Remote workers are woven into the fabric of today’s workforces. It’s time to ensure that your talent management software works for remote workers, too.
For many companies, remote workers are now woven into the fabric of the company’s workforce and operations. More than two years ago, a global COVID pandemic prompted a sudden mass exodus from traditional office spaces to home offices. Since then, employers, employees, and customers have adapted to the technologies and processes that support digital collaboration and customer service. Today, it’s time to optimize – including ensuring that your talent management software works as well for remote workers as for on-site employees.
What is Talent Management?
The terms “talent management” and “performance management” are often used interchangeably to describe the practice of guiding employees to thrive in their jobs. Yet the terms and practices are quite distinct, with performance management being one component of talent management.
Technology research and consulting firm Gartner defines talent management as, “the attraction, selection, and retention of employees, which involves a combination of HR processes across the employee life cycle. It encompasses workforce planning, employee engagement, learning and development, performance management, recruiting, onboarding, succession and retention.”
Talent management is a strategic initiative that requires executives, human resource teams, and managers to collaborate on determining goals and policies. Typically, leadership teams work closely with their human resources teams for workforce planning efforts. Human resources professionals are primarily responsible for recruiting, onboarding, and retention programs. Line managers, with support from HR, work with individuals and groups for employee engagement, learning and development, performance management, and succession.
It’s always important that HR policies and practices are inclusive of employees of all backgrounds. Talent management is no exception and now must be inclusive of on-site, remote, and hybrid workers – with best practices and tools to support the unique needs of remote and hybrid workers.
It Takes More Than Performance Management for Remote Workers to Thrive
From all indications, remote work is here to stay. When Americans have the chance to work flexibly, 87 percent of them take it, ideally spending an average of three days a week at home, says this The Verge article on a new McKinsey study. But remote work isn’t as idyllic as many expect. Yes, remote workers spend less time and money on commuting and office work and more time with family and friends. Yet it can be more difficult for remote employees to learn, collaborate with others, build relationships with teammates, and stay engaged and motivated to work when they are away from the formal and informal connection points that traditionally happen in a shared office environment. And, despite intentions to be inclusive, employers have been slower to promote remote workers than employees who work on site.
Companies know they need to provide career opportunities and support for all employees. It’s tempting to claim talent management victory after successfully completing performance management evaluations for on-site, remote, and hybrid workers. But conducting performance evaluations remotely is a relatively straightforward process and performance reviews are single, point-in-time interactions. Performance management involves much more than annual or quarterly reviews. And talent management is more than performance management. Most managers (and employees) need to build new skills to overcome the challenges that remote employees face.
Unique Needs of Remote Workers
Remote employees are not automatically pulled into the rhythms and routines of in-person work environments. From onboarding through day-to-day workload to promotion opportunities, remote workers have unique needs related to many elements of job success:
- Routines. Even if remote daily schedules don’t directly map to in-person plans, creating a daily routine is key to success.
- Communication. Without the informal opportunity to connect with others, remote communications (written and verbal; formal and informal; synchronous and asynchronous) need to be intentional.
- System and technology support. “Remote employees who receive minimal introduction to new systems … will feel desolated,” emphasizes this Entrepreneur article. Remote workers may need extra support to configure, practice, learn, and implement new software and processes.
- Collaboration. While working independently may be easier at remote locations without the interruptions of colleagues at work, remote workers often miss out on the collaboration that happens when teams work together in a shared physical space.
- Learning and development. Building knowledge and skills is essential for every employee. For remote workers – especially newer employees – it takes extra effort to ensure the development of knowledge and skills beyond independent learning experiences.
- Recognition and career advancement. The old adage, “out of sight, out of mind,” is at the heart of remote working challenges. Remote and hybrid workers need at least the same recognition from teammates and managers as their on-site colleagues – and equitable career advancement opportunities.
Company executives, HR managers, direct line managers, and employees need to work together to ensure that the remote work arrangement is successful. Having the right talent management system can support all parties in optimizing employee skills, experiences, and outcomes.
Benefits of Talent Management Software That Works for Remote Workers
After identifying talent management goals and the unique challenges of remote workers, check to see whether your systems and software are promoting productivity and engagement or getting in the way. The same Entrepreneur article urges managers to ask themselves, “How can I use technology, and a bit of leadership skills to get my employees to feel motivated?”
A talent management solution llike Avilar’s WebMentor Skills can ensure managers and employees are aligned on their goals and success measurements in today’s remote and hybrid working world. WebMentor Skills provides instant visibility into employees’ skills and competencies and a shared, skills-based approach to talent management. Having the right competency-based talent management software for remote workers in place delivers numerous benefits, including:
- Regular check-ins. A daily or weekly online check-in can let a manager know when remote employees are okay and when there’s something they need or an obstacle to be removed. Regular check-ins can take the place of some of the informal check-ins that typically happen in an office setting.
- Shared awareness of skills. Remote workers and managers have a shared snapshot of current skills at any time, supporting employee-manager conversations about performance, career goals and opportunities, and learning and development goals.
- Natural performance conversations. Skills assessments help to capture what employees are doing well now and where there are gaps. Remote employees can easily repeat assessments at any time, helping to highlight progress and skills mastery. With that information, performance reviews become natural, ongoing conversations about how the employee is performing, whether they are on track for their goals, and what else they need to succeed.
- Individual learning plans. When remote employees and their managers agree about goals, they can create individual learning plans that work. Those plans may incorporate a learning management system, such as Avilar’s WebMentor LMS, that can be directly tied to a skills-based talent management system to ensure that the learning targets the desired skills. Mentoring, remote and in-person experiences, and formal training can all contribute to closing the skills gaps and ensuring that remote workers are learning what they need to succeed.
- Team connection and recognition. Some talent management systems can be configured to allow feedback from teammates and colleagues. Managers who encourage, share, and celebrate this kind of feedback will strengthen individual engagement and build collaborative teams.
Ultimately, you’ll want your talent management system to seamlessly support your remote workers and their managers as they work together – helping to overcome the oft-invisible barriers of remote employees’ visibility, successes, and opportunities.
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