Remote work boomed in 2020, as COVID-19 became a full blown pandemic, and even companies that never considered virtual employees were forced to try such arrangements. Using a remote workforce opened a lot of doors for workers and businesses alike.
As we move forward, one of the challenges managers face is how to engage and appreciate their remote staff. Those who work from home often put in more hours and may feel forgotten or taken for granted.
Without daily face-to-face interactions, how do business leaders show appreciation? Here are some ideas to consider.
Why Does Employee Appreciation Matter?
The first step is to understand why appreciation is so important to employees. Studies have shown that receiving encouragement and praise increases motivation and engagement at work.
And when you have a remote workforce, the competition for your top talent takes on a new dimension. You’re no longer able to rely on geography to keep the most motivated workers away from your competitors. As a result, appreciation and making sure workers feel like they matter is more important than ever.
Finally, everyone values recognition. It’s part of a psychologically healthy workplace, especially during a crisis like COVID-19. People want positive attention from their boss and peers, not just when something goes wrong.
Offer Technology Perks
When a parking spot doesn’t matter anymore, what can you do to reward excellent work? Since technology is such a vital part of remote work, you might consider tech gifts.
For instance, a laptop upgrade would be great for a diligent employee, especially if your company supplies the computers. Or, you might offer an extra monitor or high-quality sound-canceling headphones.
If your company relies on remote staff to provide their own technology, you might provide a technology allowance to let them upgrade based on what they need most, such as paying their internet bill.
Fun Random Thank Yous
People love having fun, free items in their workspace. You can offer company SWAG, like branded mugs, pens, or notepads (to get more ideas for creating affordable, customizable SWAG, visit Mimeo’s Branded Merchandise page). You might also consider sending a gift of flowers or food delivered to an employee’s home.
Make sure you treat your employees equally and reward effort rather than using these perks to choose favorites. Take the time to get to know the people on your team and offer something unique to them. A Dr. Who fan might enjoy a small toy, while some pet treats might delight someone who dotes on their dog or cat.
The great thing about this type of appreciation is that you don’t have to link it to a quarterly or annual review. It’s just a nice way to say “thank you for being a part of the team.”
Health insurance is a high-value and common perk, and a flexible health plan that adjusts to where your staff lives is an important part of having remote employees. Once that box is checked, think about what you can do above and beyond to help employees feel connected, appreciated, and healthy.
For instance, you can offer discounts on gym memberships or money toward home gym setups. Both allow your employees to work out and stay active, even as they work from home.
Fostering community and hobbies is another way to show you care about your staff’s personal lives. Many people are very devoted to their pets — why not offer discounts on pet insurance?
The more you can do to encourage your remote employees’ mental, emotional, and physical health, the more productive, engaged, and present they will be for your business.
Having a clean and organized home is essential to those who use the space as an office. However, it can be very difficult to keep up with chores when work is demanding. This is especially true when kids are learning remotely and if a spouse is working from home as well.
One great way to show appreciation is to help your employees improve their work environment. Offer a discount or payment toward monthly house cleaning, for example, or yard work. You might even offer discounted subscriptions to home meal delivery services.
These perks make a big difference to those who work and live in the same space. It’s hard to do everything. When your employer shows they care about your work environment, it boosts morale in a big way.
It can be hard for remote workers to feel like they are connected and engaged with their employer. This is especially true when it comes to career development, because dropping by the boss’ office to chat or finding out about an opportunity through the grapevine doesn’t happen.
Having a learning culture, though, doesn’t depend on people being in the office. You can help your staff develop new skills through online learning and keep them in the loop about new opportunities.
When people know that their career development is a priority, you’re more likely to retain your talented staff. Less turnover saves the company time and money, while prepared employees make great options for the next promotion or new department!
You Can Appreciate Staff Remotely
As you can see, a lot of employee appreciation boils down to “you matter to me.” People want to know that their work is valuable, their development matters, and that their work environment is important to the company.
With the tips listed above, you can encourage and engage employees no matter where they live and work. Your department will thrive, and so will your employees!
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer and Mimeo contributor residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity, employee training and retention, and company culture. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.