Employee Recognition Strategies For Your Remote Team

Employee Recognition Strategies For Your Remote Team

As 2020 draws to a close,  all of us here at McQuaig would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your team a happy holiday season. It has been quite a year but we appreciate your continued support of the McQuaig blog and look forward to delivering more great content in the coming months. Please enjoy a safe and healthy holiday and we’ll see you in 2021.


It’s the time of year when we start thinking about employee recognition and appreciation. No one would argue 2020 was a rough one with employees needing to adapt in ways they might never have considered before. Though the year might be ending, the need to see and value employees is more important than ever. Keeping yourself on track in a remote world isn’t easy for everyone and teams that have been managing to maintain their performance and productivity deserve some kudos. However, since many of the usual recognition strategies requires people to be together for a party or a lunch, this year you’ll have to get more creative in how you choose to praise your team.

Employee recognition ideas

What can you do to show your team you appreciate the good work they’re putting in on behalf of the company? There are many different types of recognition to leverage but here are a few to consider first.

Feedback, feedback, feedback: How does your team communicate with each other? In the office, you probably received some recognition and appreciation from team members who would see your work on a daily basis and be there when you finished projects. Those casual conversations have a positive impact on a team’s culture and help provide informal feedback on a regular basis. In a remote world, we lose a lot of those small, daily interactions we used to take for granted. In place of the informal feedback employees would organically be receiving, consider bringing in a more formal feedback strategy to support your remote work. Peer-to-peer recognition can be especially valuable as we often don’t consider what our colleagues think about our work. Providing employees with a channel to share their opinions and praise can strengthen team trust and build a company culture of open communication.

Read More: If you want to celebrate with your remote team, check out these 10 virtual ideas

Share accomplishments: This one should be self-evident and something every manager is already doing but when employees achieve something at work, share the news. If your team or department has weekly or monthly meetings, that’s a great opportunity to give an employee a shout-out. But keep in mind with our new remote life that sometimes those meetings might not be scheduled right away and it’s better not to delay recognition if you can help it. If you don’t have an immediate call on the horizon, a better solution is to reach out to your employee for a one-on-one to let them know their work is appreciated and then do it again in a team setting when you have the chance.

Celebrate personal achievements: While it’s always good to focus on the successes at work, we’re living in remote times. Work and home life are blurring in ways they never have before so why not celebrate wins wherever they happen? If someone adopts a pet or develops a new skill in their personal lives, give them kudos next time the team gets together. People may be alone right now or living much smaller lives than they’re used to. Recognizing the positives, whether they’re work or home-related, can help your team stay optimistic through this long stretch of remote work.

Have an employee appreciation day: Your team works hard all year long so why not take a day to celebrate their work? Creating an employee appreciation day or event shows that you value your staff and want to take the time to say so in a more formal way. The day could include fun activities like raffles or a potluck when you’re in the office or in a remote world, it could be some kind of training to focus on team building while bringing everyone together virtually. The idea is to do something that’s different from the norm in order to show employees they are seen and appreciated. 

Pro-tip: Help your remote team stay better connected by prioritizing virtual collaboration

Try gamificationNot every employee wants to be recognized the same way. One employee may want public praise, for example, while another might dread being in the spotlight. If you’d like to create a recognition program that’s more customized, you might want to try gamifying the process. Assign point values for common tasks that employees will receive as they complete their work and let employees trade their points for the recognition option of their choice. You could have gift cards or company swag items available for employees to choose from or opt for non-tangible rewards like an extra vacation and volunteer days. You can also try rotating what recognition items are available each month to keep employees motivated to collect more points. 

Social high-fives: Why not embrace the realities of our remote world and try using social media to share praise and accomplishments? Provide employees with templates to use to post on whichever social platform you choose (LinkedIn is popular for this sort of thing) and encourage them to post feedback to their colleagues. If someone has done a good job, send them a gold star online. Encouraging your employees to talk about their accomplishments in public also has the added benefit of supporting your employer brand. Candidates who see there’s a public culture of recognition are more likely to engage with a job post as they have a clearer view of how the company treats and valued their employees. 

Zoom with the CEO:  In the office, a major accomplishment might earn an employee lunch with the CEO or some other member of the senior team. In a remote world, that’s a little harder to accomplish but you can still set up video conferencing calls with important members of the company as a way to recognize achievement. The calls don’t have to be long, but it shows that an employee’s contribution is felt beyond their immediate team. This type of recognition is also best reserved for large achievements. Landing an important client, for example, might be a great time to jump on the phone for a quick bit of praise. 

Take the time to recognize your team

No one saw 2020 coming. Employers and employees alike had to adapt to new working conditions in the midst of a turbulent year. As it now winds to a close, this is a perfect time to think about the ways you can show your team members the work they do is valued and dial your employee recognition program up to the next level. Employee recognition not only helps improve your team and company culture, but it also increases employee engagement and retention rates. After all, people want to stay where they feel appreciated. With so much going on this year,  it’s easy for managers to forget about recognizing their staff but when you can, telling someone they’ve done great work is a simple action that can go a long way. As 2021 approaches, let’s celebrate employees who went the extra mile and stayed productive in a difficult year. A little recognition can make a big difference in a remote world.


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