Two years ago, Forrester Research said that over 63 million Americans will work virtually, compared to 2010 when there were 34 million flexible and virtual workers. The COVID-19 pandemic is making this number jump even higher when it comes to employees working remotely.
It’s likely your organization has an ever-growing offline or remote workforce, especially given the current conditions we’re living in.
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees are finding temporary remote working as the new normal. It’s more important than ever to reach these employees so they feel supported and connected to the business through frequent updates, as well as appreciated for the hard work they’re doing from afar.
As leaders, we have an opportunity to elevate recognition and connect people to our organizations and to one another. Here are three ideas for recognizing remote employees to foster deeper connections and maintain company culture.
1. Identify your recognition goals
Recognition isn’t a tick-box solution, but rather a way to help you reach your long-term employee engagement goals. It’s important to ask yourself what you want to see more of in your organization so you know what to be looking out for.
Perhaps you can recognize people for checking in on colleagues and offering help or recognizing team members that use innovation to solve problems and meet deadlines despite disruptions. You could also start off virtual meetings by asking the team what they think should be happening more and this may help you identify those behaviors.
When your people feel appreciated and motivated, productivity and employee wellbeing for remote workers improve. Take some time to outline your recognition goals and care for your people, they’ll be more likely to care for others (including your customers) and stay focused on their role and higher purpose.
2. Encourage manager participation
There’s a strong correlation between manager-led recognition and employee motivation, productivity and overall wellbeing. And this is especially true for employees who don’t have physical “face-to-face” time with their managers.
Recognizing remote employees not only boosts intrinsic motivation, but also improves employee connections across the entire organization.
During unprecedented times, people may feel isolated, lonely or overwhelmed and on top of it, they’re still expected to produce high-quality work. The true power of recognition is being appreciative of individuals and the team as a whole to make a big difference in how connected and valued people feel.
Is remote working making it harder to spot great work? Ask, “what are you most proud of?” when you meet with your team to highlight opportunities to recognize.
Encourage your managers to dedicate specific time each week to recognizing someone on their team. I like to block time off on my calendar so I know that on Friday mornings, I spend a half-hour of my day recognizing people and it’s a great way to start the day!
3. Create a digital space to share recognition
Having a digital space to share recognition can help employees feel less isolated, and more connected to their team members and the wider business.
While a feel-good eCard or personal note is never a bad thing, organizations can use recognition strategically in times of uncertainty to drive specific behaviors that the business needs. We’ve seen people come together and create visibility on employee contributions during these challenging times.
Let’s dive into a few examples to bring this to life:
Missguided, a retail organization with over 300 employees, launched new "Positivity" eCards from #TeamMissguided with the goal of keeping people connected while working from home with these strategic behaviors.
Columbus Global UK Limited, a technology business, worked with Reward Gateway to create a new eCard, helping to improve recognition for remote employees and bring people closer together despite location.
Here at Reward Gateway, we’ve also implemented our own eCards for our 400+ staff across 7 countries, to show our people that we support them and connections are more important than ever.
And although digital recognition programs are key to improving employee engagement, there’s something to be said about a physical certificate. Even though employees are working remotely, there’s still an opportunity to make the reward experience extra special.
With award certifications for nominations, not only can you reduce the administrative burden by bulking nominations together and sending them all out at once, but you can mail these to your people’s homes so they feel connected even from afar. Alternatively, employees can choose to spruce up their home office and print out their branded nomination at home to hang up to stay more connected to the company values.
Thinking into the future and beyond our current situation, it’s essential that we shine a spotlight on those who are going above and beyond in our organizations. Those who are modeling core behaviors now are more likely to stay with your organization and will be our champions in the long run.
Now more than ever, we need to make sure that achievements are recognized and visible throughout the entire business. The world we’re living in isn’t the one we’re used to, but that doesn’t mean we can’t embrace innovation and creativity to find new ways to recognize and support our people. I hope these examples have given you inspiration to recognize your own remote employees and foster stronger connections because we’re stronger together.
If you want to learn more about how HR leaders can connect, recognize and support employees, check out our latest webinar below.