Keep Morale and Engagement High With Remote Employee Recognition

Before we turned the calendar to 2020, remote work was growing at a rate of nearly 50% over five years. Then, in March of 2020, thousands upon thousands of companies found themselves forced into remote-only work virtually overnight. If your company was one of those organizations, you have likely experienced some hiccups and growing pains in your attempt to adjust to your new normal. Now that you've worked out the logistical and technological kinks of working with a remote workforce, it's essential to look for ways to keep morale and engagement high under these extremely stressful conditions.

Employee recognition is always important, and it should not fall by the wayside now that everyone is working from home. In fact, there is a good argument to suggest that you should go all-in on employee recognition, especially during trying times. Recognizing employees boosts morale, improves engagement and helps remote employees remember that they are valued. Here are some tips you can use for effective remote employee recognition.

Send Handwritten Thank-You Notes

When someone goes above and beyond, consider sending them a handwritten thank-you note expressing your gratitude. When people are separated by geography - or by public health mandates - a handwritten note has added meaning because it shows you took extra time to make it personal. When your entire team is remote, it's also a good morale boost to send handwritten birthday cards to employees, since the team can't be in the office to celebrate together.

Facilitate Peer Recognition

Giving team members the means to recognize one another is an effective way to increase teamwork and build trust. There are myriad ways you can facilitate peer recognition systems:

1. Set up a special email address for employees to send stories about teammates that went above and beyond.

2 If you use collaboration platforms like Slack or Teams, set up a channel for people to give shout-outs to teammates.

3. Reserve time in every team meeting for peers to recognize each other.

4. Offer ways to send each other notes, cards, etc.

Your imagination is the only limit when it comes to peer recognition. Figure out what works with your technology and your company culture and have fun with whatever methods you choose.

Be Practical With Gifts and Rewards

Gift cards are a popular reward/recognition item, but it's important to be practical and hand out gift cards people can actually use. If your remote team is spread out across the country, local restaurant or regional grocery chain gift cards do them no good. If your remote team is local, but you are under stay-at-home orders, local restaurant and grocery cards may be very useful and appreciated. When using items like gift cards as a reward or form of recognition, focus on practicality, so it spreads the goodwill you are looking for and doesn't end up collecting dust.

Gamify Recognition

Gamification can help boost morale, motivate employees, reinforce specific behaviors you want to see, and ensure remote teams stay focused and productive during the day - especially those teams that are new to working remotely. Organize weekly competitions that can be as simple as a "work bingo" game where teams mark off specific tasks or milestones. Team-based games also promote a sense of unity among a dispersed workforce. People want to make, build and keep connections with their co-workers, and group games for prices and recognition can bring even the most distant teams closer together.

Whatever You Do, Do It Consistently

Recognition is all about positive reinforcement, and positive reinforcement is most effective when it is consistent. Make sure that whatever you choose to do, you do it regularly and you apply the same criteria across the board.