Leadership

4 Reasons to Rethink Employee Recognition in the Remote Work Era

By / Jun 8, 2020 (Scar1984/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Many workers feel isolated or neglected when working remote, in part because it’s easy for leaders to overlook accomplishments when the team isn’t together. Here are some ways to make sure that doesn’t happen at your association.

Employee recognition often occurs in public—during all-hands meetings, in office celebrations, even via email messages from organizational leaders. But when the team isn’t together in the workplace, employees need to be recognized in different ways. Here’s why:

“Out of sight, out of mind” is a huge risk right now. In more typical times, when most employees are at the office, it’s easy for leaders to overlook the important work contributed by a small number of remote employees. This oversight is even more of a danger when everyone is working remote, notes Melissa Meunier of Engage 2 Excel. “The most important thing to remember is that what we’ve been used to, when we worked in our offices, the manufacturing plants, etc., is the opportunity to see one another,” Meunier writes. “Everyone was visible; their work was visible. Now people are sequestered away in their homes, and we don’t have the same visibility or connection opportunities.” And that can lead to gaps in appreciation.

Remote employees need affirmation and empathy. Employer empathy is a huge factor in employee satisfaction, and it’s increasingly important for organizations to show their staff that they care, says Kevin Yip of the employee reward platform Blueboard, in comments to Built In. “We hear our companies shifting focus to, ‘How do we engage, motivate, and retain our people now?’” he says. “We always talk about this idea of organizational empathy. Right now, it’s incredibly important to meet your people where they are.”

Recognition can help build team camaraderie. When everyone is working apart, team events—for example, happy hours—that highlight good work and achievements help ensure that staffers know they’re all in this together, writes Andrew Martins of Business.com. “For instance, you may not be able to have a catered lunch together, but you can hold a daily lunch meeting over the internet,” he says. “Perhaps you could host an employee appreciation event like trivia night, play a Jackbox game together over the internet, or open a special room in Slack to share the best memes your staff can find on social media. You could also consider scheduling an online meeting to chat over drinks at the end of each week.”

Employees already feel underappreciated. It’s one thing to recognize your own team—but another entirely when the whole C-suite shows appreciation, notes Kellie Wong on Business 2 Community. “Recognition from leadership boosts employee morale and encourages positive behavior by setting an example,” she writes. Wong cites research from the firm Achievers [PDF] that finds that 30 percent of employees think that leaders don’t value recognition, and 58 percent think the worker/employee relationship would improve if there were more recognition. “Recognition from leadership is especially crucial in times of difficulty,” Wong adds. “Words of positivity, support, and appreciation for team efforts help employees focus on moving forward.”

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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