Even if managing remote employees is becoming a more widespread phenomenon, many leaders stills struggle with one of its key aspects – employee recognition. It doesn’t matter whether employees work on-site or remotely – obviously, they need to be engaged and motivated all the same. Unfortunately, without the opportunities for spontaneous ‘Good job!’ remarks, many managers are at loss when it comes to recognizing the achievement of remote employees.
What are the key challenges remote employees face? They often report feeling isolated and out of touch with things that matter to the organization. In addition, as a result of receiving little to no feedback, some of them tend to feel undervalued as well. On the other hand, remote leaders complain that they have no control over their employees who have too much freedom in interacting with clients or too flexible work schedules.
Still, remote work provides managers with an indisputable source of talented employees who would otherwise be out of company’s reach. What’s more, in the majority of cases the longer the collaboration between the managers and the remote employees is, the smoother it gets and the greater results it bring – provided of course that the remote employees are well recognized and motivated to stay in the company long enough. Here are 8 actionable tips to help you properly recognize remote employees, motivating them to work hard and boosting your team retention rate:
1. Respect the cultures of remote employees
If your team is composed of workers coming from different corners of the world, you should adopt an open-minded attitude and try to learn a bit about the cultures of your workers. Getting to know the traditions of a multinational workforce, you’ll be able to interact with them appropriately and recognize important days/holidays in their national calendar. This is a clear sign of your respect and appreciation, which is bound to boost employee morale.
2. Organize in-person meetings once a month
While technologies allow for seamless communication, face to face meetings are still more powerful when it comes to employee engagement and recognition. Remote workers who don’t live too far from the office will be happy to meet you and other managers at least once a month. This is when you can brainstorm new ideas, implement team-building exercises or simply talk about your expectations and build a feeling of mutual trust. For employees who live far from the office, individual web-conferencing sessions and virtual team building exercises will be just perfect – you’ll make them feel like they’re truly a vital part of the team.
3. Create informal communication sessions
It’s a good idea to introduce a new habit among your remote workforce. Hold informal “water-cooler” session through Skype once or twice a week to keep the lines of communication open and help the team to become friendly with each other. These sessions will provide a space for team chit-chat and the best place to update one another about work-related matters or personal things.
4. Provide team members with recognition tools
It’s important that team members can quickly recognize each other’s effort or help. They can for instance send each other thank-you notes and cards. Make sure employees have online ways to do it and offer a stack of simple recognition notes and other kinds of inexpensive awards they could send to each other.
5. Offer rewards for remote employees
You can introduce a reward system for remote employees. For instance, you create the most productive/happiest/helpful remote employee of the week award. Team members can nominate their co-workers and vote on the winners on each Friday. Winners get points they can exchange for gift cards or a gym membership.
6. Gamify it
Gamification is excellent for boosting employee engagement and motivation. And you can add recognition to the mix as well. Organize team activities like sessions of online work bingo together – employees will fill in a square every time a team members completes a specific task. This will boost team productivity and create a sense of collective effort in bringing a project forward.
“Employees need to feel included, as if they are part of a team. (…) Team-based goals and competitions help build a sense of collaboration and cooperation. Teams can be based on function or location, with the key goal being inclusion in striving towards a common objective.”
Tony Ventrice, senior games designer at Badgeville
7. Send hand-written thank-you notes
Email thank-you notes are way easier and faster to send but when it comes to recognizing and motivating employees they have one serious weakness – they aren’t personal. That’s why when you send a remote worker a hand-written note of appreciation, you can be sure that they will feel really happy to receive it. Make sure employees receive personalized birthday cards as well. It’s your easiest strategy for instant morale boost.
8. Create a virtual bulletin board
Build a space where remote employees can post cartoons, or funny images and comment on every piece of content. This is how they can stay in touch with each other and avoid feeling isolated in their day-to-day work.
9. Be consistent in recognition
Positive reinforcement should be delivered regularly to keep employees engaged and motivated. Make sure that remote employees are recognized and rewarded consistently via Skype, social media platforms or instant messaging in real-time.
Recognition is key to boosting the morale of your team and helping employees collaborate without any glitches. If you fail to recognize their effort, sooner or later you’ll have to deal with motivation and productivity problems.
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