People like to work for companies that show employee appreciation often. But how can you acknowledge remote workers?
Even before the COVID-19 outbreak forced businesses into work-from-home situations, some companies already started using more remote workers. Why?
Many employers have seen that using a remote workforce can improve efficiency and save money. With the presence of improved video conference technology and digital management software, it’s now much easier to communicate outside of the office.
Telecommuting also saves employees time and money from commuting, and employers no longer have to pay for rental space or office amenities.
At the same time, it’s easy for employees to feel disconnected or unappreciated when they spend the whole day alone at a home office. They miss out on company lunches, chatting with a desk neighbour, and all of those snacks in the break room.
Are your remote employees feeling disconnected? If so, here are ten ways to show employee appreciation for a remote workforce.
Maintain a strong work culture online
Every brand should intentionally develop a healthy company culture. This is what helps define your company’s values, which then attracts talent that will stick around for the long run. It also builds a sense of community within your employees, promoting a united purpose, as they work together on projects.
Work-from-home culture should be no different from in-the-office work culture. Social media groups, video conferences, and chat rooms provide platforms in which employees can interact. They can use these resources for team updates and company news or take a chance to get to know each other better and develop camaraderie.
Remote work culture can be isolating on its own. It can cause many to lose steam in their work. Developing a strong online culture and community will help them feel more included and less inclined to look for other work opportunities.
Schedule regular face-to-face meetings
Whether it’s through video conferencing or in-person, regular face-to-face meetings is an excellent way to show appreciation and build trust with employees. These meetings could be basic check-in sessions, team-building exercises, or trainings.
What’s important is to make this an opportunity for the employee to voice their opinions and concerns. When employees are heard, they’ll feel appreciated.
Make sure meeting times are at a reasonable hour for everyone, especially if your employees are operating in different time zones. If a team at your London office has a meeting every morning at 9 AM, don’t expect an employee working from New York to chime in at 4 AM their time.
Respect diverse cultures in your workforce
If your workers span across different countries, or even if you have a mix of cultural backgrounds within your organisation, it’s in your best interest to understand these different cultures.
Try your best to understand the diverse traditions of your employees and recognise important holidays associated with these cultures. Doing so will show that you have a genuine interest in their personal life and wish to respect their traditions to the best of your ability.
Offer them extra vacation days
Even though working from home brings a lot of flexibility into work life, it can still be draining. Employees need to take their vacation days to recharge and get back to their normal productivity. Otherwise, they can start to burn out, which can make them less efficient and take a toll on morale.
Encourage employees to use their vacation days. And set expectations for what a vacation day means. Many people will still feel obligated to check and respond to work emails on their day off. Communicate clearly what you feel vacation days should be used for. This way employees can take full advantage of those days.
Send them employee appreciation notes
It’s okay to be direct with your appreciation. Sending an email to thank an employee for a specific accomplishment is a great way to show them you care about their work and appreciate their contributions. There are a variety of email templates available that makes writing them easier.
However you write, the email offers a chance to foster a deeper and more personal connection with the employee.
If you want to take it to the next level, mail them a hand-written note of appreciation. Who doesn’t love getting mail (except for bills)? This is more personal than any email you could send, and they’ll be happy to get a letter.
And while we’re talking about hand-written letters, send a congratulatory card for major life events. Birthdays, work anniversaries, and even congratulations for newly married employees. Showing interest in their personal lives is a great way to boost morale.
Give them gift cards from their local area
Everyone likes getting a gift for a job well done, but not everyone likes getting something they can’t use. When recognising your remote workers’ efforts, be sure to give them a reward that’s useful to them. Gift cards are usually a safe bet.
Do some research into your employee’s area to determine what you could give them. Make sure you get them a gift card to somewhere currently open and convenient to get to.
Take it one step further and survey your employee’s interests. What food do they like? What are their hobbies? Do they have any dietary restrictions? Doing so will help you pick the perfect gift and show employees you care about them as individuals.
Offer professional development
Most employees don’t want to be stagnant in their careers. While some are content with completing the same tasks every day, many want to expand their industry knowledge. They want to try new things and desire greater responsibility—not to mention the potential for advancement.
This attitude calls for encouragement. Otherwise, advancement-craving employees will feel like they’re stuck in a dead-end job and seek new opportunities elsewhere. Offering training programs and access to educational seminars are great ways to show appreciation to these types of employees.
You should especially have training programs in place for remote workers. As new tasks come their way, they won’t always have easy access to a manager to ask clarifying questions. Extensive and detailed trainings are the best way to help them not feel overwhelmed.
These training programs can only benefit your company. The newly found skills and knowledge these employees gain will better prepare them for more complex tasks and future roles.
Create feedback loops
One of the best ways to show employee appreciation is by giving them a voice in your company. You can accomplish this through feedback loops.
Give your employees regular opportunities to provide feedback on the company’s functions, like the hiring process or employee trainings. It’s a great way to learn more about your employees’ opinions and find areas of improvement for your company.
It’s also crucial to give employees feedback on their performance, so they know how to improve as well. This way there can be mutual respect between a manager and their employees, as they work toward improving the company together.
Feedback loops are incredibly important for remote workers. The physical distance between the employee and the manager means communication needs to be crystal clear. Providing feedback opportunities allows for changes to be made to improve communication and the relationship with the remote worker.
Recognise efforts consistently and often
An employee’s performance should be given positive recognition often. While Employee Appreciation Day is an excellent opportunity to recognise these employees every year, you should do more. Recognise your employees’ efforts weekly, or even daily. For remote employees, this can be done through video conferences, social media pages, and email.
Other people should know when an employee gets recognised for their efforts. Seeing others’ performance being positively reinforced can boost company morale. This is a great way to avoid motivation or productivity issues later on.
Also, be sure to be consistent about what behaviours you recognise. To explain this, let’s look at a hypothetical car sales team. If one salesman is celebrated for selling three cars in a day, another car salesman who did the same should be equally recognised. If they aren’t, it can appear as favouritism, which takes a toll on employee motivation.
Use HR software to automate appreciation
If you have a lot of employees, it’s easy to lose track of things like birthdays and significant achievements. That’s when you should look into HR software to help automate your employee appreciation efforts.
The word “automation” may sound like it’s taking the personal touch out of the process, but that’s not true. HR software, when used properly, can make employee appreciation more efficient.
Automation helps with all of the other items we’ve talked about. It can keep track of important cultural holidays, face-to-face meetings, and birthdays. Not to mention, it will send out reminders to complete feedback questionnaires and makes sending out appreciation gifts much easier by saving your employees’ addresses.
Remote employee appreciation shouldn’t fall to the bottom of your priority list. Your employees are people who are putting plenty of time and effort into your company’s interests.
If you want to increase productivity and morale in your workers, put these employee appreciation tactics into action. You’ll see more motivated and happier workers, and develop a better work culture in the process.
About the Author
Ryan Sagers is the Co-Founder of EddyHR, a human resources software company that builds HR management tools for companies in the SMB space. As a leader at EddyHR, Ryan has navigated the COVID-19 restrictions, including the temporary closure of EddyHR’s office, which resulted in the entire company working from home.