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Why reward and recognition is so important with a remote workforce

In light of the current COVID-19 outbreak and large sections of the workforce going remote as a result, it’s more important than ever that employers recognise employees who are working from home. When your employees are all in the same office, you might 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 humanised in the work they do and it serves as clear acknowledgement of the value they have provided to their team and the company.

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.

Make it easy for your remote workforce to communicate

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.

The Xexec rewards and recognition platform can also help you streamline the process of employee recognition. The platform includes:

  • Quick and easy options for peer-to-peer “Thank Yous”
  • The ability for managers to give instant awards to team members
  • Monthly, quarterly, and annual awards that can be nominated by either managers or employees, leading to company-wide recognition
  • Opportunities for employees to share and celebrate their achievements
  • More global recognition since the platform has multi-currency and multi-lingual options

There is also a wide range of options for rewards, including shopping, travel, entertainment, experiences, health and well-being, and charity donations. Plus, the platform is optimised for multiple devices, so employees can enjoy the benefits of recognition not just when at work, but also at home and when on the move.

Another option would be to connect with employees using a work social media group (although a possible downside to this is that it may encourage employees to spend time on social media doing non-work-related browsing). 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 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.

Engage your remote workforce with video calls 

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 recognising and appreciating them or as a way to incorporate employee recognition into your team meetings.

You may also want to recognise employees individually during a one-on-one video call (as this can feel much more personal and meaningful to some employees) or you can recognise 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. Keep in mind, as well, that some employees are comfortable with some forms of recognition and not others. When in doubt, ask employees what they prefer and keep your employee recognition consistent with the company culture (e.g. whether employees, in general, tend to communicate in small groups or one-on-one, rather than on a larger company scale).

In terms of the tools you use to recognise employees, Skype is a popular option, but increasingly, employees and managers are finding that alternatives like Zoom make video conferencing a smoother experience. Again, it’s always best to try out different software and then go with what most of your employees prefer.

Be specific when recognising employees

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. But while a simple “thank you” may be sincere, it may not feel personal or specific enough to make an employee feel appreciated for their work.

Since “thank yous” are so standard in emails, they can often become more like a polite acknowledgement than a meaningful form of employee recognition. So, 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.

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 remote employees understand, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain employee engagement when everyone is working separated from each other in their own homes. 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.

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

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