Top 10 Ways to Create a Sense of Belonging for Remote Employees

A recent Gallup survey showed less than half of employees feel strongly that their employers care about their wellbeing. And according to research from Slack with remote employees across five countries, only a sense of belonging was much worse than before the pandemic. Follow these unique ways to create a better sense of belonging with your work-from-home employees. 

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It’s The Everyday Recognition That’s A Problem

It’s time to let you in on a secret I have known for over twenty years.

When I started my business doing consulting and training around recognition practices and programs, I thought I would find all the organizations that had no recognition going on and save the world. It was a poor marketing strategy and no one from those organizations ever hired me. 

The interesting thing was it was always organizations that were doing recognition that hired me.  

It was always the same trigger that brought me in. Organizational leaders would call up whenever their employee engagement surveys came back and showed low scores for the statements or questions related to employee recognition. 

What was the disconnect? Why was it that their employee scores on the recognition questions were so low? 

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How To Get Emerging Leaders Involved With Recognition

You find yourself stuck with finding the resources you need to help with your recognition plans. 

Your organizational leaders want you to strategize how to make recognition a stronger tool to use within talent management and creating a positive employee experience. In the meantime, you must continue to manage the recognition programs, encourage managers to give recognition to employees they rarely see in person, and keep leaders informed of the ROI of employee recognition.

Why not team up with your organization or learning and development leaders and find out if your needs for recognition could become a goal for a team of emerging leaders? 

This is exactly what happened to us when an organization approached a colleague and I about presenting our thoughts and strategy around employee recognition in the retail industry.

The following happened, and you can follow these steps as a playbook to implement where you work.  

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How To Decide Whether To Give Recognition Or Rewards

If you have online recognition programs, you’ll likely have your organizational leaders asking you for guidance on when they should give recognition with no monetary reward attached and when should they give a reward.

The point you may have heard me expound upon before is that when you give recognition, you don’t have to give a reward. But whenever you give a person a reward, you must always accompany it with recognition.

Too often people equate recognition as rewards such that when you’re talking about recognition, they only see cash or some reward in their mind. Or if you only give people a written or verbal expression of appreciation, they’re wondering where the reward is.  

It’s a shame when employees think like this, but they didn’t come to this idea on their own. If you set up your programs the wrong way in the first place, they can generate a strong dependence on using rewards versus recognition. 

This still leaves us with the question, how do you decide whether to give recognition to someone or give a reward? Let’s find out what you can do. 

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What Do You Do When You’ve Been Recognized?

Take note for a week of the various ways people react after you or others give them recognition, whether in private or in public. It might surprise you the images you capture and the verbal responses you hear.

You might express the recognition face-to-face, remotely through video conferencing applications; in a written email, ecard or paper card; or through text based, audio- or video-messaged greeting on your organization’s recognition programs.  

But how does the recipient respond? 

Many people are uncomfortable being recognized. When you’ve been recognized what do you do? How accepting are you of the recognition? 

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How To Teach Others To Help You Teach Recognition

It is hard to teach everyone how to give meaningful and effective recognition to one another, no matter the size of the organization you work for.

That’s why you need to enlist an army of people to aid you. 

Dictionary.com explains that the more helpers you have available to you then the task will be easier. The proverb “many hands make light work” was reportedly first recorded in English in the early 1300s in a knightly romance known as Sir Bevis of Hampton. However, John Heywood, a 16th century writer known for his plays, poems, and collection of proverbs, is most often attributed as the originator of this proverb. 

What can you do to teach other to help you teach people in your organization how to give amazing recognition to one another? 

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What Your Leaders Need To Better Understand Recognition

WorldatWork surveyed their members and found that the average organization uses eight separate recognition programs. That’s a lot! 

However, what they don’t state is how well people use those recognition programs, either by leaders or by their employees. The secret to using these programs properly is to help your leaders better understand the value and importance of employee recognition. 

How can you get your leaders on board, and what do they first need to know about employee recognition? 

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How To Set Up a Committee for Judging Formal Awards

Formal recognition programs are often the most common type of programs present in organizations. You find that many organizations invest the most amount of time, money, and resources in their formal recognition programs. 

These more formal programs often have a prestigious name associated with them, such as Excellence Awards, Pinnacle, President’s Awards, or other branded names. These awards are where employees or managers can nominate an individual or a team for a specific award category. 

Awards will vary depending on the industry sector your organization fits under, such as, 

  • Trades and services.
  • Information and Communication Technology.
  • Healthcare and medical.
  • Mining, resources, and energy.
  • Hospitality and Tourism.

The award categories of awards might include going above in beyond in such areas as: 

  • Innovation
  • Leadership
  • Customer Service
  • Quality Improvement
  • Patient Care
  • Health and Safety
  • Sales
  • Organizational Values
  • Teamwork 

The one thing in common with all organizational formal awards, no matter what sector they are from, is the need to have a judging committee. 

And that’s what we are going to talk about today, how to set up a formal judging committee so you can recognize and celebrate the outstanding performers where you work. 

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The Right Balance of Recognition to Reward Programs

One of the many challenges in managing a recognition and rewards program is figuring out how to steer the course of your programs to maximum impact. 

And one repeated concern I see is when program owners inherit a program, they call recognition, but it’s been almost a total rewards program. Getting rid of the rewards mindset that triggers entitlement, expectations, and “more please”, is hard to unlearn. 

Providers, compensation and benefits associations, and non-profit business research organizations give good estimates on how much money to spend. They draw upon a percentage of your payroll budget or the average dollar spent per full-time equivalent (FTE) of employees. 

But what’s missing is how much to spend on the different programs. Is there a perfect balance between recognition specific programs and reward type program? How do you advocate budgets based on how people use the different types of programs? 

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