Even though many organisations' priorities have shifted because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to engage with workforces remains top of mind. In numerous pre-pandemic research studies, employees are largely disengaged, and do not feel motivated or valued by their employers. Many felt invisible at work or lacked recognition for the work they do.
Today, most employees are working remote, whether by choice or by edict. Many are reassessing their priorities, which is expected during times of such massive societal upheaval, and asking deeply philosophical or fundamental questions as to the very essence, nature, and purpose of work in general. Given the physical separation being mandated it is more important than ever to make sure that people feel motivated and connected to their work.
Recognising people for their actions and the impact they're making every day improves motivation, morale and wellbeing. With employees unable to see one another face-to-face, they may feel isolated, and this makes it a bit tougher to keep them engaged.
Here a few ideas on how recognition can help keep connectedness across physical distance.
1. Engage leaders to lead virtual recognition
Leaders are key drivers of company culture and ambassadors of workplace values and behaviour. Leaders who actively use recognition and strongly focus on improving the work culture, get their managers and employees to follow effortlessly. CEOs who empower their teams through strategic recognition, and who hold managers accountable for using it, have the most successful employee recognition plans.
Leaders should try to dedicate time each week towards recognising someone on their team where warranted. Formally book time in the calendar for this purpose to ensure it happens and this could prove a great way to end or start the week for the team.
2. Explain the why to managers
Ensure that managers understand why recognition matters. Push back from managers is expected especially in times of change when everyone has gone remote overnight. Get managers on board from the very beginning, by explaining to them the benefits of recognition and the importance of shining a spotlight on the daily successes others in the business might not know about.
3. Integrate recognition into business practices
A simple practice of “1-minute reminder” to open virtual meetings with a recognition story can amplify a recognition culture. Motivate the employee being recognised and get the other employees in the meeting to desire that level of recognition.
4. Create a digital space to share recognition
Having a digital space to share recognition can help employees feel less isolated, and more connected to their team members and the wider business.
A feel-good e-Card, a personal note, a parent’ channel, and more are just ideas on how an organisation can use recognition in times of uncertainty to drive specific behaviours that the business needs.
As we peer beyond the current situation, it is important to recognise those who are going above and beyond, and those who exhibit the right behaviours and values. They may not necessarily be the ones who are hitting the hard targets (or using the pandemic to explain why they’re not), but could be the folk who adapted to the newly enforced business requirements with little fuss, and who had flexible enough mindsets to look beyond their official job descriptions for the greater good of the business. These are the ones more likely to roll up their sleeves in a crisis and become stars over the longer term.
Now is the time to make sure these exceptional efforts are recognised and visible to everyone, especially when they may not necessarily reflect in the hard performance metrics.
This is not easy when working remote, however it is exactly the right time to embrace innovation and creativity to explore these new ways to recognise and support people.
If you have any questions about how strategic recognition works, please drop us a line.
Our global network of HR professionals would love to learn more about your organisation and help you emerge from this period with your culture even stronger.