Employee Recognition: Five Ways to Show Worker Appreciation During COVID-19

Hannah Greenwood | | Employee Communications

thank you notes can show simple but sincere appreciationWhile we continue to work through these challenging times – many of us, from the safety of home – it's important to feel appreciated and recognized for our hard work. Unfortunately, Gallup has found that employees don't feel adequately recognized. In 2004, Gallup's polls showed 65% of employees received no recognition. Twelve years later, they found that only one in three workers feel they've received recognition or praise for a job well done – which translates to 67% who don't feel that way. In other words, not much has changed. The unusual circumstances of the pandemic mean that many traditional avenues for employee recognition (which weren't seen as adequate) are off the table.

So, how can we help workers feel appreciated during these unusual times?

Employee Recognition and Appreciation Is Key

Boosting morale and prioritizing wellbeing during COVID-19 is imperative to maintaining a healthy workforce. The virus has changed how we work and increased depression, anxiety and loneliness. This means encouraging employees is important for helping your business stay afloat as well as strengthening your workforce. It might feel impersonal to recognize employees over Zoom meetings or in email but hearing and seeing appreciation – especially in a way colleagues get to see – still helps. But also consider which achievements deserve a text or phone call and which deserve discussion of a promotion or raise compared to a verbal (even if public) acknowledgement of appreciation.

Sincerity is a crucial element of employee recognition. Make it personal and show you really want to make the employee feel accomplished when they've completed a project successfully. An underlying attitude of "great, you did your job so get back to work" still comes across even if you're smiling and saying, "amazing work" to their face… or screen. But employees can also sense when you've taken the time, not just to give them praise, but to fully comprehend the effort and skill on their part in completing the task. When they know they're not being taken for granted, they will continue to work hard and meet company goals. And that attitude is contagious. It inspires others to work hard so they'll be recognized too.

Five Ways to Recognize Employees

A verbal pat on the back may be the most straightforward way to appreciate someone’s hard work. But depending on the task, a pat on the back may not register high on the appreciation scale – especially during the current pandemic when completing tasks is harder and people are under added stress. So, what other ways can you recognize employees’ accomplishments? Not every accomplishment will warrant a raise or a promotion, but you can begin by looking into the practicalities of some of the following perks.

Provide Extra PTO

employee recognition matters during the stress of the pandemicThis may be more valuable to millennial employees or those who have children. Review your PTO accrual policies and grant extra hours of PTO to those who've earned them. People need a break now more than ever, but some have already used their allotment of PTO. Some used it for pandemic-related childcare needs while others in an effort to take care of their mental health. Giving more PTO shows you appreciate your workers and care enough to prevent them from burnout.

Give Gift Cards

Small wins are still wins! Gift cards are always a great little perk. Think about what that employee likes and buy them a gift card to their favorite store or restaurant. Retail establishments and restaurants are still only gradually reopening in most places, but gift cards can often be used online or for pickup orders. Plus, they help workers see the light at the end of the tunnel. You could also give more universal gift cards that function more as debit cards and can be used for everyday necessities like groceries and gas.

Use Zoom or an Internal Newsletter to Share Praise

If you would like to publicly acknowledge your employee, throw a Zoom party or add their accomplishment to your internal newsletter so everyone can see. Turning it into a Zoom celebration can actually give everyone a boost, taking a break to check in and connect over something positive.

Hold Virtual Retreats for the Team for Meeting Collective Goals

employee engagement can be boosted with trainingThere are a bunch of great activities you can do on Zoom to keep your team connected and engaged. If your employees meet a certain goal, hold a virtual happy hour or trivia session to get everyone together. You can keep a sense of competition alive by playing games that yield cool company prizes for when everyone can get back to the office. Prizes like the best parking spot, the most comfortable office chair or a free lunch from their favorite eatery will help keep everyone looking forward.

Send a Simple 'Thank You' Note

Everyone loves to get mail! Write a personalized message to employees who continuously work hard and succeed. This may seem minuscule but many appreciate the time taken out of your day to write and mail that letter.

A Little Gratitude Goes a Long Way

Everyone handles these challenging times in their own way, so it's important to keep employees engaged, motivated and excited about the work they're doing. We hope these tips help you cultivate a strong workforce community. Once we all resume our semi-normal, daily lives, these efforts will prove we can get through anything. In the meantime, appreciation is necessary, so personalize it and remember that a little thanks goes a long way!

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