Many companies are unaware of the correlation between employee recognition and employee retention.

One study found that 44% of employees planning to switch jobs were leaving due to lack of recognition and engagement, and 69% of those employees said that recognition and reward would convince them to stay in their job.

Take a look at these findings from a study about employee recognition deficits:

  • 72% of Americans feel like their boss and colleagues don’t always notice how hard they work for them.
  • 40% of employed Americans say they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often.

Clearly, recognition is a valuable tool to motivate and retain employees.

The sudden and significant increase in virtual employees in the last year has presented a unique issue: How do companies recognize employees in the remote workspace?

This sudden shift to remote working, coupled with a lack of remote employee recognition, has left many employees feeling disconnected and unappreciated.

Foundations of Successful Virtual Employee Recognition

When developing a virtual employee recognition program, it should have 3 components:

  1. Informal Recognition
    Company culture should encourage leaders to recognize jobs well done in their day-to-day interactions. Showing gratitude for employee accomplishments during meetings, in emails, or through personal notes or phone calls all create and reinforce a culture where hard work is valued and appreciated.
  2. Semi-Formal Recognition
    Semi-formal recognition publicly recognizes a job well done in a non-formal manner. It may be an email to a team recognizing above and beyond performance, or perhaps small gift cards or a meal for a team or employee who went the extra mile.
  3. Formal Recognition
    Formal recognition may be a monthly or weekly award, an end-of-project celebration for successful project completion, or other recognition that is more formally structured or pre-planned.

If you already have an on-site employee recognition program that includes these three components, it may simply require a little tweaking to adapt it to a virtual workplace.

Use the virtual employee recognition ideas below to jump start your virtual employee recognition program and ensure all workers feel appreciate regardless of their remote location.

12 Virtual Employee Recognition Ideas

1. Virtual Meeting “Shout Outs”

Make it a habit to begin virtual meetings with a few recognition “shout-outs.”. At each meeting, select a few employees and highlight their recent accomplishments or highlight a new team accomplishment.

Public recognition shows everyone on the team the value that the employee adds. It also creates a culture where praise is the norm and will encourage company peers to recognize each other as well.

2. Make a Virtual Bulletin Board

Establish a virtual bulletin board to create a sense of community and provide a venue for “shout outs.” Posts can include customer complements, peer shout-outs, commendations from supervisors, welcome notes, birthdays, employee anniversaries, and fun announcements (new babies, new pets, and other fun topics).

3. Contribute to a local cause

Run a contest in which the winning team or employee gets to contribute a set amount to a local non-profit. Post the winners on your virtual bulletin board, or send out a team email announcing the winner and highlighting the non-profit cause that the winner(s) chose.

4. Personal Messages

Take the time to send an email to recognize an employee. Make it detailed and specific about what the employee has done right, and describe how that impacted company success.

You can include a gift card or company swag as a token of your appreciation.

5. Fun Recognition

Creative employee recognition ideas will add lighthearted fun to the remote workspace.

Establish informal awards for virtual employees to be voted on by peers. Awards such as “cleanest home office,” “most punctual Zoom meeting attendee,” and “most likely to have a pet in the room” will create a culture of connection and fun.

6. Online Membership Rewards

Recognition can take the form of memberships. Remote employees or teams can be rewarded with a one-month membership that will help them stay emotionally and physically healthy such as online yoga, workout, and meditation website subscriptions.

7. Recognize an Employee with a “theme package” gift or local gift card

If an employee has gone above and beyond, send them a theme package to recognize their efforts. Theme ideas include:

  • Home spa care package
  • Pet toy package
  • Sport team themed package
  • Coffee or tea lovers package

Gift cards to local restaurants or other local businesses will recognize the employee and support local businesses in their area.

8. Hold Periodic Remote Employee Appreciation Days

Schedule a virtual Employee Appreciation Day for your remote workers.

Choose a fun dress theme, and choose a virtual background to match the theme. Kick it off with a virtual Zoom meeting to thank them for their hard work and recognize accomplishments since the last appreciation day. If possible, schedule various leaders to speak.

Have food delivered to each team member from a local restaurant using delivery services like GrubHub or DoorDash.

Check out more Virtual Celebration Events in this article on Holiday Celebrations in the Workplace.

9. Seminars or Education Activities

Nothing is more pertinent to recognizing an employee’s strength as offering to pay for an online or on-site course or seminar to further their expertise.

Granting time off of work for development shows the employee that you value their professional growth, and recognizes the value of their contributions to the company.

10. Providing Proper Remote Office Equipment

One way to show virtual employee appreciation is to provide proper work from home equipment. This provides recognition by acknowledging the unique difficulties encountered by remote work employees and addressing them with equipment such as:

  • High speed internet reimbursement
  • High quality laptops
  • Extra Monitor and keyboard
  • Standing or sit-to-stand desks
  • Ergonomic chairs

In addition to rewarding the employee, this recognition increases employee productivity and reduces workplace medical issues.

11. Make Recognition a Regular Part of One-on-One Meetings

One-on-one meetings are typically used as a way to share information and status updates on work projects, and set goals for employee growth and development.

Making recognition a regular part of these meetings will increase employee confidence and motivation. Find something the employee is doing well and comment on it. Be detailed and explain how the employee’s work helped you or the company.

12. Send Out a Monthly Celebration E-Newsletter

Use this publication to highlight individual, department, and team accomplishments. Include items for celebration: birthdays, work anniversaries, new babies, marriages, new pets, and more.

The Rewards of Successful Virtual Recognition

A corporate culture of gratefulness has a trickle-down effect. Grateful leaders create meaningful connections and motivate employees. Deliberate recognition results in more employee optimism, retention, job satisfaction, and job performance.

Recognition does not come naturally to everyone, so establishing virtual recognition habits and traditions make the process of recognition become part of your company and leadership routine.

You will be giving your employees the gift of taking pride in their work, and the understanding that their work has a positive impact on company success.

This in turn results in better teamwork, higher job satisfaction, and stronger employee morale.

Need Help?

Robin Kramer is an Online Business Manager that has been working with small businesses for 23 years. Her varied experience enables her to step in and help get your business functions streamlined, setting you up to achieve the business growth and profitability you’ve dreamed of.

To learn more about Robin’s skills and how she could help your business, contact her for a free consultation today.

Next Month’s Article Preview: Delve deeper into virtual recognition as we look at the secrets of effective one-on-one meetings.