitive tasks. 

Instead of downloading and uploading reports, businesses are using APIs to connect datasets. Rather than hiring dedicated customer service representatives, companies are automating their help desks with FAQs and chatbots. 

As you might imagine, automation can make your business more efficient, but it can also leave your employees feeling obsolete. A recent study from Forrester suggests that more than 1 million knowledge-work jobs will be replaced by robotics, machine learning, or other automated technologies this year.

While certain jobs might be lost because of new technology, it will create new, strategic-level positions. Automation shouldn’t be viewed negatively by employees—it should be a tool that helps mitigate their time spent on redundant tasks so they can focus their energy on more complex problems.

Keep Your Business Moving Forward This Year

Progressive organizations will monitor business trends and make strategic decisions to increase productivity and success. Within our current economic landscape, it’s never been more important to have a pulse on the global workforce. 

As you can see above, several business trends currently affect how organizations operate. While no one can predict the future, you can take heed of these insights and modify your organization as needed to keep your employees happy, your company culture positive, and your business moving forward.

Derek Miller is a writer specializing in entrepreneurship, small business, and digital marketing. His work has featured in sites like Entrepreneur, GoDaddy, Score.org, and StartupCamp. He’s currently the CMO of Smack Apparel, the content guru at Great.com, and a marketing consultant for small businesses.

Should Remote Work Become the New Norm?

Technology has made it exponentially easier to connect and communicate online. People can video call, send emails, share documents, and manage tasks anywhere they have an internet connection. 

This flexibility has led many employees to request working from home—but organizations are less excited about this laissez-faire approach. 

How can you know your employees are actually working all day? Will the quality of work suffer without regular face-to-face interaction? It’s much easier for businesses to monitor employees and hold them accountable in the office—can they really trust employees to work from home?

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses no longer have the luxury of testing remote work—employees around the globe are being forced to work from home. So ready or not, we are going to stress-test remote work globally.

As we come out on the other side of the coronavirus outbreak, you’re going to know a lot more about how effective working remotely is for your business. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at remote work and whether it’s something you should consider long-term.

Employees Already Waste Time at Work

Companies that try to limit remote work often want to cut down on employee distractions. If an employee is in the office, then management can walk by and make sure they aren’t wasting time or doing non-work-related tasks. However, managers might not be as good as they think at catching employees. 

Employees admit that they waste three hours on average during an eight-hour workday. This time is spent surfing the web, socializing with coworkers, and generally spacing out. Furthermore, 77% of employees with a Facebook account say they use it at work.

Your employees will find a way to waste time at work—they just won’t do it in front of you. 

Remote Work Doesn’t Mean Lower Productivity

When you look at the productivity numbers, remote workers are statistically more productive. A 2019 study of more than 1,000 employees found that remote workers work an average of 1.4 more days every month than their in-office counterparts. 

Remote workers only reported being idle for 27 minutes each day (outside of lunch and breaks) compared to 37 minutes for in-office staff.  

This evidence suggests that if your employees are happy to work for your company and value their jobs, they will work just as hard remotely as they would in a face-to-face setting. If they aren’t engaged in their jobs, then it doesn’t matter where they work—these team members won’t give it their all.  

Remote Work Has Multiple Human Resource Benefits

While most managers focus on productivity when they consider letting employees work remotely, there are other benefits to consider. For example, remote workers save an average of $4,500 on fuel each year and clock an extra 25 minutes of physical exercise each week. These benefits mean that remote work options can serve as a cash bonus for your team members while making them healthier and happier

Along with helping employees, the benefits that come from remote work can also help employers. For example:

  • -Happier employees are less likely to quit, reducing turnover and lost profits because of it. 
  • -More employees will apply to a job that offers remote work options, increasing your talent pool so you find qualified candidates. 
  • -Hiring workers for full-time remote positions allows you to increase your talent pool across the country, helping you find the perfect fit for your brand. 

Ask yourself: is a reliable employee working from home better than a handful of average employees in the office? Most would probably say yes. 

You Don’t Have to Approve Full-Time Remote Work 

One of the biggest misconceptions that employers have is that their remote workers are never in the office. In fact, 60% of workers actually prefer being able to work in the office and don’t believe that having flexible work options would interfere or disconnect them from their office. Despite the majority preferring to work onsite, more than 80% of workers still like the idea of being given the option to work remotely – even if it’s on occasion. 

In fact, when employees are able to work from home at least once a month, they are 24% more likely to be happy and productive. In other words, giving employees the flexible work options, even on occasion, plays a factor in their well-being and overall productivity. 

Consider the needs of your employees and why they want to work from home. This information can guide your remote work policy. A few examples include:

  • -Letting employees work remotely on Fridays as a perk of the job. 
  • -Allowing parents to work remotely in the afternoon once they pick the kids up from school. 
  • -Permitting employees to work remotely to greet repairmen or other home service providers. 
  • -Letting employees work overtime remotely over a weekend to complete a project on a tight deadline. 

Even if you do let employees work remotely whenever they want, you can still ask them to come to the office for certain meetings or on specific days to meet with clients. This approach creates a fair amount of remote and office time. 

Furthermore, setting up remote work policies when everything is fine can prepare your company in the event that your team members need to stay home during a natural disaster or emergency—as we’re seeing now. 

The Future of Remote Work

Organizations around the world are being forced to work remotely—even if they were ill-prepared. As a result, businesses will have growing pains and hurdles to overcome with working from home. However, there’s no denying that there will be lessons learned. 

Will we discover the remote office to be the next frontier of the workplace? Will working from home prove to be a complete failure? 

Likely, we’re going to land somewhere in the middle. Remote work will have its flaws, but it will also have benefits for the employees and employers. Once we get back to business as usual, companies should evaluate their experiences and consider adapting their businesses for remote work opportunities. 

Remote work isn’t the right choice for every company, but that doesn’t mean you should completely write it off. With the right system, your employees might appreciate the flexibility and reward you with increased productivity.

Derek Miller is a writer specializing in entrepreneurship, small business, and digital marketing. His work has featured in sites like Entrepreneur, GoDaddy, Score.org, and StartupCamp. He’s currently the CMO of Smack Apparel, the content guru at Great.com, and a marketing consultant for small businesses.