7 remote employee recognition ideas: a weekly checklist for managers

Written by: Cailin Woodward | Edited by: Alison Robins | Illustrated by: Max Prevo
Published on October 15, 2020 | Reading time: 5m

Part of your job as a manager during these unprecedented times is to keep employee engagement high. An effective way to do this is to implement creative remote employee recognition ideas that keep your team morale high and offer bursts of daily motivation. 

Despite risks that your company will not reach its targets this year, employees need to know their contribution is still creating a positive impact. It’s up to managers to recognize a variety of behaviours, whether directly related to the company’s financial gain or not.

Why remote employee recognition is important, especially right now

Practicing employee appreciation can increase engagement, productivity, and employee morale, especially in teams that are now separated by distance. Here’s why it’s so important: 

  1. Encouragement during tough times: It may be harder to see results, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t giving their all. Recognize smaller contributions to balance negative emotions that develop from working remotely during a crisis.
  2. Improved employee retention: Putting your employee recognition ideas into action will have positive effects. According to a 2018 study by SHRM, 68% of HR professionals claim that their current employee recognition program helps with employee retention.
  3. Increased employee engagement: Employee appreciation increases engagement and motivation, propelling people to continue working hard, even when the going gets tough.
7 employee recognition ideas to keep your remote team engaged

7 employee recognition ideas to keep your remote team engaged

For the sake of your remote team’s engagement and morale, put these employee recognition ideas into action on a weekly basis.

1. Give specific recognition in your virtual 1-on-1 meetings.

For your next 1-on-1, prepare an example of something your employee recently did well, and explain its impact.

Reflection exercise: 

  • How has this person influenced/helped me recently? 
  • How has this person’s work, attitude, or actions positively affected your remote team?
  • Has this person exceeded expectations?

2. Give employee recognition in a virtual group setting.

Whether in a team meeting or in a company-wide “Kudos” channel on a platform like Slack, give employee recognition publicly. This can be highly stimulating and inspire a collective energy of positivity and engagement.

We programmed a Kudos “formula” through Slack to ensure that every moment of recognition is thought out and thinks beyond reaching goals to demonstrating company values.

3. Create a kudos train.

Give kudos to one team member in a shared Slack channel and ask them to pass it on.

Create a kudos train.

Thank you, [Team member] for your [help, positive attitude, support, ideas, or other]. Thanks to your contribution, [describe impact]. Please pass on a kudos to someone else on the team who has impacted you this week!

4. Name and recognize team members when presenting cross-team or company wide projects.

Great leaders don’t take all the credit when presenting team wins. Citing contributors publicly demonstrates that you value the contribution, and that you’re transparent about the help you received.

5. Address remote work directly, and point out the places where your team is doing well.

Recognize the context in which your employees are working. Point out where they are doing well in terms of remote work and let them know that you understand the difficulties of the time and appreciate them being part of the solution.

Topics you can cover: 

  • Team collaboration 
  • Communication 
  • Support for one another

6. Make employee recognition in virtual meetings dynamic and fun.

  • Share recognition without naming the person. Have team members guess who it’s for. 
  • Develop categories for recognition, like an awards show.
  • Have employees submit recognition or “kudos” for their colleagues.
Here’s how we do peer-to-peer recognition on our team!

7. Celebrate milestones together, even from afar.

Even virtually, your employees are celebrating big milestones such as work anniversaries or the end of a big project. 

  • For work anniversaries, ask people to chip in for something meaningful to the employee’s interests and role.
  • Have the team sign a card using a virtual collaboration platform like Miro
  • Host a virtual afternoon coffee break to celebrate wins and have everyone share what they’re proud of.

Download our Employee recognition guide.

image of the guide Employee recognition revisited

Tips for giving employees effective and meaningful recognition

Ask remote workers how they want to be recognized

In a new context of work people might need more, or different forms of recognition from their managers. Instead of trying to guess, take the time to ask each employee:

  • What kind of recognition is most meaningful to you? 
  • What does motivating recognition look like to you?

Recognize employees on a regular basis

A 2017 report from Gallup shows that if 60% of employees were recognized daily, managers could reduce absenteeism by up to 27%. Absenteeism exists in virtual offices too, and is more difficult to track. Regular recognition can do a world of good for your team.

Make recognition authentic and from the heart 

Gift cards and money do not always provide lasting impact. Instead, offer personal verbal or written feedback on a person’s performance that is explicit about the job they did, and the impact it had.

“Thank you for helping me on Project X today despite your busy schedule. The impact of your help for me personally was Y, and for the team was Z!”

Deloitte shows that 54% of employees would prefer to be recognized with a “Thank You,” versus 7% who would prefer a gift.

Encourage recognition across the board

Colleagues, managers and executives benefit from recognition too! Promote peer-to-peer recognition across the hierarchy to build a meaningful culture of recognition all around.

Offer recognition to individuals who work behind the scenes

A lot goes into a project. Remember to recognize those who may not be seen but who still provide valuable contributions.

Offer recognition to individuals who work behind the scenes

How Officevibe can help:

  • Track employee engagement metrics like Recognition Frequency and Recognition Quality from managers and peers via anonymous feedback.
  • Collect weekly feedback from employees on how they’re feeling and what they need from you as a manager.
  • Receive a simple visual team engagement report that gives you a high level view of where your team is happy, and areas that need improvement to keep them engaged.

Try: Host a brainstorm when your survey shows low metrics, and encourage direct input from the team. Take advantage of the brilliant minds in your company to find a solution.

Try Officevibe for free

With all that’s happening in the world, it’s crucial to keep your team’s motivation and engagement high. Employee appreciation takes time and effort, and it may feel like something that can be skipped during busy, stressful times, but it’s well worth the effort.