In a working environment marked with uncertainty, stress and burnout, employee recognition is an increasingly important part of being a good manager. But how do you make sure everyone on your team feels appreciated when you're just trying to get by yourself?
It's an important question to ask, as employee recognition can have a powerful impact on retention and loyalty. In fact, one Gallup poll showed that when employees don't feel recognized, they're two times as likely to say they want to quit within the next year.
In another survey from Psychometrics, 58% of employees surveyed indicated that being recognized would improve their engagement at work.
As it turns out employee recognition is something you can easily work into your habits as a manager - even on a remote team. It doesn't take a big budget, extra hours or even extra effort to layer in moments of surprise and delight for your hard-working employees - it just takes a little planning.
[Related: How to Manage Teams When Working Remotely]
How to Improvise Good Recognition
First, let's set some ground rules. Recognition doesn't need to be expensive or flashy to have a positive impact on employees. However, if you want it to be effective, it needs to meet the following three criteria:
Effective Recognition is Timely
There's no wrong time to complement an employee. But your kind words will have more impact if they occur within a short time period after the actual event. Get into the habit of recognizing and acknowledging positive actions or results within a few hours of the event instead of saving them up for the next meeting or milestone.
Effective Recognition is Specific
Generic recognition feels good, but it feels even better to know exactly how you've helped someone. The same goes for employees, who are much likely to repeat the desired behavior if you say, "Good job on the report - It really helps me out that your first drafts are always flawless!" verses "Great job this week!"
Effective Recognition is Conscientious
Individual people have different comfort levels with praise - some welcome it in public, some would rather not receive the attention, even if it's positive. As you practice giving more recognition, pay attention to signs that an employee might want to be recognized privately or in front of their group of peers. Better yet, check in with each employee at your next private meeting to ask their preference.
It doesn't require extra effort from you to share your positive feedback publicly or privately, but it will go a long way to making the employee feel comfortable and appreciated in their preferred manner if you ask.
[Related: How To Rectify 5 Common Leadership Wrongs]
Creative Ideas for Recognizing Employees Remotely
With ground rules in place to make your recognition timely, specific, and conscientious, let's explore some creative ways you can recognize your employees in a remote work environment:
- A handwritten note or email recognizing an employee for a specific achievement or valuable contribution
- A tag on social media or in your internal communication platform like Slack recognizing the person's achievement
- If possible, set up automatic alerts within your internal communication platform that notify the team when a specific goal is accomplished (For example, Slack can do this when connected with a platform that monitors product sales)
- Start each 1:1 meeting on a positive note by mentioning something that's going well in the employee's performance
- Monthly or quarterly, ask employees to share what they're most proud of accomplishing to ensure you're aware of where their heart is and compliment it genuinely
- Sponsor co-worker recognition effort where employees nominate others for special accomplishments or contributions
- Collect anonymous compliments from teammates and share in a card or short video (Note: If you opt to do this, make sure to do this for everyone on the team!)
- A personal note of appreciation from someone higher up in the employee's chain of command, such as a member of the C-suite
- If budget allows, consider sending a care package to the employee's home office for special occasions like birthdays, work anniversaries, or onboarding
Employee Recognition to Boost Morale and Prevent Burnout
The working world continues to present challenges and changes to our workforce at large. Managers that embrace the opportunity to be a positive force in the life of their employees will have a powerful impact on the morale of their team - and go a long way to preventing burnout. Be that positive force by setting aside a few minutes each day or each week to share some remote recognition with your team.