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How can employee recognition help with a hybrid way of working?

Business as usual has been severely disrupted due to Covid-19 and the multitude of restrictions, lockdowns and social distancing laws which have been enforced. With organisations forced to shut without much notice, HR and management teams had to ensure remote working happened almost instantaneously. Many organisations had little infrastructure to accommodate this massive shift and were not set up to work from home. Within a short period, companies adapted and the majority of employees were house-bound and a new way of working was formulated to best accommodate everyone's circumstances, with families at home, limited space and homeschooling.

Many employees have preferred the flexibility this type of working has brought. They are spending more time working, instead of commuting. They are able to help with the kids and general household things, whilst working around the tasks at hand. With this flexible working, many employees landed up working a lot longer than simply 9am-5pm, as the boundaries between work and personal lives started to blur. 

So, what is hybrid working?
Now, as things start to open up and restrictions are starting to lift, many organisations are adapting a hybrid way of working, instead of expecting everyone to be in the office, like yesteryear. Hybrid working is a very flexible business working model which allows employees to work both in the office as well as at home. Many companies are starting to iron out their hybrid model for each team and department, for example onsite for 3 days and home for 2 days, or two weeks in the office, two weeks at home. The variety of hybrid working structures is role dependent. Hybrid working focuses on creating a workspace which accommodates both the employee, employer and maintains the company culture.

There are a host of benefits which hybrid working brings with it. It allows a significant improvement in a work-life balance, it fosters creative thinking, there's less chance of absenteeism and getting ill working directly next to each other. Companies can cut their rent costs by hiring out smaller areas and employees can hot-desk, without disrupting working patterns or revenue. If employees aren't in the office daily, they can move further out where it is more cost-efficient. Employers also have access to a larger talent pool from across the country or even abroad if the role does not have to be office based. 

However, so too, do disadvantages come with this new way of working. There is limited visibility between employees and management and their respective teams. In addition, employees may be doing different working hours so they are not always online with their teammates. Collaboration may be harder when not everyone is together in one space, working on a joint task / project.  

Just as hybrid working might lead to a divided workforce, the model could also dilute your company culture. Employees can easily loose sight of the values which are more observable when all together. With this in mind, having a dedicated employee recognition programme in place can most certainly bring employees closer, merging the discrepancies which this dispersion has brought.

When your employees are all in the same office, you know exactly how to recognise them for their work and accomplishments. In person, you can physically thank them (individually or in a meeting). This kind of face-to-face form of employee recognition helps to make employees feel humanized in the work they do and it serves as clear acknowledgement of the value they have provided to their team and the company. However, with a remote workforce, you can’t do this, but it doesn’t mean you can still make sure that employees’ hard work and achievements are recognised in an effective and timely manner.

Fortunately, there are many ways to recognise employees when they are all working remotely. Here are some methods to consider implementing:

Easy communication to / from remote workforce
Email is the obvious way you may decide to send your appreciation for an employee’s work. But it’s not the only way. You want to ensure that you make it as easy as possible for employees to communicate with their manager and their co-workers. By diversifying your means of communication and connecting on different platforms, you will be able to recognise your remote workforce in a more regular way. For example, as well as email forms of employee recognition, try using communication and collaboration tools like Trello and Slack. With these tools, you can create group chats where employees can message each other in real-time.

Test out different forms of communication and see what resource best helps your employees communicate in an easy and reliable way. Smooth communication is essential for effective employee recognition. When you have a remote and hybrid workforce, there is always the risk that employees will feel isolated and lacking in recognition, but keeping everyone as connected as possible will allow you to avoid or mitigate this problem.

Video face-to-face engagement
When employee recognition only takes place in the form of text (email, Slack, social media etc.) you lose out on vital elements of communication: the non-verbal cues of face-to-face interaction, as well as the intent and emotions conveyed by someone’s voice. For this reason, it can be helpful to plan regular video calls with your employees, either for the sole purpose of recognizing and appreciating them or as a way to incorporate employee recognition into your team meetings. You may also want to recognize employees individually during a one-on-one video call (as this can feel much more personal and meaningful to some employees) or you can recognize individual employees or teams as a whole during a group call (this has the benefit of ensuring company-wide recognition of an individual employee or workforce as a whole). Of course, combining these methods will allow you to reap the benefits of different forms of employee recognition. 

Specific recognition
Being specific in your recognition of employees will help to keep employees’ engaged and boost morale, motivation, and sense of purpose. As many employers with hybrid employees understand, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain employee engagement when everyone is working separated from each other in their own locations. However, specific and personal employee recognition is one way of tackling this problem, as it lets everyone working remotely know that their work is still making a positive impact and is appreciated by many.

It’s easy, simple, and quick to send a “thank you” to an employee by email or Slack when they have performed well, be that submitting an assignment before a deadline, going the extra mile in their tasks, achieving an impressive result, or making an effort to help co-workers, the team, or the manager. Whenever recognising an employee – be it via email, Slack, Facebook, or Zoom – make sure that you specifically say what you are recognising an employee for. You can do this by pointing out an accomplishment and the value it has for a co-worker, a team, a manager, and the organisation as a whole, or if someone is excelling on a personal level (e.g. showing the development of core or soft skills), you can highlight this too and show appreciation for the effort gone into – and broader value of – the employee’s personal development.

Feeling inspired?
It’s so easy for companies to get bogged down in the ebbs and flows of day-to-day working, and now trying to maintain a virtual workforce which comes with its multitude of new challenges, but taking time out to recognise, appreciate and say thank you to the team can go a long way. 

Employee recognition can help boost employee appreciation, engagement and business success. Download our free e-book to find out more.

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