So far in The Virtual Edge, Geoffrey Dubiski has covered the impact of remote employment engagements in terms of business continuity and recovery planning (BCRP), absenteeism, and cost savings. In today's installment, he will demonstrate how virtual employment can increase your ability to attract and retain top talent (and their intellectual capital). ~Mike Zambon
A remote workforce or telecommuting policy gives employers another tool to attract and secure high-impact talent in the core workforce (that is, those employees with 10-15 years of experience). In many instances, the candidate that is the best fit for your company might not reside locally. Don't let that be an obstacle to bringing them on board.
Understand the issues candidates in this group are facing, both personally and professionally, that might make them unwilling or unable to move for the position you are offering. For example, many candidates in the sandwich generation are unable to relocate for a new job due to deep ties they have with their current community. They might have children in school; be members of local boards, charities, or other community activities; or have aging or ill parents in the area for whom they provide care and support.
Or consider the real estate or financial barriers the recent economy has created that make relocation unpractical or impossible.
That said, the personal issues of a potential candidate alone might not be enough to convince the decision makers at your organization to implement remote work policies. But there are benefits to the organization, too. First, you have the opportunity to have employees in closer proximity to customers, suppliers, and operational centers than they might have been if they were stationed at the corporate office.
Recruitment of top talent will increase, cost to hire and retain will decrease, and your bottom line will improve dramatically. Plus, there are areas of the country that offer access to an outstanding talent base and cost of living that could be attractive to locate a new operation. (Remember in the mid-90s when call/processing centers were booming in Jacksonville, Fla.?)
Also consider the leverage remote-work policies will give you with employees that might be considering leaving or retiring. Even before the recession foiled many baby boomers' retirement plans, workers in this age group demonstrated a desire to continue working, to mentor or coach other employees, or, as a company representative, to share their talents with the community.
Virtual employment options might be the deciding factor on whether these employees do decide to remain in your workforce. And if they do, it will be a boon to your company in terms of intellectual capital retention and the coaching of younger employees. What's more, any community outreach these employees participate in on your organization's behalf boosts the identity of your employment brand, and can foster excitement in the skills required for such a career. Positive PR and tax incentives could also come into play.
So, as you continue to weigh the pros and cons of a virtual workforce program, keep these potential benefits in mind. The greater the due diligence you perform up front, the greater leverage you have to create a program that is sustainable and profitable for all involved.