How to give employee recognition in a remote team during the crisis

Dhiraj Nallapaneni

6 min read Last Updated Jul 21, 2020

employee recognition

The COVID-19 crisis is transforming the way we do business, affecting our purchase decisions and shifting where we work every day. To survive, the only option for businesses is to embrace the already growing trend of working remotely.

That is, if you hadn’t already, your company is now forced to ride the remote working wave, and this sudden transition to a fully remote working company can be tricky for employees who were habitually coming into an office every day.

But just because remote employees are out of sight doesn’t mean they should be out of mind. To keep every team member engaged, productive, and motivated, you must ensure their contributions are recognized. Below are some ideas on how to give employee recognition so they know they’re a valuable part of the company, regardless of where they’re working from.

Appreciate individual efforts and initiatives

Adapting to the new way of working can be difficult, which is why it’s important to reward specific efforts you would like to see more of. It shows appreciation while motivating other employees to follow the same.

For example, do you have an employee who is proactive in communication, even when working from home? Write them a personalized message to show your appreciation of that employee’s ability to remain energetic and available from their new work environment. This will reinforce the value of communication throughout your new remote team and motivate the employee who is already succeeding.

It is also a good idea to have individual recognition in a company-wide public setting. This means you should be celebrating wins, accomplishments, and desirable behavior in a public channel like Slack, Zoom, or Skype so you can encourage other employees to engage with the recognition as well. When sent publicly, recognition drives motivation further for everyone on the team, leading to more of the same good behavior in the future from other employees too.

Plus, your employees get a chance to socialize together and get that in-office feeling they might be lacking at home. The extra facetime will help reduce the sense of loneliness remote workers may often feel.

Simply put, employees would love to know that their individual efforts are being recognized and valued. If an employee exceeds expectations, takes an initiative, or goes above and beyond to complete a task, you must show your gratitude that specifically points out their accomplishment.

Give employees local gift cards

As you know, many local businesses are struggling to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic due to forced closures. A great way to give employee recognition while also supporting these businesses is by purchasing gift cards that your employees can redeem at these local businesses as soon as it’s safe to venture out again.

As such, many employees like to be rewarded for their efforts with gift cards rather than cash, as it shows a personal touch from the employer. So now is a good time to use this tactic for remote employee recognition. Send digital gift cards over a personalized email and your employees will love you for it.

And not only does this enable a personalized touch to your recognitions, but it also helps support your local community in this time of need, something that would put your business in a good light.

Present opportunities for professional development

A mutually beneficial way to reward and recognize employees when working as a fully remote team is by presenting them opportunities for professional development. With all this spare time everyone has due to the lack of daily commute, now is the time for the team to learn new skills, hone existing ones, and slowly incorporate them into their daily duties.

Rewarding employees with heavily discounted or free online courses on reputed platforms like Coursera is a constructive way to help them grow professionally in a time where they might feel stagnant in their careers. This way they can add a paid certification to their portfolio for free while you benefit from their newly acquired skills.

You can take it a step further and enroll them for a MasterClass of their choice, not necessarily related to their profession. This shows that you care for your team’s personal development and hobbies as well.

As a bonus, you can check if highly-experienced professionals in their local community are offering online classes and register your employees for them. This achieves the goal of rewarding your employees with professional development while also supporting the local community members who might be struggling to find work right now.

Get a great meal delivered to them

The restaurant and hospitality industry has been one of the biggest victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. So another amazing way to reward remote employees and support these restaurants in need is by ordering a delicious yet healthy lunch from a local restaurant that offers safe delivery services. Such a simple gesture is an effective way to give kudos to remote employees.

Currently, numerous restaurants are relying on their delivery service success to survive the pandemic and not go bust, so it is good to support them in this effort and at the same time, a convenient (and tasty) way to reward an employee for going the extra mile.

So, research nearby restaurants that are ready to deliver, ensure these restaurants follow all the COVID-19 safety precautions, and then offer to get lunch delivered to your employees as a way to appreciate their hard work. They’ll surely be grateful for one less meal to cook and a little less stress on their plates. Again, opt for local restaurants instead of huge chains to support small businesses in these testing times.

Don’t delay recognition

While micromanaging is a big no-no, it’s essential to keep track of what employees are doing when working from home, not just to check if everyone is on the right track but also to give recognition at the right time.

If you find behavior that’s worthy of appreciation, don’t wait for an occasion to give recognition. Reward that employee right away to make it more meaningful. Be it on your company’s messaging platform, a quick team-wide email, or just shining a light on the employee verbally during video meetings – being timely in giving recognition is important.

To conclude, regularly giving recognition to your remote team is crucial for thriving as a remote company. Take note of the ways discussed above and incorporate them into your remote company culture to continue growing in 2020.
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About The Author:

Pratik Dholakiya is the founder of Growfusely, a content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO. He regularly speaks at various conferences about SEO, Content Marketing, and Entrepreneurship. Pratik has spoken at the 80th Annual Conference of the Florida Public Relations Association, Accounting and Finance Show, Singapore, NextBigWhat’s UnPluggd, IIT-Bombay, SMX Israel, SEMrush Meetup, MICA, IIT-Roorkee, and other major events. As a passionate SEO and content marketer, he shares his thoughts and knowledge in publications like Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, The Next Web, YourStory, and Inc42, to name a few. He can be found at Twitter @DholakitaPratik.