In a traditional office setting, supervisors interact with their teams on a daily basis. Communication is easy, natural and free-flowing.
However, with remote workers comprising a growing percentage of the workforce, managers need new, inventive ways to establish a similar rapport with their work from home agents through incorporating rewards and recognition remotely.
While many organizations enjoy improved employee retention among remote workers, it is critical to hire workers who will be able to handle the challenges of remote work, and to ensure you’re hiring agents with the right motivations, skills, and abilities to handle the unique nuances of the role. Just as not all candidates who apply to your organization are cut out to work there, not all frontline workers are cut out for remote work.
But for those who are suitable for remote positions, managers still need to consider viable methods of keeping these workers motivated, engaged, and recognized.
Why is Employee Recognition Important?
Adapting telecommuting work practices is a feasible task for businesses in many industries. Adapting traditional rewards programs designed to reward employee performance and encourage engagement is more challenging, but accepting defeat in this area means accepting the negative consequences, which are substantial.
According to a Gallup survey, ignoring employees has an even more damaging effect on their engagement in the company than if the manager consistently pointed out their weaknesses.
In fact, 40% of employees who reported that they were ignored also reported that they were actively disengaged with their work. Of those who reported that their supervisor focused solely on their negative qualities, only 22% reported active disengagement.
5 Ways to Promote Employee Recognition Among Remote Workers
So how can businesses enjoy all of the benefits that come from depending on work from home agents – such as high retention and increased productivity – and still effectively lead, motivate and inspire?
Well, most workforce experts agree that recognition and reward shouldn’t be an afterthought – it’s one of the central responsibilities of every supervisor who is responsible for engendering employee loyalty, dedication and productivity in remote workers.
Here are five ways managers can modify traditional employee reward and recognition programs to fit a virtual workplace.
1. Build a Community for Remote Workers
Much of the focus on telecommuting is placed on how the worker interacts with the manager, but this is only one aspect. Another significant part of the traditional work experience is lost when workers turn remote – the office community.
As a manager, you can build a virtual community through organizing online chats, facilitating video conferences and encouraging workers to share ideas and offer feedback to each other through social media groups. When there is active involvement in a community, feelings of isolation decrease. When workers see that managers value them individually, but also as a member of a larger community and a contributor to the collective thought process of the group, they’re motivated to continue in that role.
2. Be Specific
Employee recognition begets employee engagement, so it’s vitally important for managers to provide feedback to their workers. However, this means more than sending general messages of thanks. Employees want to hear that their individual efforts are recognized and valued. When an employee takes initiative or exceeds expectations, supervisors should send them a message that specifically points out their accomplishment.
3. Stay Practical
If you have a team that is spread out around the world, a restaurant gift card will do them no good if they can’t use it. The best way to provide additional rewards beyond verbal support is to ask them what services or products they would prefer they receive in exchange for a job well done, whether that is a credit for a gym membership or an iTunes gift card. Give them a gift they can practically use, not a gift that will collect dust on their desk.
4. Go Beyond E-mail
For managers of remote teams, the responsibility is yours to maintain connection throughout the workday and it’s an essential characteristic of a quality remote leader. Communication doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t, be relegated to e-mail. Plan a weekly Skype session. Connect with employees via social media groups. Call them to check-in on a project’s progress. When you’re regularly connecting on multiple platforms, the lack of physical presence is less noticeable and less of an obstacle.
5. Respect Employees' Cultures
Incorporating rewards and recognition into your remote efforts requires detailed attention to the cultural background of your remote employee. A respect for the work from home agent’s culture is essential, especially for companies with teams spread out around the world. Keep a detailed calendar that lists each person’s religious and cultural holidays, and keep workers' background in mind when you plan to reward international employees.
As you begin to make changes to the way you implement rewards recognition among your remote workforce, remember to stay consistent. When you construct a rewards system that produces results, you can begin marketing it as a staple of your company’s culture. You will become a modern organization that values participation and connection, but promotes worker independence and autonomy from the traditional workplace setting.
What do you think? Leave a comment, and make sure you check out the rest of our series on Remote Hiring!