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.

How To Stay Connected with Your Employees

It’s being expected with more employees working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic that some folks are losing their usual connection with leaders, managers, and peers.

What can you do to stay better connected with all of your employees? 

Consider these suggestions if you haven’t already done so.

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Top 10 Ways to Recognize Remote Workers (2010 version)

This post was originally written for Incentive Magazine back in 2010. It’s amazing what can happen in a decade, with so many work from home employees due to the pandemic. Naturally, this only applies to knowledge workers, certain professionals, information technology, and other office workers able to perform most of their job functions at home.

Addenda are made when needed to comply with our current pandemic health prevention or restrictions.

Managing people who work at a distance from a company office is a far different situation than managing those we work with in person.  Rather than trying to manage a remote worker the same ways as you would someone in the next office, try these top 10 ways to build trust, inspire confidence and recognize your remote employees.

  1. Keep everyone connected.  Make it easy for on-site colleagues to get in touch with remote workers. Telephone systems, instant messaging and voice calling over internet applications enable remote workers to feel connected and a part of the team. [Now we have videoconferencing tools such as Zoom which was founded in 2011.]
  2. Recognize expectations met. Remote workers consistently meet deadlines and expected levels of performance and should be recognized as valuable assets for their focused dedication. Make time to quickly phone them or leave after work voice mails to specifically praise them for their dependable track record.
  3. Encourage transparency.  Support remote workers personal needs with family and life by developing transparent sharing of schedules and appointments.  Just knowing where they are at any given time helps build trust with the rest of the team who are used to more traditional work schedules.  [COVID-19 has required multiple partners, spouses, and children to be home together and juggling personal needs and use of technology and internet.]
  4. Get information out at lightning speed.  Ensure your remote team members not only have access to the same formal and informal sources of information as their colleagues in the office but that they even get it before the internals do.
  5. Schedule weekly conversations.   Remote workers are often reluctant to seek help from their managers, human resource experts, or external sources. Set up a regular day and time to discuss workloads and assignments, ask and answer questions and concerns to maintain an open line of communication.
  6. Offer time management training. The greatest challenge for remote workers is balancing priorities to get tasks completed.  This training should include the unique challenges of dealing with family, friends, and unusual interruptions; and the feelings of guilt associated with working excessive hours. [Many new work from home employees need guidance and productivity tips to deal with isolation and work pressures.]
  7. Declare weekends free.  Create clear guidelines and expectations regarding response to e-mails and assignments on weekends.  Dedicated remote workers can easily fall into the trap of working 24/7.  Encourage shut-down and “off times” with standards on exceptions to the rule to help prevent burnout.
  8. Do remotely special things. Think about what home office employees experience on a regular basis. Now realize what remote workers are missing out on and be creative on trying to recreate that in their lives – sending edible flower arrangements on anniversaries; personalized pens and latest office gizmos; and taking them out for lunch on a specially arranged visit to their hometown location. [While you might not have the freedom to send tangible items, make sure you show them care and concern, and give what you can to support them.]
  9. Empower workers for productivity.  Provide training and mentoring on overcoming the challenges of working remotely. Training will help make remote workers more productive and more satisfied with their working experience.  Provide the choice of offering this training remotely or in-class at the company location. [There are multiple sources for online training now since in-class instructions is prohibited.]
  10. Managers must learn how to trust. Managers must learn and adapt to managing the ever-growing virtual employees now in excess of 50 million.  Learning how to create high-trust relationships must become a core skill for managing the almost invisible powerhouse of remote workers.

Recognition Reflection: What practices have you started doing to better appreciate your new “work from home” employees?

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.

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Top 10 Positive Actions to Take with the COVID-19 Crisis

While many companies have moved to a work from home way of life for the immediate future, we still have companies that are proceeding with business. These helpful actions are a good way to keep your employees healthy and your business running strong during a health crisis, no matter where they are working from.  

  1. Keep employees more informed. Update employees through your company’s intranet website—it’s a single place to find important organizational information.
  2. Actively encourage sick employees to stay home. Since health authorities think the virus mainly spreads person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people, encourage sick employees to stay at home and consult their doctor, no matter how minor the symptoms are.
  3. Go virtual for your meetings. To lessen the number of close contact meetings, consider going more virtual with on-line or teleconference meetings. Many leading tech companies are providing free access to their software so people can connect during this time.
  4. Create telecommute options, where possible. If work functions fit and circumstances such as high geographic incidence rates raise a high risk for contracting COVID-19, offer employees the option to work from home.
  5. Practice healthy living. Promote healthy habits by encouraging employees to follow guidelines from the CDC, WHO, and local health authorities, etc.
  6. Purchase supplies. Try to keep your facilities stocked with tissues, soap, and anti-bacterial cleansers to help employees practice healthy living and reduce spread.
  7. Use regular email communications. Send out email communications reminding employees of the right and wrong things to be doing like avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth to prevent spread of germs.  
  8. If someone should get the Coronavirus. Be prepared to have the communication channels available and use managers to inform your entire workforce immediately on how to mitigate risk.  
  9. Show caring concern. Send a get-well card and/or gift basket to your ill employee to let them know you care since no one plans on catching the flu.
  10. Signs for the times. Post signs in restrooms, throughout office or common areas reminding all to wash their hands and wiping down their workstations frequently. 

Trying to accept this new “normal” is difficult. However, businesses that have a strategy, keep the lines of communication open, and understand the ever-changing impacts of positive actions, will weather this storm.

Recognition Reflection: What special steps are you taking for dealing with the COVID-19 virus and helping your employees?