The one benefit candidates can’t refuse, myself included
I am currently writing from my living room, sitting on my couch with my fresh made breakfast beside me. I am able to do this because, like many other companies looking to attract and retain people, my organization has allowed me to work remotely from home.
In return my company can feel secure in the fact that I am unlikely to leave. Who would search for another job, if it means trading away the opportunity to work in pajamas, alongside their dog, with access to a full fridge? In fact, most people would take a significant pay cut for this kind of perk.
Though this may sound like an extraordinary luxury, it’s actually becoming fairly common.
The rise of remote work
Three years ago, I attempted to write an article on remote work. I emailed all of our recruiters asking for their best remote stories and received exactly one response. That response was a courtesy message telling me that remote work wasn’t really ‘a thing’ for more seasoned professionals.
But between the 50-year low unemployment rate and the race for top talent, remote work has risen with a vengeance. According to Global Workplace Analytics, “regular telecommuting grew 115% in the past decade, nearly 10 times faster than the rest of the workforce.” Here’s how we’ve seen some companies using remote work to their advantage:
The best counteroffer is remote work
I debated sharing this fact for the simple reason that counter offers – the offer extended by a company to try to ‘reel back’ an employee who has taken another job – are a huge threat to our business. When a candidate with whom we’ve worked accepts a counteroffer, all of the time and effort we’ve invested in helping them find a new job becomes meaningless.
But it’s also our job to help hiring managers like you build better teams. So with that in mind, here is a piece of wisdom straight from our recruiters: candidates almost never refuse an offer of remote work. We recently helped a woman looking to leave an intensely stressful work situation; she put in grueling hours, hated the company culture, and felt generally burnt out. After multiple rounds of interviews, she fell in love with a new company and was ready to accept…
…Until her original company offered her remote work. Suddenly, none of the other issues seemed to matter.
Now, we’re not saying to use remote work as a band aid solution to cover up a toxic work culture or unhealthy hours. If something is truly wrong with your company, remote work won’t fix it. But the fact that candidates are willing to overlook even the most terrible work environment tells you how powerful remote work is as a retention tool.
Remote work is also the best bargaining chip
Yes, remote work can be a great tool when you need to quickly entice a wavering employee. But it can also work to lock down a candidate who’s choosing between different roles. Even if your offer isn’t the highest salary, or the best benefits, remote work can tip the balances in your favor.
If hiring someone remote right off the bat is intimidating for you, try offering a partial remote position for the first 6-12 months. I actually worked my first year as one day/week remote, and only fully transitioned after a year with my company.
Be upfront about your expectations – tell your employee what they need to do in order to earn your trust. You may even find that your employee never wants to go fully remote, since working full-time from home can feel isolating for some.
How many missed opportunities will it take to convince you?
We’ve been working with a seasoned Financial Manager searching for her next role. She has been working from home for the past few years and is hoping to continue as a remote worker (once you go remote, you can’t go back!). She’s well sought-after, has plenty of offers, but isn’t willing to budge on working from home. Whichever company is first to offer her remote – at least part-time remote – will hire a great professional at a bargain salary.
Still, the fear of hiring remote workers holds many hiring managers back. It’s understandable – how can you monitor what your employee is doing? Will they fit in with the team? Will everyone want to go remote, if you offer it to this one person?
These are all valid questions. I can tell you what the research says – that remote people work longer hours and are more productive – but I rather speak from experience. In my experience, remote workers will be more concerned with your happiness and approval than any other employee on staff. They will run from the bathroom to answer the phone and will bend over backwards to prove that your trust is not misplaced.
It’s a strange thing, being remote. You always feel the need to prove that you’ve earned this benefit.
I’m not saying to offer every new employee remote work. What I’m telling you is that candidates are willing to compromise on almost anything else, if it means (even partially) working from home.