Five Ways to Retain Fantastic Talent (Remote Edition)

There is no shortage of studies illuminating the unpredictable nature of the workforce today. From spikes in resignations last year to widespread employee demand for continued remote work options post-pandemic, the future of work is no longer a phenomenon we “expect” to happen; it’s here.

retaining talent

Most companies have come to grips with the demand for remote options, flexibility, and deeper fulfillment. It’s exciting for many of us in the HR space to see the reality we knew was coming for so long finally arrive.

Employees are demanding *more* from their employers—more connection, more inclusivity, more meaning, more individualism, and more freedom to work the way they work best. 

A stronger workplace culture; competitive benefits; and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are just the starting point of appealing to the modern jobseeker. Where does a company begin on its journey to recruiting and retaining top talent in such a revolutionary work environment? It looks for opportunities to improve its “value proposition” to current and prospective employees.

Just as a major brand advertises its latest product, companies must take a tenacious approach to market their unique work culture.

What Is an Employee Value Proposition?

Similar to marketing’s unique value or selling proposition, an employee value proposition (EVP) encompasses everything an employer is doing to attract and retain employees and stand out among competing employers. It’s the company’s way of saying “You should work for us because we’re the best in X, Y, Z.” HR Daily Advisor said it best: Having an effective EVP can help attract new employees who have goals and values that are in alignment with organizational goals and values, which aids in employee retention.

In a remote-first work environment, the EVP is even more critical because there is naturally a more complex competitor pool; on top of competing for employees in a certain geographical region(s), companies looking to retain fantastic talent in remote positions are competing with companies around the world.

The baseline of a modern EVP through the lens of today’s changing workforce is this: The pandemic has led people to rethink their purpose in life, and this has had a significant impact on their career choices. They want to know that the work they do—and the company they work for—is able to bring them a stronger purpose in life. Employers must meet this need or risk losing their best people.

With this in mind, below are five ways companies can strengthen their EVP and appeal to remote-first talent.

1. Stand Firm in a Defined Company Culture

The most impactful and memorable brands are those that are transparent and authentic and have a clear purpose or mission. Their audience or buyers know what to expect in terms of quality, communication, customer service, and so on. There are no surprises when it comes to what and whom they represent. The same sentiment must hold true for business; talent must have a clear understanding of the culture of the business for which they work.

While we could talk about creating a strong company culture for days, it’s important to know that every business has its own unique culture. What’s important when it comes to attracting and retaining talent is how boldly and clearly that culture is articulated and, of course, how deeply embedded that culture is within the organization from the top down and from side to side.

2. Connect to a Broader Purpose

Along similar lines is a company’s stance on issues impacting humanity on a larger scale. The importance of a corporation’s social action has been elevated by consumers and employees at a fascinating rate. In fact, 73% of businesses expected their 2021 DEI budget to increase from 2020. Moreover, Porter Novelli’s 2021 Business & Social Justice study revealed that 60% of respondents are optimistic that real change will be seen as companies begin to address social justice issues.

Employees want to work for companies that are connected to a broader purpose that connects back to their *own* personal life mission, whatever that may be.

3. Promote Holistic Well-Being

There is no longer room for generic rewards and one-size-fits-all benefits. Individualized incentives are soon to be par for the course. This is all part of the movement to see employees as humans rather than numbers on a spreadsheet. Each employee has different needs, wants, and ambitions. Similar to persona creation methods in marketing, businesses should learn what makes each of their employees unique and cater to that wherever possible. This might take the form of well-being bonuses that are customized for each person.

For example, those just out of college might need stability, as they are just starting out in their careers, while those with a spouse and children might place more weight on work/life integration. Companies that look at their EVP through a human-centric lens will have a better understanding of what each person needs and be able to meet those needs effectively. 

4. Tear Down Borders

The pandemic has played a major role in breaking down silos and training for greater global inclusivity, but there are a lot of opportunities for businesses to capitalize on the democratization of the global workforce. In terms of accessibility, companies can appeal to a broad range of candidates simply by thinking creatively about factors such as schedules, equipment, training, education, and experience.

What American business leaders may traditionally think of as a barrier to one position may actually be an untapped asset. More companies are beginning to see that diversity in ways of thinking and experiences can bring huge advantages to teams once systemic borders and silos are removed.

5. Walk the DEI Walk

Likewise, with more people having access to employment opportunities around the world, there’s a newfound opportunity for companies to finally walk the walk when it comes to DEI. Continued globalization brings with it the democratization of work. This simply means there is a greater ability to access and hire talent from virtually anywhere.

Such globalization and democratization mean it’s easier now more than ever to tangibly level the playing field and offer equal opportunities to groups that were previously unreachable. If companies seek to engage more minority groups, they will automatically ensure global DEI, which contributes to a much stronger EVP.

Every organization has an EVP—just like every brand has a reputation among buyers—whether it recognizes it or not. The companies that come out on top are those that take steps to ensure their EVP is not only attractive to new employees but also articulated clearly across the organization and within hiring networks. The EVP must be set in firm culture; convey a broader purpose to employees; promote human-first, holistic well-being; tear down borders; and move the DEI needle forward.

Taking these into account, any business can be a top-notch recruiting powerhouse and stand out in an increasingly global market.

Richa Gupta is the Chief People Officer at Globalization Partners.