Rewarding employees for their continued focus, dedication and adaptability during this difficult year has definitely been a new and, at times, momentous challenge. How can we expect supervisors, managers and employees to give praise, show appreciation and build strong working relationships with colleagues when offices are nearly vacant?
Even if you remove the in-person elements that most people associate with recognizing employees — congratulatory desk drops, public kudos, office-wide celebrations, etc. — it is possible to create and execute an employee rewards program that will flourish. This is especially reassuring given the fact that now your on- and off-site teams may need engagement, appreciation and encouragement more than ever.
Employee Reward Programs That Work
With the right employee rewards program, you can show appreciation, meet your goals, and even grow your business — all without ever having to set foot in an office building. Here are five ways businesses can rethink employee rewards programs.
Since employees must make a stronger effort to connect when working in a fully remote or digital environment, take the opportunity to reward them for learning and utilizing any new technology that advances collaboration. People can no longer wander over to the next cubicle or knock on an office door to chat; instead, they spend their days video conferencing, text messaging, reading through longer-than-usual email chains and conversing via Skype. As your methods of communication evolve, so can your employee rewards programs.
Imagine giving each employee a specific number of rewards points that they can distribute to others to recognize great work. Then, encourage employees to share digital praise in the form of these rewards points with colleagues who are keeping communications strong and projects moving. Finally, create an online store where employees can trade in rewards points for enviable swag.
Offering forums like Yammer? Use rewards points to encourage employees to engage with new platforms. Starting a group, replying to a question or sharing information could all reap the employee some rewards points. Similarly, you could bestow rewards points on employees who attend “lunch and learns” or online trainings. What a novel way to demonstrate your commitment to doing business in the new normal, while also having a little fun.
Surprise and Delight
The home office, kitchen table and family room couch have all become the official workstations for remote workers everywhere. In other words, an employee’s home is now also their office. But this shouldn’t stop you from making a desk drop. In fact, it’s the perfect opportunity for a “surprise and delight” moment. Send a small token of appreciation to your employees’ homes. Maybe it’s new headphones for all those video conference calls, an insulated coffee mug with your company’s logo or a simple box of chocolates with a personalized note. This approach serves as a reminder to employees — it shows them that you care, that you’re thinking about them and that their hard work does not go unnoticed.
Want to add a little more creativity or congratulatory spirit to your “surprise and delight moment”? Create a signature company cocktail, and then send the ingredients to your employees’ homes. Or plan a virtual toast with some sparkling cider to show your team just how proud you are of the work they’ve done. You can even tie some “surprise and delight” into your online store by adding a few extra rewards points to your employees’ accounts, and then sending out a personalized congratulatory note.
During difficult times, employees look to their leaders for reassurance and guidance. This is not only an opportunity for your company’s leadership to step up the emails, video meetings, voice messages and personalized outreach, but also a chance to show solidarity with your team. Offer new swag items like branded sweatshirts, blankets, step trackers, dog leashes and other comfort items to show your employees that times may have changed, but your commitment to the team certainly has not. Magnify your efforts to strengthen employee health and well-being by demonstrating a “we’re all in this together” mentality.
Leadership could also use this time as a chance to create a more “open door” communications policy, allowing employees to more readily share their thoughts, successes and challenges. In fact, rewarding employees for sharing tips, tricks and personal processes to make things easier could be another component of a new employee rewards program. It never hurts to give accolades to those who aren’t afraid to think outside the box and speak up.
Employee rewards programs can also be used as a way to encourage employees to break out of their shells. Company-wide meetings that were once in boardrooms or auditoriums are now conference calls and video meetups. Why not offer rewards points, swag bags and digital codes to online retailers for actively participating in such activities?
Registering online can garner rewards points, as could asking questions or posting comments to the company intranet. Companies could even create virtual environments to enhance collaboration. The use of Augmented Reality and/or Virtual Reality has created a new dimension of interactivity, with some companies going as far as creating virtual worlds for internal training. Of course, those who participate in the training are rewarded for their time, effort and acceptance of this new way of interacting with rewards points.
It’s been mentioned, but it bears repeating — going above and beyond to maximize peer-to-peer interaction during this time is crucial. The ability to build rapport can take a hit when there is little to no in-person collaboration. Allowing workers to reward and show appreciation for one another is vital. Employee rewards programs can do this in spades. From bestowing rewards points for a job well done to nominating a teammate for a gift after a tough but victorious project can keep spirits high and minds focused on the work at hand.
Peer recognition can spark new connections, help to ensure lines of communication remain open, and reassure your team that hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. Having a platform for your employees to show their appreciation to others is vital when a simple face-to-face thank you or appreciative smile no longer takes place.
The New Normal for Employee Reward Programs
It’s true. When things are new and different, or times get tough, everyone, including each of your colleagues and teammates, could use a little extra appreciation and recognition. It can be easy to think everyone and everything is just fine and continue with your day-to-day work. But, you might be overlooking a critical element that your employees are lacking. Employee rewards programs can go a long way in filling in the gaps created by distance and uncertainty.
So, if any or all of these ideas sound interesting to you, know that GO2 Partners is here to help. We’d be happy to chat through any one — or a combination of all five — of these opportunities with you. As experts in the field of employee rewards programs, we can lend our knowledge and know-how about everything from today’s hottest swag items to innovative online storefronts and from unique “surprise and delight” opportunities to original virtual environments. The value of an engaged employee cannot be overstated — and an effective employee rewards program can be just as valuable.