Telework for retention and engagement

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There’s more competition than ever for skilled workers, and companies are looking for ways to set themselves apart. As more people look for flexible hours and older workers try to ease into retirement, allowing a mobile workforce can be a cost-effective way to attract the best.

The recently releasedWorkShift Canada Telework report estimated the country could save $1.8bn in turnover costs by maximizing telework – and the desire for these kinds of opportunities is also great draw card for candidates.

“Almost 90% of people would work at home part of the time if they could,” report author Kate Lister said. “It’s a way companies can differentiate themselves from the competition. Canada is having more retention and attraction problems than the US or the UK, so companies need to pay attention to what people want and what they can offer.”

What’s more, it opens up the talent pool by offering more opportunities for disabled workers, or for those who are caring for elderly parents.

See also: Save $10,000 per employee by encouraging telework

ATB Investor Services’ award-winning pilot program saw 30 staff take part, and following a 40% reported increase in productivity, the company is now extending the program to another 130 people.

Head of talent and story Sherri Wright-Schwietz said the biggest sign of the success of telework for retention came when a number of the employees taking part in the pilot were headhunted by another firm. Wright-Schwietz described the head hunt as “aggressive”, yet none of the staff chose to leave.

“The benefits are great if you do it right,” she said. “You’re not forcing anyone into one kind of work, you leave it open to match the individual’s work style and personality so they can be productive in any way that makes sense to them.”

So what’s holding companies back? One aspect is the fear of losing the ‘team’ feeling, Lister said. People tend to have a polar view of mobile workers, believing they spend all week in their pajamas or in cafes. However, most teleworkers spend two to three days a week working at the office, giving ample opportunities for collaboration.

The most resistance comes from line managers, Lister added. Many still rely on seeing their workers to trust they’re working, despite research showing that even those at their desks manage to waste two hours a day.



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