How are your employees handling the recent jump to remote work? The sudden shift in how we go about our daily lives caught us all by surprise. For employees, some may have found themselves reliant on new skills or technology. Or maybe they were abruptly cut off from their team. Perhaps there's new fear about job security or home life. All of this combines into high stress levels which can impact an employee's mental and physical health, not to mention their productivity levels on the job. Stress is an unavoidable fact of life right now but cracking under it doesn't have to be. So instead of just hopping from one completed project to the next, take a moment before you move on to appreciate the hard work your team is doing and find a way to celebrate them for it.
8 ways to appreciate your team
What can you do to show your team you see the effort they are putting in and you value their dedication? There are dozens of ways to say thanks but a few easy ones to do from a distance are:
Celebrate birthdays: Chances are you were already doing this one in the office but how are you handling birthdays during the pandemic? Most of us are just skipping them but there's an opportunity here to add a little joy. Instead of forgetting about birthdays, try celebrating them remotely. This could include getting the team on a video call to sing happy birthday, sending an employee a birthday card in the mail, or even giving the employee the day off. Time off is important right now and a day here or there can go a long way to rewarding and motivating your team.
Write LinkedIn recommendations: If an employee is doing a really great job, an easy way to recognize that effort is with LinkedIn recommendations. These take minutes to write but can have a long reaching impact. We all want nice recommendations on our profiles these days. After all, LinkedIn is the go-to platform for job searching. So writing a recommendation or encouraging staff to write ones for each other can help raise spirits, show you care, and keep your team engaged.
Point system: Another idea is to create a point system to reward hard work. When employees do a good job they receive points they can collect over time. Those points can then be traded in for rewards such as more time off, budget towards new work equipment like a desk chair or training session, gift cards, or any other reward you want to offer. This method helps space rewards out over time as employees need to collect a larger number of them to be useful so it can also help drive employee engagement from a distance.
Have a party or competition: People are likely spending a lot of time alone these days. One way to show you appreciate your team is to use some time during a work day (Friday afternoon is best) to bring everyone together online for a fun activity. This could be an online party or happy hour where the host rotates people into breakout rooms to see each other and catch up. Or if your team isn't into parties, you could mark a day for some sort of competition or hackathon. It could be work related, ie. brainstorm ways to make the company more productive, or it could be non-work related, ie. everyone gets two hours to make the prettiest cupcake. Then everyone shares their masterpieces and votes on a winner. No matter which direction you want to go, the idea is to bring everyone together so they can de-stress a little and have fun together.
Use plants: Let's be real, who isn't gardening right now? Plants are a fun way to perk up an indoor office or transform your outdoor space. If any employee is doing particularly well or deserves some extra recognition, consider sending them a plant. Cut flowers and bouquets are always nice but if you can, try to send something potted that will last longer. Herbs are a big crowd pleaser along with little pots of lavender to help combat stress levels. Many florists and nurseries are delivering these days so it can be an easy and fun way to recognize an employee with a little greenery.
Public shout outs: How about recognizing your employees in public? There are many ways to approach public recognition. Some companies use social media and encourage employees to give each other compliments online in a peer recognition program. This can be a good trick to boost your employer brand as well. Other companies make use of their website and have a section on company culture that highlights an employee of the month. Some even use newsletters to call out a special employee. We all like being told we're doing well and getting that recognition in a public way can make the message even stronger.
Certificates of achievement: This might sounds a little high school to you but certificates or awards can still be a real way to appreciate someone's hard work. These can, of course, be generated and sent via email but if you can, try to mail the certificate to make it more special. Follow up with an all-staff email to highlight what the award was about and shine more light on the work being recognized. Remember to use certificates sparingly to keep them important and if you can, you might want to consider mailing the certificate with another small token like a coffee gift card to bring a smile to your employee's face.
Ask what works: Once you find a way, or multiple ways, to appreciate your team and their hard work, ask them if it's working. Using employee surveys or a virtual team suggestion box are great ways to collect information fast from your team. Asking them what appreciation method they most like will help you focus on what works. It also provides you with another opportunity to talk to your team and check-in on how they're feeling. Using tools like surveys or mobile polls to keep on top of employee morale can go a long way toward keeping the culture of your remote team positive.
Recognize the hard work your team is doing
There is a lot going on for most teams and companies right now and busy managers can be forgiven for focusing on the more immediate fires. But no one can push forever without being thanked for their hard work. Employee recognition is not just a tool to keep retention and employee engagement high but should be a genuine way of showing appreciation. And there are many creative ways of doing that. From paid time off to tokens to team acknowledgement, the main goal is to make your team feel like their time and efforts are being seen. People are motivated to do good work when they know their efforts will be noticed. And when your staff feel motivated, employee well-being and productivity both rise. So take a break from the regular pace of work and see if there is anything you can do to appreciate your team. Spending a little time saying thank you can go a long way.