Remote Employee Appreciation and Recognition: A Guide for Businesses

A smiling individual working from home holding a pencil takes notes with one hand while using a laptop and wearing a headset to engage in a remote conference.

Before the onset of COVID-19, an estimated 17% of the American workforce worked from home five days a week. The percentage of people working from home could soon reach 25 or 30% as more workers embrace full-time, remote employment.

A vast majority of remote employees prefer their new work environment. More than 90% of employees believe their productivity has remained the same, or improved, since migrating to remote work. Seventy-nine percent of the same workforce believes that remote employment allows for greater flexibility during the workday.

Why Appreciation and Recognition Are Important for Remote Employees

In any business, it’s important that remote employees feel welcome and included. Sometimes, remote workers can feel a sense of isolation, simply because of the distance. Great companies find ways to appreciate employees, even if some of their workforce is remote.

To maintain company morale and promote a sense of togetherness, include remote employees in any team-building exercises or bonding activities, and avoid gatherings that require in-person attendance altogether.

With the right recognition techniques, you can help employees feel valued no matter where they’re located. Even if you can only show appreciation for remote staff through a video call or a handwritten note, recognition is still important. Simple forms of recognition can help you show deep appreciation for your employees.

How To Recognize Remote Employees

There are several different ways that you can demonstrate your appreciation for employees. If you’re recognizing a large number of employees, you might consider sending branded gifts like tote bags, mugs, hats, or other promotional items. For a more thoughtful approach to employee recognition, give unique corporate gift boxes alongside handwritten notes.

No matter your employee recognition method, sincerity is important. Take the time to show your employees that you truly value their input and their opinions. You certainly don’t need to spoil your workers; recognizing employees only means making the effort to demonstrate your thankfulness for an efficient workforce.

Whether you’re recognizing remote or onsite employees, be sure to maintain a culture of ethical gift giving. Keep gifts professional and work-appropriate, and make sure to show equal appreciation for all employees.

Create Virtual Employee-Recognition Ideas

Depending on the number of remote employees you have, traditional employee-recognition strategies might not work for you. To demonstrate equal appreciation for remote and in-office workers, you may need to customize an employee-recognition program for your company.

There are several creative ways you can recognize remote employees from a distance. You could create a virtual employee-recognition program, perhaps by holding virtual events where you recognize remote employees for their work performance. You could also dedicate a page of your website to the team, and regularly update bios, images, and other details to reflect employees’ latest accomplishments.

Enable Peer Recognition

Employers should take initiative in praising remote employees for their work. However, it’s also important that coworkers learn to recognize each other. Businesses can foster a culture of appreciation by enabling peer recognition — moments when peer employees take time to appreciate others’ work.

Even if your employees work far away from one another, you can enable peer recognition remotely through technology. If your company uses a messaging or communication tool, create a “gratitude” channel where remote employees can praise each other for their achievements.

Beyond organized meetings, encourage remote employees to take initiative when recognizing peers. Make recognition fun for your employees, and keep it authentic.

If you find that your company lacks peer support elements, you can take simple steps to kick-start the process. You could start something like “Coffee Mondays,” where you fund coffee for remote employees during one Monday per month. While sipping coffee, employees can share one way a coworker or team member made their job easier over the past month.

Provide Perks and Discounts

Many traditional employee-appreciation methods — including free lunch or morning donuts — work best for in-office employees. To show appreciation for remote employees, many companies use a perk or discount system.

If you’d like to provide perks or discounts to remote employees, it’s easiest to leverage a recognition platform. Online perks platforms allow employees to choose from thousands of discount options on items like clothing, technology, and food. Some of the best online discount programs even offer employees access to professional online classes for hobbies like dance, cooking, and music lessons.

Give Gifts for Milestone Celebrations

When remote employees reach particular work milestones, don’t be afraid to reward them appropriately. Maybe a remote employee has worked with you for several years, or they recently completed a sizable project. Perhaps you want to recognize a new employee’s milestone — first sale, first client, first promotion.

Gifts help you show remote employees that you’re invested in their personal and professional development. For example, you might send preserved roses — which can last up to three years — to an employee celebrating a special company occasion

Consider personalizing your gift based on your remote employee’s achievement. Familiarize yourself with the meanings behind popular rose colors, and send color-coordinated flowers to remote employees with a handwritten note. Whether you want to send an office plant, comfortable slippers, or roses that can last 365 days, make sure remote employees understand that you recognize milestone achievements.

Promote Mental and Physical Wellbeing

Remote employees are often affected by work-related stress, unhealthy diets, or other health-related concerns. As an employer, you need to let remote employees know that you value their health more than you value their work contributions.

You can support your remote employees’ mental and physical health in a variety of ways. Consider partnering with an employee-assistance program, one that offers counseling, therapy, and treatment modalities that help remote employees deal with the challenges they face.

You can make a major impact on remote employees’ health by giving them complimentary access to health-focused apps. For example, meditation apps can guide employees through valuable mindfulness and breathing exercises. Other apps help employees own their physical health, through guided diets and workout routines that encourage healthy exercise.

Support Their Personal and Professional Development

No matter where your employees work, they want to be challenged over time. Even if your employees stay in the same roles, they will want to develop new skills and take on additional responsibilities. You can help foster long-term relationships with your remote employees by investing in both personal and professional development.

Remote employees don’t want to feel forced into the same activities every day. By helping them diversify their skillsets, you’re also helping to support their personal well-being.

You can help support your remote employees’ development in many ways. For example, you might schedule specific calls with your employees where you map out their future. You can also invest in education curriculums for specific remote employees or employee groups, to help them keep skills fresh.

Connecting remote employees with mentors is another way you can prioritize their development. Encourage relationships between executives and new remote employees, and check in regularly to make sure regular meetings are taking place.

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