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January 20, 2021
Mat Vogels

Employee Recognition Programs for Remote Companies

Recognizing the good work of employees is essential for keeping your people happy. In many ways, support from management can go a long way. Benefits and salary are obviously important, but if employees feel like their good work is unrecognized, it could be the factor that will make them update their resume and start talking with recruiters.

This is one of several reasons why employee recognition is essential for organizations that want to recruit and retain the best talent on the market. While there are standard practices established for showing appreciation for workers in a traditional office setting, what happens when workers go remote and are spread far and wide, some in competing time zones? In this piece, we will look at why employee recognition is important in this new normal of telework and how companies can retain mobile employees. 

How Important is Employee Recognition?

In the highly-competitive global marketplace where companies are vying for the top talent, employee recognition is more relevant than ever before for the following reasons;

It helps companies grow. What prevents company growth is a lack of innovation, unmotivated employees, and a rotating door of talent, among other things. Recognizing employees help reverse those things and encourages employees to commit to pushing the company to the next stage of success. 

It promotes company values. How will employees know what their company values if they aren’t recognized for it? By rewarding certain activities or ethical practices, an organization can instill in its workforce what is ultimately important for leadership. 

It aligns performance benchmarks with company goals. Recognition programs are designed to create a clear path for individual success, but that path also must align with overall company success. Establishing these programs will strengthen the direction of employees in their continued work.

It helps retain and grow talent. Believe it or not, an employee will stay at a company if they feel supported and recognized, even if their salary does not precisely match where they want to be. That’s because the day-to-day interaction with colleagues and management is important. If the culture feels wrong, they’ll leave.

It provides opportunities for career development. Recognition is not just rewarding the quality of work, but it also creates the opportunity to improve and grow. Think of it as a pause for both the employee and leadership to recognize areas of improvement and to establish opportunities for new training or pathways for continued growth up the ladder. 

What should employees be recognized for?

Employee recognition programs are designed to both complement and reinforce best practices within the company. Here are aspects of employee work that can be highlighted in this process.

Exceptional Quality. Does your employee pay attention to details, work well with others, help encourage the best in others? Are they talented at their work, do they stop malfunctions or stoppages before they take place? Do customers or clients let you know how much they enjoyed their interactions with them? Do they bring in new business? All of these questions are good ones to ask when establishing the output of your workers. Those who go beyond what is required and help raise the bar for your practice are those who should get immediate recognition.

Efficiency. Poor workers will let projects drag longer than they should. Or they create or cause errors in the process or find they have to repeat steps time and again to get to the same outcome. Efficiency not only saves time and energy, but it also leads to innovation.

Steady Production. Is your output better than it was a year ago? If so, who are the high producers? Recognizing the people who are helping lead to faster sales growth will help raise the bar for everyone on the team.

Innovation. Employees that take initiative to figure out how to do things better, faster, and more efficiently deserve recognition. These are the people who will think “out of the box” and push efforts to the next level. You want a workforce of people who solve problems in new ways because, besides helping your bottom line, it will reflect a company that is on the leading edge of innovation in more ways than one.

Ethical behavior. There’s no doubt that employees who are committed to ethical practices help companies avoid harmful litigation and other problems that could expose them to risk. Integrity is not something that can be taught, it’s something inherent to the individual’s background and their set of beliefs. Creating a reward program honoring ethical behavior will help enforce that rules, regulation, compliance, and safety matter.

How to Show Employee Recognition for Remote Workers

Remote employees deserve recognition just as those in traditional work environments. The “new normal” of telecommuting makes this more relevant as remote work can cause some employees to feel cut off from the company, leadership, and peers. For these reasons, it’s important to continue employee recognition programs and to tailor them for workers working from home.

Because remote work has changed the dynamics of how employees interact with one another and perform their work, employee recognition programs need to look at qualities that deserve the recognition that may not have played as important of a role as before. For example: 

Positive attitudes. The world has been in a crisis over the last year and it continues to be unrelenting. Employees who make an extra effort to lift the spirits of their peers are important in making sure the team remains supportive and productivity does not fall.

Technical collaboration. For some employees, getting used to virtual working can be a challenge. Collaboration via a broadband connection may not be something they are used to doing. Employees that boost these skills and help others ease into this new environment are valuable, not just for making sure the transition is seamless, but also in keeping morale high.  

Resourcefulness. We are learning as we are going in this new normal. This requires, for some, a high level of resourcefulness in solving new problems or finding different ways to do things that fit our heightened level of connectivity.

Overcoming personal challenges. Some members of your remote team may be doing a high level of work while at the same time dealing with extraordinary circumstances: Caring for a sick loved one at home, homeschooling their children, or other obligations created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognition of those challenges will go a long way, especially for employees who have served as quiet heroes for your team.

How do I recognize employees without money?

During an economic downturn, it may be a challenge for organizations to reward employees with bonuses or a boost in salary. Budget constraints, however, shouldn’t mean your company fails to reward the top performance of your remote employees.

As mentioned earlier, when good employees feel valued they are most likely to remain at companies even if their salary is not exactly at the level they feel they deserve. Good management and a supportive staff are factors that lead to a positive overall culture — And a good culture is something you can’t put a price tag on. 

Here are options for budget-conscious companies to use to reward remote employees:

  • A personal thank you note or video from a CEO or top senior leader.
  • A special year-long reserved parking spot once work resumes at the office..
  • A virtual ceremony involving the entire company. 
  • Personalized card of thanks signed by the entire company.
  • A video compilation involving team member testimonials about the employee.
  • Flowers or another gift sent to their home.
  • A free day, or multiple days, off work.

Creativity is key. Recognizing employees for the good work that they do, especially during a moment of crisis, is important. What you need to remember is to make it personal, from the heart, and public, so everyone on the team knows their company supports them, both in good times and in times where everyone is feeling challenged.

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