Tips for Better Engaging a Remote Workforce
Through Recognition and Rewards

See also: Leadership Styles

If you’re like many entrepreneurs and managers, in recent years you’ve developed either a complete or partial team of remote workers. While it’s fantastic to give your employees flexibility and broaden your pool of candidates, there are some downsides to managing a remote team.

In particular, people who aren’t coming into an office and regularly interacting in person can often feel somewhat left out, undervalued, and underappreciated. However, you can take steps to counteract these feelings by suitably recognizing and rewarding people for their work.

Thank Team Members Individually

Remote workers on Zoom.

An affordable and simple way to acknowledge your remote team is to thank them for their results and hard work. It’s incredible how far a simple thank you can go. You can get your appreciation across on a Zoom or other video conferencing call or via a phone call. Alternatively, send an email or a handwritten note.

You might also thank people via more public rather than one-on-one methods, such as during an online meeting, or through the company’s intranet or newsletter, social media pages, or even at a conference or other event that your remote team travel to head office or some other location for.

Either way, include specifics about what you’re thankful for rather than being too vague (which comes across as less genuine) and express how what your remote workers do has a positive impact on the company’s bottom line and you, too.

Give Out Awards

You might consider giving out awards to highlight the work of your remote employees. You could do this as you see fit, such as every few weeks or months, or you might like to set up a more structured employee of the month program where you choose one worker each time to give a shout-out and an award to.

Ensure it’s not the same people who get recognized month after month and that it’s clear that the award means something and isn’t paying lip service. Choose a classic type of physical award, where possible, that you can have engraved or printed with the recipient’s name and posted out to them. It’s nice for people to get something tactile they can hold onto, rather than simply a digital certificate.

It often works nicely to have a separate peer-recognition program that you run in your organization, too. Enable your staff members to celebrate others in their teams that they notice putting in the hard yards or achieving excellent results. Your workers may spot things that you don’t, after all.

Reward People with Perks and Gifts

Next, it’s worthwhile creating some budget to spend on rewarding people with perks and gifts, whether you do this annually or can afford to do so more often. Rewarding your remote workers in this way will help to boost morale and motivation and show that you don’t have to see employees in person constantly to notice what they’re achieving and how hard they work.

There are all sorts of perks and rewards you can choose from. For example, perks might include giving people an extra day or two off from work or having lunches delivered to their door for a fortnight. As for rewards, you might send people gift cards, bottles of wine, hampers, accommodation vouchers, tickets to a show, or other items you know will make a good impression. Alternatively, a cash bonus always goes down well with most people.

If you struggle to find the time and energy to source and send such items, though, or need more guidance, remember that you can outsource various HR functions to companies such as Workhuman. Specialist HR firms can handle single tasks or many, depending on your needs, and ensure that rewarding your team happens, rather than being constantly pushed down your to-do list.

Ensure Workers Have a Way of Learning and Developing

Keep in mind that while salaries are important, most employees these days are just as focused on staying interested in their roles and growing and developing themselves to boost their careers. As such, you can engage your remote workforce by finding ways to challenge them and help them learn new things.

Knowledge and learning.

For example, give people opportunities to try new jobs or tasks they haven’t before, and give them access to more training. You might conduct this online for multiple people to attend at once or pay for your team members to attend external courses, workshops, and the like. The more people see they’re making progress, building their skillset, and avoiding boredom, the more productive and happier they should be working for your firm.

There’s no one right way to recognize and reward remote employees, so test different strategies to see what works best for your business. Don’t be afraid to ask your workers what they want, too, as feedback can guide you in making more appropriate decisions in this HR area.

Host casual hangouts and virtual meetings

Many remote teams communicate regularly via video calls, instant messaging, and email. A video conference call or voice message can be a great way to encourage team collaboration when the entire team is working together. Slack, Google Hangouts and Trello are all great communication and collaboration tools.

It's important to arrange virtual meetings for non-work-related chats. There's always something to talk about at work. But you don't want any conversation to be stressful. To keep your employees happy and engaged, schedule work outings or casual video chats.

Celebrate milestones virtually

You don't have to work remotely in order to celebrate big wins. To maintain high morale, and to prevent disengagement, continue to celebrate milestones. You can, for example, publicly acknowledge people via your intranet to recognize them for birthdays and anniversaries. Other people can comment on the work and add their own ideas. They might also be reminded to congratulate a coworker for an accomplishment, thus keeping the recognition cycle going.

Use a points-based program to recognize employees who have completed professional courses, delivered outstanding presentations, or went above and beyond. Employees should encourage peer-to-peer recognition by asking them to acknowledge others who helped them get a sale through the finish line, or complete a major project. For teams that demonstrate your company's values, you can award virtual team lunches. Although these celebrations may look different, employees will feel inspired if they are made to be personal and memorable.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership eBooks

Learn more about the skills you need to be an effective leader.

Our eBooks are ideal for new and experienced leaders and are full of easy-to-follow practical information to help you to develop your leadership skills.

Adil Altaf

About the Author

Adil Altaf loves to help others by sharing useful information and seeing how informed decision-making can change the world.