How to Retain a Virtual Workforce

You might think that hybrid and remote employee retention is simple when you offer such a flexible and generous workplace model. However, there will always be challenges associated with retaining staff, whether in-office or virtual.

It is challenging to maintain a consistent workplace culture when half or more of your employees are working remotely. When it comes down to it, there is more to employee satisfaction than working in their selected location. Other issues might arise for them that you can’t predict or control.

Here are seven ideas for managing a virtual workforce to help ensure you retain valued employees.

7 Ways to Retain a Virtual Workforce

Let's explore some ways we believe you can improve employee retention remote work outcomes:

  • Establish Your Workplace Culture Early and Clearly
  • Ensure Remote and Hybrid Employees Feel Included
  • Set Up a Reimbursement Plan and Fund for Remote Workers
  • Send an Agenda for Each Meeting
  • Offer Career Development and Training Courses
  • Request That On-Site Employees Participate in Meetings From Their Desks
  • Monitor and Measure Employee Engagement

1. Establish Your Workplace Culture Early and Clearly

Just because you allow for a scattered, remote and hybrid workforce doesn’t mean you relinquish control of your nonprofit workplace culture, rules and mission. It is vital to maintain a standard for all employees, whether working from home, in the office or on the other side of the country.

The best ways to establish and maintain your company culture in a blended workplace model include:

  • Schedule regular meetings for everyone to catch up with your leadership and their peers.
  • Create in-office signage and intranet banners featuring slogans, mottoes, and images that reinforce your company culture.
  • Remind remote and hybrid employees that they are always welcome to come into the office to work, regardless of their regular designation. They are a part of your team, and you want them to join you any time they want to.
  • Design comfortable common areas for everyone to gather during in-office events.
  • Update your virtual workforce best practices and policies regularly, especially if events occur that help refine your strategies for employee retention.

2. Ensure Remote and Hybrid Employees Feel Included

As mentioned in our first tip, create a space or spaces where remote and hybrid and employees can sit and work or meet with management and coworkers during visits. If you can afford it in a nonprofit environment, try to maintain a desk space for every employee, so they know they are welcome and are a part of the team.

Also, avoid calling a staff meeting that only includes on-site employees — even if it is a purely on-site issue related to the facility or other topic — to prevent accidentally leaving a remote staff member off the meeting list.

As irrelevant as it might seem to you and your remote employee, your inclusion of them helps reinforce that you keep them in mind and want them involved in office matters.

Similarly, if you go out to lunch with team members to celebrate an accomplishment, work to find a date that works for in-office and remote and hybrid employees.

3. Set Up a Reimbursement Plan and Fund for Remote Workers

If your remote employees were working in the office, you would provide all the office supplies, hardware equipment, internet access and anything else they need. You might not want to buy and ship things to your remote employee, knowing they can do it themselves, selecting things that work best for them per their tastes or ergonomically.

Let them know that your nonprofit will reimburse payment for office supplies and equipment that they purchase. You don’t want to be like the one-third of employers who ask employees to pay for their work-related internet service and buy their supplies and equipment.

When you establish a fair reimbursement policy, you will not only stay compliant with local labor laws, but also your remote employee will appreciate not bearing the financial burden of doing their work.

4. Send an Agenda for Each Meeting

It’s important that all your nonprofit employees and managers are on the same page during each meeting. The best way to ensure everyone stays on track is to prepare and send an agenda for each meeting to everyone, certainly including remote employees. This step is standard best practice if everyone works in the office, but it’s doubly important for remote employees.

Sketch an outline of the meeting’s objectives, adding what you want to discuss, what you want to hear from employees and, finally, what the desired outcome is. Make sure to lay all this out on your agenda to let everyone know your expectations of them. Employees can think about the meeting and how they might respond when it’s time, whether verbally or via chat.

5. Offer Career Development and Training Courses

Employees feel valued when you let them know you believe they have a strong future with the company and you want to help them fulfill their vision of them. Investing in valued employees leads to powerful remote employee retention.

Work with leadership and funding providers to design professional development programs for talented employees who can do more with the right virtual or easily accessible training. Allow employees to take on special projects or participate in training seminars, networking opportunities and coaching processes.

6. Request That On-Site Employees Participate in Meetings From Their Desks

Another way to ensure that your nonprofit employees and managers are bonding is to create situations of solidarity. Ask your on-site employees to access the Zoom call from their desk instead of having the on-site employees huddle in the conference room.

7. Monitor and Measure Employee Engagement

As a leader of a disparate workforce, you need to monitor and measure everyone's involvement. Think of it as “reading the room” or “taking the temperature,” but you need to stay aware of who is fully present during each meeting or conversation and who seems to fade away or behave as if they are distracted or bored.

Conduct regular employee surveys for everyone to fill out, remote or not, to see how everyone is doing.

If you are worried about managing a virtual workforce and how to retain your valued employees, UST offers a full suite of solutions. Our resources are easy to access, understand and deploy for your HR and management teams for employee retention remote work.

Visit us to explore our resources, which include multiple downloads and a live HR hotline.



More Blog Entries

Igniting Cultural Transformation

Nonprofit organizations, by nature, are dedicated to serving others. From advocating...

Ways to Help Employees Overcome Mental Fatigue

Nonprofit employees are some of the most dedicated and passionate workers out there,...