The importance of recognition in a remote environment

Vanessa Nelson

Vanessa Nelson

Vanessa was a member of Payworks’ Human Resources team from 2019-2022. With a holistic and human-centered approach to HR, she added support and value to each employee’s unique experience. Vanessa a été membre de l’équipe des ressources humaines de Payworks de 2019 à 2022. En adoptant une approche globale centrée sur l’humain pour les RH, Vanessa cherchait à soutenir les employés et valoriser leurs expériences uniques.

Whether by policy or preference, remote work is here to stay! Payworks’ #HRFromAfar series leverages the insights of our in-house HR experts to help leaders, fellow HR professionals and Canadian business owners navigate the many unique facets of virtually managing a workforce.

Even the most self-effacing team members appreciate some level of recognition for their efforts and contributions – it’s human nature! Recognition is just one component of treating each other fairly and respectfully; it also deepens trust and engagement among your employees and colleagues and sets the stage for them to thrive.

Whether you’re a member of the HR team establishing a formal infrastructure for recognition, a leader working to build a mutually supportive department, or an employee looking to spotlight your colleague for a job well done, the most rewarding and effective recognition is that which is specific, timely and consistent. Here’s how to make it happen, even when you’re apart:

It’s all in the details

Acknowledgement should be precisely focused on a particular achievement or demonstrated area of growth and attuned to the person’s preferred method of recognition. One size doesn’t fit all!

This can be challenging without the visibility afforded by working under the same roof, and means leaders and teams will need to get creative in assessing where their team members are going the extra mile. One tip: structure your goals and deliverables in a way that builds frequent communication and collaboration so that everyone can see (and benefit from!) the unique, valuable ways that their colleagues are contributing.

It’s also important to understand how people like to be recognized; after all, the public shout-out that might make one employee’s day could embarrass another. One person’s whole week could be made by a surprise doorstep donut delivery; another would see a professional development opportunity as the highest form of thanks. There’s no big secret here – the best way to find out is simply to ask and follow their leads!

There’s no time like the present

While it can be difficult to prioritize recognition on an already-full to-do list (especially in times when everything feels out of the norm), it’s most effective when it’s relatively immediate.

Leaders can pre-book time in their own schedules each week to review the past few days’ accomplishments by the team and reach out to the individual by phone or video chat. If a more public forum is a better fit, leverage shared technology and department-wide or company-wide electronic message boards to shout-out a job well done.

No matter how it’s executed, making sure recognition is timely not only rewards the employee; it helps them feel more connected to and engaged with the organization and reinforces that they and their hard work are being seen.

Practice makes perfect

When people are working remotely and running the risk of feeling isolated, they thirst for recognition even more than usual. So why not get into the habit now of checking in for quick but frequent updates? Set aside a consistent time in the calendar – even if it’s only a five minute block – for one-on-ones on a frequency that works for both parties, and stick to them!

Recognition doesn’t only need to be performance based – it can be as simple as remembering and following up on what you know is important to your teammate inside or outside the office. By building a foundation of trust through regular open communication, you can feel confident that you’re getting the real story, which is especially important when you’re not sharing a space and able to pick up on the non-verbal cues that often give away more than we think we’re letting on.

In group settings, make sure to reinforce the behavior of those who are leading by example and quick to share credit by recognizing them specifically for their frequent recognition of others! Or kick off each team meeting by encouraging team members to share a story of someone who made a difference in their week.

Once these habits are established, they’ll feel like second nature and become a positive and productive feature of the corporate culture, even if one day the whole team is back in a shared space.

Seeing is believing!

Curious what better Canadian workforce management looks like in action (and how much time you could reclaim in your day-to-day)? Book a pressure-free, get-to-know you demo today.