We live in a new work world that is more divided than ever before.
Some of us work in the office, on the plant floor, or out in the field. And then there are others who remain or alternate with, working from home.
When was the last time you saw or heard a colleague being recognized? Is recognition front a centre in your organization? Are celebrations visible or hidden from view?
Take stock and see if you can better accommodate the needs of employees in a hybrid workforce. Learn to make recognition more visible to everyone.
For a long time, most employees were on equal standing with recognition visibility. Almost everyone was working from home during the pandemic.
But now we are looking at phasing in return to work completely or partially, and how we will accommodate those needing to or wanting to work remotely.
Many employees working from home have received less recognition than they did when working on site. Even virtual meetings can be stagnant and routine, with no emotional connection. We must value and appreciate them.
Remote employees become invisible to their bosses. This will increase as many employees return to the physical workplace. Those working from home can get left out of things, unintentionally ignored, and more likely unrecognized.
Humanize Virtual Videoconferencing Meetings
One unifying behavior during the pandemic has been holding meetings through whatever video conferencing app was available. No matter where we lived, worked, or traveled, people connected and saw each other’s faces, if cameras were on.
Videoconference meetings will continue and unify everyone wherever they work. Now we must improve the quality and effectiveness of these meetings. You can do this by really connecting with one another through this medium.
Before COVID, you had opportunities to bump into one another in the office, store, or factory. You knew things about one another simply through brief encounters in the break room, having lunch together, riding the elevator, and walking down the hallway.
Sharing personal information helps employees to bond together and more fully engage.
One way to make recognition more visible is to go beyond the agenda driven approach to recognition and shout outs in our meetings. These can lead to deathly silence when nobody has anyone to thank or recognize, or results in singling out the same people.
Instead, why not ask people to come prepared to share something they are excited about working on. Or ask, what made you proud last week with your work? What are you doing that most of us would never know about? Did you see someone demonstrate living our values? Who recently helped you solve a problem? Has someone achieved an amazing accomplishment?
Take the bull by the horns and start recognition encounters yourself. Find out what people are doing and commend them for their positive actions. Set up one-on-one video chats to have these conversations versus remaining unseen behind a regular phone.
Create social connection meetings where you set up a video conference call with the team. Or it may be a sign up for those who want to join with one another for a video chat. Share what each person has been recognized for recently, or they wish they were recognized for. Accept the informal praises and learn what’s important to others and acknowledge them for it.
Remember to be vigilant about the setup for your video calls. Ensure you have good lighting to light up your face, have an appealing background, and a good microphone if you’re concerned with using your computer microphone. You want to be seen, heard, and easily remembered. It makes you more recognizable—both in appearance and with merited recognition.
Respond to Your Leaders’ Needs
Learn the different expectations and communication preferences of leaders you report to and those you work with. I know two people whose voicemail message says not to leave them a message. They say they are horrible at returning calls. But they also say to text them instead. Honor that request. You’ll get more help from them when you need it most if you respect their preferences.
As you hear about all your leaders do, remember to stop and commend them for their successes. Thank them when they have responded to a need of yours. Make your leaders aware of second-hand knowledge about people doing amazing things. Suggest they reach out and recognize them. Mostly, they will be grateful for the insights. And it might encourage them to recognize an employee if they have been reluctant to do so in the past.
Some leaders have expectations after regular work hours and on weekends. This should be a mutually shared expectation. You, too, can set your own boundaries. However, some give and take when those moments occur will never be forgotten. This is not about gaining brownie points from your boss. It’s all about becoming more visible when needed, so deserved recognition will be visible if you work from home.
Request a one-on-one touch base meeting with your leader, preferably by video, on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. You may get their preference for only wanting phone calls, so grab whatever chance you get to update them on things. Also, find out in those sessions any business or strategic opportunities coming up where you can contribute to.
Encourage People Through Your Recognition Programs
Our Human Resources team sends out a weekly email notification of the upcoming birthdays and career milestone anniversaries for the following week. Most recognition programs allow you to post-date your ecards congratulating people. I often will go onto our social recognition program when I have some time to set up an ecard before their special day. I take time to write a carefully worded message I know will resonate with them.
Recipients have acknowledged every ecard I have sent out—even if that was never intended.
In your social recognition program’s newsfeed, don’t just like people’s comments. Never just click on the thumbs up or star icon to like them. Please add a positive comment every time to a message or ecard of those you know well. Magnify the original recognition by amplifying it with yours.
When you hear of people doing great things amazingly well and going above and beyond from a colleague, share it on one of your recognition programs. Go on your recognition programs and express recognition by saying how you just heard about what they had done. Let these second-hand compliments be a wonderful way to spread recognition. Make it visible!
To find out these hidden gems in our hybrid workforce, you must learn to reach out to people more often. The leading indicator of employee recognition is the number of interactions you have with others. As you communicate with people, you will learn about what they are doing. This provides wonderful opportunities to learn of positive behaviors, and the efforts people are going through to do their work. Now you know what to recognize them for.
Determine what you can do to enhance the visibility of recognition with employees in our emerging hybrid workforce.
Recognition Reflection: How are you increasing the visibility of recognition with at work and work from home employees?
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