Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Employees from a Distance

COVID-19 is taking its toll in the workplace. However, a recent Gartner report suggests that managers need to redouble their recognition efforts. One of the areas we can’t neglect is career milestones and other achievement celebrations. Keeping celebrations alive helps to invigorate organizations and inspire people. Follow these Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Employees from a Distance and keep the ritual and ceremony of celebrations happening.

  1. Commit to the celebratory side of work. Realize the importance that celebrations hold in the lives of employees. It is a way to honor people for their achievements and contributions. Do all you can to keep celebrations going even if they’re done differently.
  2. Create celebration memory triggers. Your job is to create recognition experiences and emotional connections that will make lasting memories for recognition recipients. Always set goals of what you want to have happen in the eyes of each person you celebrate.
  3. Prepare supportive visual imagery. Celebrations are very visual events. Develop creative signage to show or send to individuals to use. Take screen captures, photos, and quotes from people who can’t attend. Use visual overlays or backgrounds for videoconferencing.
  4. Consider the auditory messaging. Be specific and positive with how you communicate your recognition. Select meaningful and upbeat music to integrate with presentations. Invite all remote attendees to have noisemakers and party horn blowers to use at key points.
  5. Are there tactile things you need. Ensure awards or gifts are shipped well in advance so recipient has them. Build in opportunities for people to applaud. Design unifying and personalized items for everyone to wear or wave like badges or posters, etc.
  6. What about the sense of smell? Remote celebrations miss out on the olfactory senses such as food. Order cakes from a local bakery or have everyone prepare cupcakes ahead of time. If the recipient likes flowers send them flowers on the day of the virtual event.
  7. Put action into the virtual event. Orchestrate virtual attendees to wave hands and shout out on cue. Create a compilation video ahead of time of peers of the recognition recipient sending special greetings. Record a socially distanced parade with music and banners.
  8. Planning requires extra time. Always start early with planning celebrations from a distance especially with technology. Start with your purpose and your goal. How does the organization want to be represented and by who? Think of a theme to guide preparations.
  9. Orchestrate but allow improvisation. While much of celebrating from a distance requires detailed planning, make sure you allow some spontaneity as well. Invite award recipients to say a few words. Bring is surprise guests of family or former managers.
  10. Timing is absolutely everything. Up the delivery dates of awards, gifts, essential props and signage. Empower managers to represent your organization and make the celebration special. Enlist a team of supportive employees willing to pull off each celebration event.

Previously published by the author in Incentive Magazine.

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