Best Practices for Building a Culture of Appreciation in Remote Workplaces

Did you know that 64% of virtual workers said that employee recognition is even more important when you work remotely, according to a 2021 survey by the employee gifting organization Snappy?  However, only 26% of those participants said their organization implemented new ways to recognize and reward them, making some feel unmotivated to work.

Remote work has changed the way we do many things in both the private and public sectors, and employee appreciation and recognition are no different. However, it’s still important that virtual workers feel appreciated. Without physical cues like smiles and gestures that say thanks, most remote employees say celebrating success with fellow workers is lacking. This can lead to employees feeling isolated and unsettled when working in virtual offices.

So, how can public sector organizations build a culture of appreciation in their remote workplaces?

The Importance of Virtual Employee Recognition and Appreciation

Before the pandemic, public sector organizations could have employee appreciation celebrations, where employees received holiday gifts or incentives that made them feel appreciated and part of a team. However, working from home changed the way organizations do everything, and there are few, if any, in-person organization banquets and events. In the meantime, many workplaces haven’t come up with solutions to address how to recognize employees and show appreciation.

While people use recognition and appreciation interchangeably, they each mean something different. Appreciation is the acknowledgment of someone’s inherent value, while recognition is about providing positive feedback based on an employee’s performance. People want to work harder when they are recognized for the tasks they do well because everyone wants to be applauded

Since appreciation and recognition are given for different reasons, it can be difficult if organizations focus on just one or the other. If you focus on performance, it can be hard because, with some projects, there are no tangible results. Also, you will miss the many chances to appreciate your employees by supporting and connecting with them.

When you both recognize and show your employees you appreciate them, they are much happier. In fact, organizations that recognize their employees have less turnover. Research shows that recognized employees are 2.7 times more engaged than ones who are not.

Establishing Best Practices for Employee Appreciation Ideas for Remote Employees

Recognition and appreciation don’t have to be expensive or over the top. But they do need to be timely, thoughtful, and specific, so creating best practices that address these areas is key. Re-evaluate your pre-COVID practices to see where you can improve employee recognition and employee appreciation for remote workers.

Managing remote employees is much different than managing workers in the office for both public and private sector organizations, so this must be factored into establishing new best practices. Define recognition and appreciation program goals and objectives, so you can gauge what works and what doesn’t.

Try different ways to recognize and appreciate your remote workers, give your employees choices and allow them to be part of the process, so they feel heard. Once you establish a new program, you then want to put measures in place to evaluate its effectiveness.

Ways to Recognize Workers and Employee Appreciation Ideas for Remote Employees

Here are some great employee recognition ideas and ways you can appreciate your remote workers.

Celebrate Work Anniversaries and Employee Birthdays

These events are landmarks in a remote worker’s life and should be celebrated. Even a simple automated email can make employees feel special. Also, give remote workers the option to work fewer hours those days or even give them the day off.

Host Virtual Parties

Having parties to recognize and appreciate employees is still possible, just different. Think of snack ideas or gifts that can be delivered and tell everyone to dress up for a call on Zoom.

Dedicate a Website Page to the Team

Show your appreciation and recognize the great things your employees do by dedicating a web page just for that. Feature recordings of everyone working together and let employees do voiceovers for their part.

Virtual Contests

Virtual contests challenge employees and allow them to connect with other employees in teams. You can create trivia questions about the organization, and whichever team gets the largest number of correct answers gets displayed in the gratitude channel or web page. You can also create contests that involve games and award prizes.

Send Gifts

One great way to recognize and appreciate employees is to create giveaways where you send surprise gift boxes or even self-care packages to employees to show them how much you appreciate them. Be sure to be mindful of any gift restrictions that apply to federal employees and other public servants before implementing this in your workplace.

Final Thoughts on Employee Recognition and Appreciation for Remote Workers

Showing employees that you appreciate them goes a long way in the remote workforce. Recognizing your employees for their hard work increases their satisfaction and leads to less turnover. It’s important to re-evaluate your current practices around employee appreciation and recognition and adapt them to work better for the remote work environment.

Melissa Asher

With over 24 years of experience in human resources, specializing in training and development, test administration, and recruitment, Melissa brings a wealth of practical expertise to her Senior Leader role. As a hands-on leader, she is responsible for the growth and development of CPS HR’s Training and Development and Executive Search Divisions as well as leading key business development activities.

About CPS HR Consulting

CPS HR Consulting is a self-supporting public agency providing a full range of integrated HR solutions to government and nonprofit clients across the country.  Our strategic approach to increasing the effectiveness of human resources results in improved organizational performance for our clients.  We have a deep expertise and unmatched perspective in guiding our clients in the areas of organizational strategy, recruitment and selection, classification and compensation, and training and development.