Employee Retention In The Remote Age

Ann Hollins Headshot
Photo Courtesy of Ann Hollins
As more of the workforce is working from home, leaders may need to reevaluate their HR programs to facilitate engagement and retention, says Vertex chief people officer Ann Hollins.

With continued prominence of flexible work, strategies surrounding retention and engagement may look different. Successful HR programs are the ones meeting the needs of the remote workforce, prioritizing support and flexibility.  

Ann Hollins, chief people officer at Vertex, a global provider of indirect tax solutions, approaches these issues from several different angles—enhancing benefits and wellness programs in order to put people first.  

In the post-Covid pandemic world that includes high levels of remote employees, what HR programs prove most successful to increase employee engagement?

Successful HR programs meet the needs of the remote workforce, which currently consists of a variety of people in all phases of life—including caregivers, working parents and young professionals—who prioritize support and flexibility. Therefore, programs like work from almost anywhere and unlimited PTO are popular and help maintain an engaged staff. Our strategic and purposeful use of office space to facilitate collaboration and alignment has also successfully increased employee engagement. 

Additionally, enhanced benefits like fertility benefits and access to wellness vendors like caregiver marketplaces and fitness platforms, combined with flexible work and PTO policies provide remote workers with the support they need to balance their caregiving responsibilities and jobs. We also receive key insights from our total health business resource group, which focuses on identifying and advocating for solutions that help employees thrive at work and at home.

How did Vertex pivot to address retention and hiring efforts in a remote work environment? What about from a global perspective?

We approached retention from various angles. Our expanded benefits and salary bands provide employees with competitive total rewards packages that help them care for themselves and their families, and it also acknowledges their contributions to Vertex’s success. We also enhanced many of our wellness programs to be truly global, adding fertility benefits, mental health resources and business travel accident insurance.

In terms of hiring efforts, our remote-first workplace and unlimited PTO policy interest many potential employees. We have also globally expanded our candidate sourcing capabilities and continue to collaborate across the enterprise to identify a diverse and high-performing talent pool to add to Vertex’s overall success.

What is one culture quality that makes Vertex’s workforce unique?

Vertex was founded as a family-owned business, grown through a genuine care and concern for our people and our customers. That culture continued as we became a publicly traded company. We are driven by our values and the “Vertex Winning Way,” which reinforces our commitment to our most valuable assets—our employees.

We also place a high value on trust. The trust our partners extend to us and the trust we have in each other. Our annual employee engagement survey continues to demonstrate a growing sense of belonging among our team via the increase in the belonging score year-over-year.

DEIB efforts—the B standing for Belonging—have become focal points for many HR teams over the past few years. How does Vertex integrate these efforts into all aspects of the company?

Vertex’s People + Culture team made the conscious decision to weave DEIB into everything we do, starting with recruitment, talent assessments and enhancing our business resource group programs. We also incorporate DEIB principles and practices into our performance management and compensation programs, such as conducting pay equity analysis from a total rewards perspective. Our global DEIB strategy is a priority topic regularly discussed among our executive team and our board of directors.

This is only the beginning as we continue to discover more ways to incorporate the practice in more areas of our work. In future phases, we aim to launch a diversity recruitment program and review our vendors to ensure they reflect the celebrated differences of our employees and customers.

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