Distributed workforces present an interesting challenge when it comes to their Human Resources needs and challenges. When a business employs workers in several locations or provides employees with a variety of work options, such as telecommuting, it is operating with a distributed workforce.
Unfortunately, a lot of HR literature has been written about companies that are co-located or have large offices which can have dedicated HR teams.
What about highly distributed setups where the staff is few but locations are many?
These setups could be branches of a bank or sales offices or client project locations. They are harder to manage because the HR resource is handling several of these locations. They also are physically located elsewhere.
With the quest to improve sales and provide better customer experience, the likes of BFSI, logistics, and field services are investing in hiring a distributed workforce. With a looming gap in the skill-set and fierce competition between brands, leaders need new strategies to find and develop top talent. But, this is not the end of it, there are a lot of challenges that managers face when it comes to attracting, recruiting and retaining a workforce. This holds true for lower through mid-levels employees in any industry.
Hiring in these distributed setups used to be largely about relying on local vendors/consultants supplying talent in the area. This approach has led to high degrees of attrition given that, for example, sales setups have high pressure. That coupled with the friendly local vendor buzzing about an employee’s ear has led to the same candidate moving out.
As a result, employee lifetime values are low.
And an employee’s lifetime value is critical for organizational growth. In a distributed hiring setup, it becomes harder to drive higher lifetime values if the organization is riddled with attrition. The main culprit for this is often the hiring practices that are in place.
Companies taking a forward-thinking approach to their talent pipeline have started to move their hiring practices towards more sustainable and long term impact-oriented channels. Below we’ll discuss 4 ways to tackle distributed hiring challenges.
Referrals work to a great extent here – Ask Your Network About Their Experiences
The hiring challenges are not new, if you’ve never hired remotely before, that doesn’t mean there is no hiring done in that region or that no other brand has done it. When you reach out to your network, there is a good chance you’ll find someone who’s hired for a similar job position before and that knows a good amount of people there.
Speak to a set of people who have already faced the same situation, yet went ahead with hiring. Local consultants/ vendors might also help you in spreading the word. Micro-social media sites and new hiring channels in Whatsapp groups also help in sharing the information regarding openings.
Test the Waters Before Deep Dive
If you come across a great candidate for your job opening but the only caveat is that the person is remote, try asking if they’d be open to probation for you first before you decide whether or not you’d like to have them on board as a full-time remote member.
This practice applies to every industry and even a remote workforce. Look at it as a good way to test if both can have synergies. Be clear around the terms, and pass-on the similar conditions to your hiring consultants and with the potential of offering a full-time position later. This helps in reducing attrition and you will have a fair idea on if you would have to need one more person to fill-in, before the end the of the notice period of the existing hire.
Consider Proven Remote Professionals
When hiring remote workers, especially ones who are active on marketplaces, you can easily access their entire feedback history. Just as you’d be wary of booking a home with no previous host history on a vacation rental site, you should be wary of hiring a remote worker who has never worked remotely before (unless they can prove that they really can do this well).
Communicate and Collaborate
When everyone was based in an office, information and tasks could be strictly supervised and tightly controlled. Now, important elements of control, including work location, are being ceded to give employees more choice, to stimulate engagement and, hence, productivity. Dispersed daily to differing degrees, employees need to be well-connected and highly communicated with.
Processes and their assigned tasks should be transparently shared, clearly defined, and traceable.
In the Future of Work environment, each person must be able to engage, collaborate, and contribute effectively and efficiently according to their responsibilities. They need to be communicated with, monitored, and managed to the level necessary no matter where they work.
New personalization technology means those individual employees’ needs can be met, allowing for different roles, working styles, and desired communications means and or applications.
On a final note
Whether enthusiastically adopted or begrudgingly accepted, most businesses need to add customizable, strategic, virtual enterprise capabilities to interconnect all their workers appropriately. This is essential to recruit and retain key talent and to remain competitive in the global marketplace with an increasingly globally dispersed workforce.
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