Money & Business

How to Recognize Your Staff in the Virtual Environment

By / Oct 7, 2020 (sturti/E+/Getty Images Plus)

As many associations continue to work remotely, recognizing and rewarding staff in a virtual world has become a hot topic. Making employees feel valued can be as simple as kind words or as elaborate as treats delivered to their doorsteps.

With the virtual environment expected to continue for many associations for the near future, some are looking for ways to make sure they continue staff recognition efforts.

In a recent Collaborate thread [ASAE member login required], association executives discussed rewards they’d offered to staff, ranging from candy to at-home campfire smores kits and plates of bacon. While Achurch Consulting CEO Rebecca Achurch, PgMP, PMP, CSM, CAE, said the post had a lot of good ideas, she added that recognition works best in frequent doses of communication, but treats also have their place, especially in times like these when staff are knocking it out of the park.

“It’s for major milestones or a significant achievement,” she said. “Think about organizations that are turning their in-person meetings into virtual meetings and the level of effort going with that. That’s a major achievement. It’s something that is going to build the team up versus feeling like, ‘It’s Thanksgiving; I have to send everyone something.’”

When sending items to staff, it’s helpful to allow for some individuality. “You need it to be more personal, so someone doesn’t say, ‘Eww bacon. Bacon is not my thing,’” Achurch said. “If you want to send something, you can say, ‘Here are five things you can choose from,’ so not everyone feels like it’s a homogenous gift.”

Or organizations can send a similar, but personalized gift. Achurch recently sent her team Fall facemasks that she handpicked to fit their personality. “It says we’re all in this together,” she said. “Everyone got something different, but it felt cohesive.”

For groups that have some staff working at the office and others remotely, it’s a good idea to make sure there is parity. “When you bring in lunch to the office, you can send food certificates to those at home or tell them to order lunch and expense it,” Achurch said.

While gifts are great for special occasions, Achurch said those aren’t the primary things making your team feel valued. “It’s not about the gifts necessarily. It’s not about the money; it’s about the intention,” she said. “It’s about the authenticity of the appreciation of the work that is done.”

She said managers should be communicating regularly with staff, offering positive feedback for the work they do, not just demands. “If the only time you ever pick up the phone to call them is when you need something, then why are they going to answer the phone?” Achurch asked.

In addition, she recommended touching base with staff at least once a week, and it doesn’t have to be a long chat. “Say, ‘I just want to let you know you did a great job,’” Achurch said.

She also suggested praising people in front of the team at monthly meetings or through other communication channels used by your organization. “I don’t think things have to cost money,” Achurch said. “I believe a genuine authentic appreciation far outweighs any gift that you can give them.”

When you recognize staff through praise, good communication, and the occasional milestone gift, the results will be clear.

“You know you’re doing it right because your team has an ease of working together,” Achurch said. “You are building high trust. There is greater transparency. They are willing to share good news as well as not so good news.”

How are you recognizing your staff in the remote office environment? Share in the comments.

Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is an associate editor at Associations Now. She covers money and business. Email her with story ideas or news tips. More »

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