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The Key to Retaining Young Workers? Better Onboarding.

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How can employers do a better job hiring and keeping young workers? New research from interviews with workforce development specialists focusing on young workers (particularly young workers of color) filling core production tasks in factories, health care, and administrative service firms sheds light on the social aspects of onboarding that can make or break a young worker’s experience. The authors offer ten ways employers can improve young workers’ onboarding experiences to sustain a mutually beneficial relationship: 1) Create career jobs, 2) Communicate opportunities for career progression, 3) Build positive relationships prior to hiring, 4) Ensure a positive first day reception, 5) Assign new hires a mentor, 6) Communicate and explain expectations clearly, 7) Create a culture where young workers can ask questions, 8) Understand their non-work lives, 9) Foster a climate of respect and dignity for everyone, and 10) Create a racially equitable workplace.

It is no news that hiring right now is incredibly difficult. Labor shortages are widespread, young workers are expecting higher starting wages, and after employers hire and train a new employee, the risk that they will jump ship for a better paying job is rising fast. The cost of turnover is high, but it has always been higher than many employers realize and it’s probably bad for your firm’s bottom line.

How can employers do a better job hiring and keeping young workers? To find out we talked with workforce development professionals — people who help employers find workers and young adults find employers. We asked them what employers should do to promote good hires, ones that last. These professionals see and appreciate both sides of the hiring process and were able to tell us what works and what fails in the hiring process for young workers. Our research focused on young workers filling the core production tasks in many types of jobs, including factories, health care, and administrative service firms. For all types of jobs our focus was on what employers can do to find and keep new entry-level employees.

To attract and keep their core production people, many firms are raising wages, some are switching to full-time benefited positions, and some are even offering signing bonuses. These are essential, but what we learned is that what is more important to get young workers to stick around are the social aspects of hiring, especially those having to do with developing mutual respect and trust. These are particular challenges for workers of color, who often expect to encounter discrimination.

Our goal is to help employers examine their hiring and training practices, increase the speed at which new hires become productive team members, and reduce the high dollar and emotional costs of turnover from failed hires. We learned ten lessons in our research to help employers hire successfully. The workforce specialists we interviewed developed these insights by observing the typical mistakes employers make, sometimes over and over again. Here’s how you can correct them:

1. Create career jobs.

We’re in an era of increased expectations for good jobs. A good job is not simply one that pays a little above the minimum wage; these are everywhere and plentiful. Good jobs promise a future and make young people feel valued. Career jobs pay living wages, have predictable hours, visible skill and wage progression, and most importantly foster respectful relationships with supervisors and co-workers. Bad jobs communicate that the employer does not care whether employees stay or go.

2. Communicate opportunities for career progression.

Young people may have had multiple short-term, dead-end jobs before you hire them. It is important to recognize that what employers might see as a training period — with the goal that this will be a long-term relationship — for young workers might feel too much like the jobs that they have had in the past. What may seem obvious to the employer can be a mystery to a young employee. If you see this hire as the beginning of a long-term relationship, make that clear from the start. If you do not make this clear, young workers may leave prematurely for a job they see themselves growing in.

3. Build positive relationships prior to hiring.

If you are having trouble building a high-quality applicant pool, outreach prior to hiring can help. Young workers often need to be able to imagine themselves in your workplace, doing your jobs, working with your people. Mock interviews can communicate what employer’s value, prior to the (often stressful) real interview. Workplace tours and job shadowing are effective in helping candidates see themselves in a role, although if everyone already at work is white or male, tours and job shadowing might be signals to many potential hires that they do not belong. The same goes for websites and training videos: If no one looks like me, I may simply assume that I am not welcome. Since the workforce of the future will increasingly be people of color, employers need to think about what signals they are sending to workers of color.

4. Ensure a positive first day reception.

Everyone gets nervous, but young workers are often particularly uncomfortable entering a new workplace. One of the biggest mistakes employers make is assuming that new workers are ready to work and will figure things out. This may be true for those who stick around, but it is also a signal that you don’t care, and that will lead some to leave. The extreme version of this is when a new employee shows up for work and everyone seems surprised to see them. From the employer’s point of view, this may indicate poor communication between HR and department supervisors. From the new employee’s viewpoint, this is a sign that you do not care. First impressions are crucial to retention. Introductions to coworkers, supervisors, support staff and the boss are vitally important.

5. Assign new hires a mentor.

Employees need to learn both job skills and the informal culture of the workplace. If you leave it to chance, some employees will figure things out, some may get lucky and be adopted by a more senior colleague, and others will struggle. One tendency is to think that the strugglers are lazy or dumb. More often, they simply have not been adequately mentored and need help figuring things out. Mentors can provide information and integration into the social life of the workplace. Assigned mentors are particularly important for young workers of color who are often overlooked or ignored by older supervisors until they “prove” themselves. Many firms have well-developed mentor systems for their managerial and professional workforces but leave onboarding of lower level workers to chance. This is a mistake, especially since these people are often your core production workers.

6. Communicate and explain expectations clearly.

Every workplace has both formal and informal rules around expected behaviors. Many people discover these rules by keeping their head down and looking around. But some rules — like no use of cell phones on the job or the importance of calling in if you cannot get to work on time — may seem self-evident to supervisors but arbitrary or unreasonable to young workers. For example, cell phones are often young workers’ most expensive possession, a lifeline to their children for parents, and central to their identities and relationships for most young people. Of course, checking phones can be dangerous in some manufacturing settings, rude to customers in many service jobs, and irritating to supervisors in general. There is nothing wrong with a rule that makes sense, but it is the employer’s job to communicate not only the rules, but why they make sense. Otherwise, you may sound like a coercive parent or teacher telling them to “just do it.” We all remember how ineffective that was when we were young.

7. Create a culture where young workers can ask questions.

Young workers are often hesitant to speak up and ask for help. They fear failure, and as a result, do not ask for help or explanations when they need it. Getting the hang of things happens sooner and more effectively when the new employee feels like asking questions is normal and that they will be treated with respect when they risk revealing ignorance. In an atmosphere of disrespect and impatience, the tendency is to hide your need for help. Allow your young workers to ask questions and be clear that it is productive to do so.

8. Understand non-work lives.

Young workers typically live different lives than more established workers. This is particularly true when your emerging labor force are people of color or immigrants. Some have children. Many must commute on mass transport. Some are in school or their children are. Successful supervisors understand that they must learn the reality of their young workers non-work lives. Children get sick, mass transport is often late and schedules sporadic, schools schedule exams or teacher work days, doctor appointment times are out of all of our control. Recognize that their life may be far different from yours. Taking the time to understand can prevent mistaking complex lives for bad work habits.

9. Foster a climate of respect and dignity for everyone.

Sometimes supervisors and coworkers who are equal opportunity bullies are excused by managers despite being the source of toxic racist encounters and sexual harassment. Managers should never treat routine bad behavior as an excuse for racism and sexism. Tolerating disrespect in any form drags morale down, reduces productivity, and encourages turnover. Workplaces characterized by dignity and respect for all employees, regardless of race, citizenship, gender, or just plain newbie ignorance are going to be much more successful in hiring and keeping young workers.

10. Create a racially equitable workplace.

Workers of color and immigrants have experienced discrimination in past jobs, schools, and public places, and are worried that they will experience it again in your workplace. A color-blind approach to race is an insult to immigrants and people of color’s lived experiences. Employers should pay attention to the basics, such as race and gender discrepancies in pay, shifts and hours, and job assignments. Additionally, building stable and respectful relationships between supervisors, coworkers and new employees from all backgrounds is key to creating a racially equitable workplace.

Think about a new hire’s first few weeks as a probationary period for both the employee and employer. Both are anxious to develop a long-term productive relationship. While employers are curious as to whether the employee will adapt to the rhythms and expectations of the workplace, new hires are gauging whether this workplace will be a respectful and encouraging place to build a career. Successful onboarding and reducing premature turnover requires communicating that you value a long-term relationship and that your workplace is a welcoming and respectful one.

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How U.S. Employers Can Support Women’s Health

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As physicians, it is all too obvious to us that women’s health in the United States is in a state of crisis. Compared to other high-income countries, women of reproductive age in the United States have the highest rates of pregnancy-related death, preventable death, chronic health conditions, and mental health care needs. They are more likely to die during childbirth than their mothers, and the Supreme Court’s anticipated reversal of Roe v Wade will likely further increase pregnancy-related deaths.

Even more staggering are the inequities: Black women are three times more likely to die during pregnancy, regardless of education or income. The costs of health care are also burdensome, with women delaying care due to cost and suffering financial hardship due to medical bills, even if they have private health insurance.

These poor outcomes negatively affect society and the workplace. When faced with the challenges of navigating work and family without adequate support to do so, many women simply opt to leave the workforce. This attrition results in decreased diversity, lost talent, and less productivity. The Covid-19 pandemic only exacerbated these trends. Between 2020 and 2022, 1.1 million women left the workforce, accounting for 63% of jobs lost during the pandemic. While many are gradually rejoining the labor force, many — especially mothers — are choosing not to return.

Employers can take action today to combat these challenges. Investment in women’s health results in a healthier population overall. Companies that offer comprehensive support for women’s health have higher productivity, better retention of female employees, and most importantly, they help improve health outcomes for women.

Women’s Health Is a National Priority

At a national level, recognition of these poor outcomes in the United States has led to new efforts to improve them. In December 2021, the White House made a call to action to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. This effort included a $3 billion investment in maternal health, encouraged states to increase Medicaid postpartum coverage from 60 days to 12 months, and established a “Birthing Friendly” designation for hospitals that take steps to improve maternity care. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently funds perinatal quality collaboratives that convene a variety of stakeholders to improve the safety and patient-centeredness of maternity care. The National Institutes of Health — whose 27 individual institutes strikingly does not include one dedicated to women’s health — recently announced new funding for research into improved maternal health diagnostics.

The private sector has not kept pace with these advances. Women account for more than half of the national workforce, and most obtain health insurance through their employer. These plans, however, often impose serious financial barriers for essential health care services.

While the Affordable Care Act requires private plans to cover many preventive services, such as prenatal visits and mammograms, other essential services are not covered, such as genetic screening and prescription medications during pregnancy, hospitalization for childbirth, and diagnostic testing after an abnormal mammogram or pap smear. This is in stark contrast to Medicaid plans, where the amount that patients have to spend out of pocket for these services is exceedingly low. Unfortunately, these gaps in coverage are often most detrimental to employees living on lower incomes and those in marginalized racial-ethnic groups.

Employers are powerfully positioned to advance women’s health in the United States. There are several ways in which they can support women and in doing so, ultimately create a healthier society.

1. Provide better health insurance.

Currently, even among women with private health insurance, 98% of new moms in the United States are left with thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket costs after childbirth as the result of “low cost,” high-deductible insurance plans. In fact, more than half of women with private insurance change their plan around the time of childbirth to seek savings. When employers try to maximize the aggregate value of insurance plans, critical gaps still exist at the individual level.

Therefore, it is essential for employers to seek comprehensive insurance plans that include coverage for pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care without high deductibles, co-pays, or out-of-pocket costs. These plans should also cover crucial mental health services, including treatment for substance-use disorders, and evidence-based management of chronic conditions across women’s lifespans. Women must have a seat at any table where insurance plan benefit design tradeoffs are being decided.

Since health care payers are sensitive to market pressures, demands by purchasers for high-quality women’s health insurance coverage will drive market change within the health care delivery system. This should not be seen as a short-term expense, but rather, as a long-term investment.

Employers’ comprehensive insurance plans should include access to safe abortion, which unequivocally saves lives, helps people achieve their life goals, and is an essential part of comprehensive health care. However, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade, as a leaked draft opinion suggests it may do, abortion will become illegal in at least 13 states with trigger laws, and other states are also likely to restrict abortion access.

Multiple companies have therefore pledged to reimburse travel and lodging expenses for employees seeking abortion services, since many may soon have to travel out of state. Should access to safe abortion become restricted, such corporate provisions, alongside insurance coverage for abortion care itself, will become increasingly important to foster access to the full scope of health care and avoid deleterious effects on employee retention and recruitment. Employers unable to cover costs of travel or treatment can protect safe abortion access by providing paid medical leave as some have done.

2. Provide paid parental leave.

The United States is the only high-income country without national paid parental leave. Lack of paid leave means that pregnant and postpartum people take less time off work, which is associated with increased birth complications and worse maternal and infant health.

Paid leave doesn’t just benefit maternal and infant health; it benefits everyone. A recent study compared companies in states that have enacted paid parental leave with those that haven’t. It found that in the states with paid leave, performance rose by 1%, productivity rose by 5%, and employee turnover decreased. What’s more, longer paid parental leave keeps more women in the workforce. Companies that have begun to invest in paid parental leave are already reaping rewards.

3. Redesign the workplace to support women.

Women face many barriers and stigmas around basic health and wellness in the workplace. A 2020 survey study found that only 10% of new mothers had designated breaks to support breastfeeding, and only 17% had support from supervisors or coworkers. Support for preventative health appointments, childcare, and mental health is often lacking as well.

With input from women employees, employers need to design a workplace that supports positive health behaviors and recognizes that women often shoulder an unequal burden of caregiving at home. Many have begun to reimagine the workplace as one that includes on-site subsidized childcare, spaces for pumping breaks and breastfeeding, and flexible work-hour arrangements to accommodate appointments and caregiving responsibilities.

Resources and guides are available to make these changes. By intentionally integrating support into the workplace itself, companies are more likely to retain talent and improve the employees’ health, wellness, engagement, and productivity.

In a social and political environment that sees growing threats to women’s health and autonomy, the steps outlined above represent ways for corporate leaders to make women’s health a priority. The moral case is obvious, but the business case is just as strong. By investing in comprehensive support for women’s health, companies can improve productivity, realize their employees’ full potential, and reverse the troubling health outcome trends that continue to unfold in the United States.

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Using Emojis to Connect with Your Team

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Employees don’t check their emotions at the office door — or Zoom room. But it can be harder to read how your team is feeling when you’re working remotely or in a hybrid office. Managers can use emojis as a fun and easy way to connect with their team. They can offer deeper insight on how your team is feeling, help you build your own cognitive empathy, help you model appropriate emotions, and help reinforce your company culture. Emoji usage can be an intergenerational and cultural minefield, however, so if you are new to the practice, the authors suggest starting with simple emojis (for example, a thumbs up) rather than those that represent complex emotions.

Leaders have often relied on physical cues, such as facial expressions and body language, to gauge and communicate emotions or intent. But doing so is more difficult in the remote workplace, where facial expressions and physical gestures are difficult to both read and convey.

Anecdotal evidence, as well as conversations we’ve had as part of our ongoing research into effective leadership in the digital age, is pointing to the growing use of emojis in the virtual workplace as an alternative to physical cues. They can help clarify meaning behind digital communications, as well as the type and strength of emotions being expressed. But they can also be an intergenerational and cultural minefield. For example, Gen Z’s are reportedly offended by their colleagues’ use of the smiley face emoji, which they see as patronizing. And cultural and geographical differences can mean that one person’s friendly gesture is another’s offense.

To lead in the remote or hybrid workplace, managers need to be aware of these pitfalls and need to understand how to use emojis effectively.

Using Emojis to Connect with Your Team

Based on recent research on emoji use in the workplace, our interviews with leaders who self-identified as using emojis for team management, as well as our own research into effective leadership, we identified four ways using emoji can help you connect with employees and enhance your leadership in a hybrid or remote environment.

1. Get deeper insight on how your team is feeling.

When employees at Danske Bank A/S, a Danish banking and financial services company, log on to join their remote management meetings, they share an emoji. “Our virtual meetings start with capturing the mood of the day. We each post a sticker with our name and an emoji that represents how we feel,” explains Eduardo Morales, a Danske Bank product owner. As these meetings usually are attended by more than 40 people, emoji sharing allows attendees to get a sense of each other’s moods, as well as the collective mood of the group, with just a single glance at the screen. “It saves time, and yet our interactions are richer,” Morales says. “Emojis allows us to reflect upon and express a broader range of feelings beyond the standard verbal response of ‘I’m fine.’”

The simple task of emoji selection gives team members a moment for self-reflection, which has been found to positively impact performance. And those with higher self-awareness become more thoughtful in expressing their emotions, which results in a better accuracy of emoji selection to represent their given mood.

2. Build your own cognitive empathy.

Your employees’ emotions are a data point that can help you understand what motivates them and how they experience their work.

“How do I as a leader understand what my team is working on and how they’re feeling about their work when everybody is remote?” asks Luke Thomas, founder of software startup Friday.app. He decided to start using emojis as part of his weekly check-ins. He asks direct reports to select an emoji to indicate how their week went, and then follows up with open-ended questions, such as: What went well this week? What was the worst part of the week? Is there anything I can help with?

Thomas explains that these updates allow him to have richer one-on-one discussions and then act on his employees’ needs. “I spend less time doing status updates and check-ins, and more time engaged in building better relationships, removing blockers and coaching,” he says.

3. Model appropriate emotions.

Emotions are contagious, and research suggests they may be even more amplified in the digital space. Managing your team’s emotional state and mood is a critical element of leadership, and emojis can help leaders express and role model emotional cues suitable for certain situations.

One senior leader at a global consumer products company explained that he uses emojis and GIFs to help motivate his team members and colleagues: “I use them as “pick-me-ups” to energize and to drive positive moods and behaviors within my team.” He described a recent example of how he used a humorous GIF and emoji to bring a moment of levity to a challenging financial discussion that was taking place on an online chat. The digital cue served as a transition, enabling the discussion to be steered towards a more positive orientation.

Leaders can greatly influence an organization’s emotional culture. Using emojis that represent positive workplace emotions, such as happiness, pride, enthusiasm, and optimism, is a first step for leaders looking to effectively role-model digital cues.

4. Reinforce your company’s culture.

Organizations have emotional cultures that can impact everything from employee satisfaction to burnout to financial performance. Emojis can both reflect and enhance the emotional culture of your organization in your daily communications.

“Our corporate culture is very fun and friendly — we hug a lot,” shares a manager at a global home furnishings retailer. After moving to remote work, managers at the company had to find a new way to express this aspect of their culture. “We can’t close a single department meeting without sending emojis and GIFs. A lot of them,” one told us. If the emotional culture is ebullient, as was true for the one described above, emojis can be used liberally and without necessarily having the leader set the norm.

In other workplace cultures, leaders use emojis to reinforce their organization’s core values. Take the example of material science company, DuPont. “We like to show appreciation and recognition for each other, so I often use the applause emoji to recognize people’s accomplishments,” explains Lori Gettelfinger, a DuPont global brand leader.

Take the time to gauge your organization’s emotional culture, which may be codified in mission statements, values, and daily behaviors. Then think about digital gestures, such as emojis, that can help reinforce it.

Minimizing Opportunities for Offense

If you are new or hesitant to using emojis in the workplace, we advise starting with simple emojis (e.g., thumbs up) rather than emojis that represent complex emotions (e.g. laughing emojis with tears) in order to decrease the likelihood that an emoji will offend.

Offense usually stems from a misinterpretation of a sent emoji or when someone uses an emoji that they think means one thing but really means another. For example, if a manager sends the emoji that features two hands pressed together, does it send a message of gratitude? A request for a favor? Or is it hands clasped in prayer? And is the emoji with the smiling face and two hands signaling a friendly wave “hello” or giving a hug? If you’re not sure, better to avoid using the emoji and to stick with something that is more straightforward and less open to interpretation.

Employees don’t check their emotions at the office door — or Zoom room. And when you’re leading in a virtual space, it can be harder to read how your team is feeling. Using emojis can help managers connect with their employees and strengthen their organization’s emotional culture.

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Distributed work is here to stay — how your business can adapt

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It’s no secret that the business world and working environments have changed drastically since 2020. With fierce competition in recruiting for skilled labor becoming a critical issue for businesses, having employees in varied locations around the U.S. or even internationally has become an increasingly common solution. It looks like this distributed work model is here for the long haul, so it’s time to get your business on board.

What is distributed work?

Distributed work is defined as a business that has one or more employees who work in different physical locations. This can range from having different in-person office locations, remote work or a blend of the two — often termed “hybrid work.” Large companies having a distributed workforce is nothing new, as having multiple locations allows companies to meet more of their customers’ needs.

The difference now, though, is the massive increase in remote work triggered in large part by the COVID-19 pandemic, ramped-up competition for skilled workers, and how those factors have combined to impact smaller businesses.

If you’re struggling to keep up with today’s workforce demands, take heart. Distributed work can provide some solutions.

Millennial and Gen Z workers strongly prefer flexible working environments and a distributed work policy fits into that preference nicely. Additionally, distributed work structures have the benefits of increased access to international talent, more productive employees and higher job satisfaction.

How to adapt your small business for distributed work

Making the leap to a distributed workforce can feel daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. Software solutions tailored specifically for supporting a distributed work environment can help ease the transition and make your business run efficiently.

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at important adaptations needed to bring your small business up to speed for distributed work and how to accomplish them.

  • Get your business security up to date.
  • Tap into global talent pools.
  • Maintain quality communication between employees.

Let’s take a closer look at each point below.

Get your business security up to date

When remote work exploded in early 2020 due to COVID-19 office closures, it quickly became obvious that improvements to business security protocols were necessary. Now with many businesses planning how their company will operate going forward, security continues to be a crucial consideration.

What are some security considerations important for businesses with distributed work environments? Here are a handful of important security features you’ll want to think about:

1. Avoid losing business documents with automatic saves

The stress from losing hard work or entire documents altogether is something most people have dealt with at some point. Having to backtrack and redo lost work is tedious and unproductive.

The best way to avoid that ordeal? Automated saves.

With Microsoft 365, your Office documents are automatically saved for you. Whether it’s a document in the company Sharepoint or in your own OneDrive account, your hard work won’t go to waste.

Additionally, Sharepoint allows your company to collaborate on documentation without having to worry about whether the current document is the correct version. An average of 83% of the current workforce loses time daily due to document versioning issues. Microsoft 365 makes it easy to avoid lost time and frustration, with the added benefit of simplifying collaboration.

2. Maintain business security across all user devices

In the United States, 68% of organizations reported being hit by a public cloud security incident when polled in 2020. Attacks like these can cripple your business’ productivity and lower public perception of your company as a whole.

Both Sharepoint and OneDrive offer multiple layers of security to keep your business documentation safe on the cloud servers themselves, including:

  • Virus scanning for documents
  • Suspicious activity monitoring
  • Password protected sharing links
  • Real-time security monitoring with dedicated intrusion specialists
  • Ransomware detection and recovery

With these built-in protections, you can keep your company safe no matter where your company’s distributed work happens.

3. Adopt company-wide security policies

Effective company security policies protect your organization’s data by clearly outlining employee responsibilities with regard to what information needs to be safeguarded and why.

Having clear guidelines set ensures that both your company information and your employees are safe from security threats.

Items to include in your security policy might include:

  • Remote work policies
  • Password update policies
  • Data retention policies
  • Employee training guidelines
  • Disaster recovery policies

This list obviously isn’t exhaustive, so we’d recommend using a security risk assessment tool to pinpoint specific areas your business should address.

Note: Social engineering and phishing are major security threats for businesses of all sizes. To avoid becoming a target, your company must implement strong security practices for your users. For example, using a secure two-factor authentication setup can help prevent unauthorized users from accessing company documents.

4. Ensure communications are secured

Having a distributed work environment tends to mean that most (if not all) communications occur digitally. As such, keeping digital communications secure should be a top consideration.

Using Microsoft 365, you can ensure that your communication remains encrypted.

If video calls are a major part of your business needs, Microsoft Teams offers robust encryption for your calls. Additionally, email through Microsoft 365 offers top-tier anti-phishing protection for your business.

To learn more about available tools for secure business communication, refer to the Microsoft documentation here.

Tap into global talent pools

world map on a computer

The pandemic triggered a drastic reshuffling of how workers view their jobs, leading to what has been dubbed the Great Resignation. In the United States, more than 11 million jobs were sitting unfilled as of January 2022. With jobless claims on the decline, the domestic labor pool is small and competitive.

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed as a small company attempting to attract talent in the current labor market. You’ll want to ensure that you’re offering competitive wages and benefits, but it can be difficult to go toe-to-toe with large corporations.

However, this is another instance where distributed work can help. One solution? International talent.

The distributed work model makes employing remote workers worldwide more seamless than ever before.

A few considerations here to keep in mind, though.

  • You’ll need to apply for certification from the U.S. Department of Labor to hire outside the country.
  • Be aware of additional taxes that might result.

For more information, review the official documentation for this process.

Note: The same standards do not apply to international contractors, but there are special considerations for contractors as well. Read this guide for more details.

Maintain quality communication between employees

Successful businesses rely on open communication for everything from keeping employees up to date on company information to maintaining morale. Let’s go over a few ways to implement quality communication in a distributed work environment.

1. Cultivate a healthy work environment

Company culture can feel like an afterthought when your teams work separately from each other. However, cultivating a strong company culture is vital, especially for distributed work environments.

The first step here is to clearly define the company culture that you want. By setting the company standards early, your employees will be able to benefit from a solid starting point.

Second, reinforce the culture that you’d like to create. Setting goals, establishing performance metrics, fostering accountability, building trust with employees, and being open to feedback from workers all help reinforce a healthy company culture.

And third, it’s important to prioritize the mental and physical health of your employees. Encourage vacation time, allow for flexible working arrangements, and make mental health support a priority.

2. Foster open communication

Digital communication is key for distributed work environments, so keeping open and transparent channels for communication is imperative.

Email and chat tools are communication fundamentals, but fostering communication itself can feel a bit daunting.

Here are a few suggestions on building healthy communication for your distributed work teams:

  • Make empathy a priority.
  • Greet employees every day.
  • Create a virtual water cooler to encourage socialization.
  • Announce company updates directly.
  • Give recognition and feedback regularly.

By encouraging clear, focused — but also fun — communication, your teams will grow to trust each other and interteam collaboration can flourish.

Distributed work is the ‘new normal’

Building your business toward a distributed work model is a solid investment in growing your company in the future. Tools like Microsoft 365 offer an all-in-one solution to take the pain out of transitioning your business, so take charge of your business’ future today.



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