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7 remote employee hiring mistakes – and how to avoid them

You’d think hiring remote employees would be no different than hiring people who work on-site, but you would likely be very mistaken. The pandemic-fueled need and desire to beef up remote and hybrid work arrangements has created a different hiring environment. And nearly every organization faces it.

Two-thirds of leaders in the Microsoft Work Trend Index said they’re redesigning their workplaces to accommodate more hybrid and remote work. Those decisions are somewhat fueled by employees’ and candidates’ desires for flexibility. Nearly 60% of them want to work remotely all the time, and about 35% want a hybrid work environment, according to research from FlexJobs.

In fact, The FlexJobs 10th Annual Survey found that 44% of respondents say they know at least one person who has quit or is planning to quit because their employers are requiring them to work from the office. The same survey also revealed that 24% of workers say the ability to work from home is so important to them that they are willing to take a 10-20% pay cut to work remotely, and 21% would give up some vacation time.

Here are seven mistakes HR pros want to avoid when hiring remote employees:

Not selling your company

Some HR and company leaders think the ability to work remotely is the ultimate selling point to job candidates. But more companies than ever allow it. So working from home isn’t the exciting, unique perk that it once was (before COVID-19). You still want to consciously sell your company and its culture when hiring remote employees.

“The job seeker has a big decision to make too,” says Carol Cochran, FlexJobs’ VP of People & Culture. “What do you want to share about the company, the team, and the role that will help them decide?”

Use all the selling tactics you normally would with candidates who interview and potentially work on-site. For instance:

  • Give virtual tours of the facility
  • Explain candidates’ professional and career growth opportunities
  • Highlight your company culture and how it came about
  • Share the company mission and show how it impacts customers and your community, and
  • Show how teams and colleagues bond and work together toward common goals.

Limiting the skill set

Remote employees will need a special set of skills – some that you might not have checked as thoroughly with on-site employees.

Sure, you still want to make sure candidates’ skills, experience and problem-solving capabilities fit the role. And almost all employees need a certain level of soft skills. But fully and partially remote employees will need amplified versions of those skills.

Remote employees don’t have their boss popping in their home office to see how things are going, so they need the discipline and skills to stay focused and get their work done. So you’ll want to double-down on efforts to screen remote candidates for communication style, self-motivation and accountability.

Ask applicants about the remote-specific skills you find valuable such as Zoom etiquette, project updating, email response time, etc.

Narrowing expectations

Similar to expanding the soft skill expectations for remote employees, you’ll want to also think broader at experience and hands-on skill sets.

Avoid narrow requirements. For instance, if Slack is your messaging platform or Microsoft is your operating system, don’t automatically eliminate candidates who don’t have those listed on their resumes. Many people with experience in one platform can pick up enough proficiency to handle another in a short time. Then they can master what you need as time goes on.

You can determine if candidates have those transferable skills through either your existing problem-solving, critical thinking and listening tests or with those created just for remote work.

Setting up for failure

Some candidates seek remote work because they want to work only when they want to work. Then they accept jobs and are disappointed – perhaps enough to quit – because they’re expected to work specific, regular hours. That’s just one potential miscue on expectations for remote employees.

So setting expectations early in the hiring process is critical for recruiting remote employees.

Be upfront and honest about specific hours and days, anticipated goals and collaboration expectations. Clarify those throughout the hiring process and include them in your terms of employment.

Candidates who don’t like rules around remote work will self-select out of the process, leaving you with the candidates who can do it.

Lacking remote perks

Remote employees want to feel the love, too. But they don’t get to experience some of the small and big perks employees on-site do. However, they do save on commute time and gas costs, which right now might be fairly important.

Doughnut day may seem insignificant, but it brings people together in a way that makes remote employees feel like outsiders. And if there’s on-site child care or dry cleaning pick up and delivery, remote employees miss out on convenience. So in addition to your standard benefits such as medical, PTO and 401k, consider offering remote-friendly perks. Try also setting up a zoom session for inclusion of the remote team members when gathering at the office, being able to connect, chat and say hello can make a world of difference.

Recruiting the same ways

Finding candidates for remote positions might call for new recruiting strategies. People still scan the big job boards and sites, adding “remote” or “hybrid” to their search. That brings up more job openings than ever.

That means, if you post a remote position, you’ll likely get more applicants than ever. But that doesn’t mean you’ll get the right candidates applying for our openings, which only makes finding a good employee more difficult. Stick with your successful job site posts. Then consider trying a remote work-specific job site.

Ghosting applicants

You don’t want candidates ghosting you. So HR leaders want to build a system, perhaps working with your Applicant Tracking System (ATR) vendor, to stay in touch on a regular cadence with applicants – up to and including the decision to hire or not. “Applicants deserve responses,” says Cochran, “regardless of how far in your process they get.”

Regardless of whether you are hiring for in office or remote or hybrid work, HR leaders need to be clear and upfront about the hiring process each step of the way, this rapport with new team members sets the tone for the business relationship.

reprinted in part edited for content 04.2022 ManagedPAY

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