As we approach the one-year mark of the pandemic, millions of employees have hit a breaking point, and employers are beginning to see the fallout from 2020.

According to Beqom's 2021 Compensation and Culture Report, 40 percent of employees plan to quit their jobs this year due to how their employers managed Covid-19.

As employers devise strategies for a post-pandemic world, the question remains: What can leaders do to retain their remote employees?

This is a question leaders have been grappling with for decades, as managers account for a 70 percent variance in employee engagement, according to Gallup. 

The answer is not as difficult as it seems. It has always come down to the types of relationships between bosses and their employees that lead to success and results.

1. Treat employees like humans

Leaders must find a way to connect to their people and connect their team members with each other. It is crucial for both employee mental health and high performance. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to build community and connect as humans, rather than merely employees spinning in a hamster wheel.

2. Show your true, authentic self

Authentic leaders are open to input from others. They are transparent, self-aware, and seek to understand themselves and others to quickly problem-solve to an agreed solution. They maintain a high level of integrity and develop more productive relationships than their less authentic counterparts.

3. Let others take the wheel

To be an effective leader in 2021 means sharing your power and decision making by creating more leaders within the organization. Step one is to build your employees' competence in their particular areas of responsibility or interest, then push your authority down to empower them to take the lead. This creates a leader-leader culture, not a leader-follower culture of worker bees in a top-down hierarchy. 

4. Keep improving your communication skills

Warren Buffett has given us plenty of sound advice over his lifetime. In a 2019 interview with Yahoo Finance editor-in-chief Andy Serwer, Buffett said: "By far the best investment you can make is in yourself." He added that investing in developing your communication skills -- both in writing and in-person -- "can increase your value by at least 50 percent." That's good advice. The best leaders are the ones who communicate clearly and consistently. 

5. Make your digital world more real

Remember those casual conversations around the water cooler? They're things of the past but they were the emotional glue that aligned people and generated empathy. In this new world of digital connections, it's helpful to insert breakouts in your Zoom and Teams meetings. Have your team members spend five minutes discussing how they solved their biggest challenge during the past week. Perhaps before (or after) a formal meeting, make any big announcements that celebrate teammates and give kudos to each other. Always think of new ways to connect people virtually, as they would have done in-person.