How To Celebrate Your Amazing Employees During the COVID-19 Crisis

In a recent recommendations list for dealing with the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, I mentioned the need to “remember to celebrate” your many new employees working from home. Whether birthdays, career milestones, or going above and beyond, along with the display of incredible resiliency of so many employees, there’s always so much to celebrate with our employees. And remember to thank and recognize others who assist you in your daily work and life in general.

How to celebrate employees effectively from a distance and those around you is not always easy, but it is always possible. To stimulate some celebration ideas for you, consider the following list.

1.  Go behind the scenes for deeper appreciation. Like behind-the-scenes clips of movies, have a short conversation with staff to find out all they are doing to make their work happen. Beyond their actual work, express gratitude for what they are doing to get their work done and let them know they matter, and you appreciate their efforts.

2.  Acknowledge the risk taken as well as their work. You might have realized that there are people in your own organization and outside who are taking on more risks than ever before. Cleaning staff are one group that are often unseen and taken for granted. Identify the new risk takers in your organization and recognize them. 

3.  Thank people for self-isolating themselves. Always thank people for the positive behaviors they are doing. Let them know the impact their positive and unique actions have on others. These safe health care actions are so important. As the Alberta Chief Medical Officer said, “If you are self-isolating right now, let me say thank you. Your actions are life saving for others.” 

4.  Express gratitude to those accepting to work from home. For those who have never worked from home before, becoming a virtual employee is not an easy one. They are making sacrifices and setting up offices in places they never expected to be working from. And they’re doing their very best to juggle children and pets in the background.

5.   Work anniversaries happen no matter where you are. The calendar changes every day and your employees’ career anniversary falls on the same day each year. Stop and connect using videoconferencing technology to congratulate and thank the employee for their continued dedication. Managers should own responsibility for reaching out.

6.   Make career milestone anniversaries extra special. When someone shows the loyalty to stick around as long as they have and made positive contributions to the organization, don’t let a virus stop you from celebrating. Give them a personal call and congratulate and thank them. Your recognition vendor can also help with ecards and video messaging tools.

7.  Sing happy birthday greetings virtually to employees. Arrange for peers to video call a birthday employee to sing their greeting to and make cupcakes for themselves. Have a spouse or neighbor, deliver a cup cake using hygiene precautions, or they make their own, and have on hand for a pre-arranged greeting to blow out candles remotely. 

8.  Create extra special ecards for celebrating specific actions. People are doing all they can to mitigate risks, but they are still working in risky situations. Develop some very specific safety and going above and beyond ecards to send out to deserving people. Be very specific in describing what they are doing and the impact they make.

9.  Great work goes on all around us all. Stop and thank anyone for all they are doing to get through this crisis. Like the dollar store clerk who cleaned every basket with disinfectant and wiped down the counter after every customer transaction. Thank the nurses, doctor receptionists, curbside pickup staff, store clerks everywhere. And the doctors and health care staff working long hours and providing COVID-19 testing.

10. Learn to be double specific with recognition. Whether through social recognition newsfeeds or messaging accompanying rewards, in thank you cards or face-to-face—even six feet apart from each other (!)—use the Two-Part Specificity Rule® to express recognition by using (1) a specific statement describing the recognized Action and (2) tell them specifically the Impact their actions made on others.

Recognition Reflection: What celebration ideas have you put into practice to show your employees how much you appreciate them?

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