Whether your team is fully or partially distributed, you know that people are your greatest priority. Talent is the true lifeblood of any company, and employee motivation is one of the key tenets of any healthy organizational culture. In a number of global surveys and reports, remote workers themselves have shared what drives them: a sense of purpose, the ability to work independently, and the chance to accomplish more while achieving a better work-life balance.
If this isn't news to you, you've likely given some thought to how you can specifically encourage your team not only to do more but do better—a focal point for managers who care about progress and well-being of their peers in addition to the trajectory of their company and their own careers. However, a roundup of employee recognition statistics reveals a disconnect: workers acknowledge the need for recognition, but leaders are not equipped with the knowledge, access, or decision making power to provide adequate recognition. Furthermore, employees may not be aware of the company's rewards and recognition programs. We’re looking to fix this.
If you've already defined what "better" means by identifying Key Performance Indicators (KPIs, a.k.a. objectives) to reach, clients to secure, and revenue to generate, have you also considered what will happen when your goals are achieved? In other words, how are you currently acknowledging your team members’ successes? How do you know it’s working?
These are important questions that deserve attention beyond quarterly or year-end performance reviews. Sure, stepping away from the day-to-day aspects of your routine to establish a process for recognizing and rewarding a job well done isn’t easy, yet it’s an investment that will pay dividends throughout the year. While we’re talking about this topic as the year comes to a close, now is not just the time to recognize, but to establish the strategic recognition initiatives that will see your team through for years to come.
It all starts by: Rewarding with Purpose
Recognition for KPIs achieved
If you’re managing a distributed team, you've hopefully moved beyond evaluating performance based on "butts in seats" and have, instead, tangibly defined performance metrics for every remote worker at your company. But how to you keep your team and company objectives—and the recognition associated with meeting them—from being filed away until some distant mid-year or year-end performance review? Reward as KPIs are achieved. What does that look like? It looks like teams stepping out of the daily grind to set aside time to celebrate as soon as the milestone is reached.
Ideas to consider for individual results: post a public message on Slack, do an in-meeting shout-out, or send a gift by mail, such as a book about your field or a small, useful gift (think coffee, tea, or stationery). Provide non-monetary incentives such as more time off or prioritizing a teammate’s pet project. Set them up for continuous success by paying for incremental development needs. Check out these tweets with some excellent crowd-sourced gift ideas for remote workers.
Ideas to consider for team accomplishments: set up a celebratory video call or host a virtual team event like movie night, hike, pizza party, or game night.
Creating habits to celebrate everyday wins
While recognition of KPIs is important to feeling valuable at work, there are a million tiny steps that each individual takes to secure that next big client. Recognizing those interim steps is just as critical to achieving those results, and creating a culture where employees feel continuously valued. At Workplaceless, we created a Slack channel specifically dedicated to celebrating ongoing wins. Every team member is encouraged to share milestones achieved by themselves or a fellow teammate. This could include big wins, such as client contracts signed, or simple compliments received on an image design.
It’s also important that these programs empower peer-to-peer recognition for team members to support one another. A public show of gratitude for feedback on a task, or collaboration in a brainstorming session, can go a long way in feeling inclusive on remote teams, as well as delivering positive financial returns. Senior leaders need to lead by example here, but the more everyone contributes, the more inclusive the team feels. It not only celebrates the accomplishments, but also serves as information to broader employees on what’s going on within different areas of the organization where information flow might not be as seamless.
Rewards for supporting the company mission
A meaningful vocation is an inherently rewarding one, and you don’t have to be part of a philanthropic organization to care deeply about the purpose behind the work you do. To that end, can you confidently say that your employees are able to connect the dots between their roles and achieving your company’s overarching objectives? If not, it’s time for you to help them see those critical synergies, and more deeply understand the vital part they play.
Showcase your team members in external channels, such as social campaigns and newsletters. Highlight the contributions they make to your organization, as well as your mission. Recognize time spent in support of your company through employment anniversaries starting from year one.
Some remote companies have created sabbaticals as a reward for hard work and loyalty; after five years at Buffer, for example, employees can take a six-week fully paid leave to do whatever they want. Whether your untethered teammates hit the beach or just the couch, they’ll rest easier knowing that your culture is designed to preserve and promote their mental and emotional well-being.
Influencing others to embrace ongoing learning opportunities and continuous improvement starts with a healthy company culture. By providing visible recognition to those making strides in your organization, you’ll set the tone for the kind of remote environment that’s the envy of its peers—and the delight of its people.
Tell us: How does your team recognize accomplishments remotely? If you have any tips to share, we’d love to hear them! (Be sure to use #remoterewards on Twitter.)