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In the wake of the pandemic, many employers are searching for the best ways to stay connected with their employees. Daily patterns have been disrupted, families are facing health challenges and stress is at an all-time high, it can be difficult to know exactly what to say.

If you take a "business as usual" approach, it can come across as cold and uncaring. Employees might feel as if you don't recognize the challenges they are facing outside the office or you aren't willing to be flexible for non-work related issues. But constant reminders about personal difficulties aren't helpful either - even worse, they could bring down the morale of your team.

If you are working remotely, you may even be facing challenges of your own. You may be handling added responsibilities of more communication with your team and trying to keep your employees connected and engaged, even while working in separate locations.

So what is the best approach? What is the right thing to say?

More than anything, right now your employees need recognition.

Employees want to know that their efforts are noticed, recognized, and appreciated. When the rest of the world seems in turmoil and employees feel out of control in many areas of their lives, recognition gives them goals, purpose, and meaning.

Why recognition is vital during a pandemic

With other work priorities vying for your attention, you may feel tempted to put recognition on the back burner. But doing so can cause you bigger problems down the road. Workplace changes arising from the pandemic have made recognition even more important because:

  • Employees can feel disconnected. Employees who work remotely can feel overlooked and disconnected from the rest of the team since they aren’t in the office. Yet, essential employees who continue to work onsite can feel disconnected if they are working harder than ever while recognition and communication wanes.
  • Employees are doing tasks outside the scope of their job description. Even after COVID-19 was identified, no one could have predicted what our world would look like a few months later. Frontline workers are asked to enforce social distancing policies, wear protective gear, perform extra cleaning tasks, and change the way they approach their job duties.
  • Employees report recognition as a make-or-break workplace factor. Employees tell us that recognition, or the lack of it, has a serious impact on workplace culture. Without it, 36% of employees will consider leaving their jobs. Now that many employees are working from home, 64% say recognition and appreciation are even more important.

Best practices for employee recognition

Even when employees want to be recognized, not all recognition is created equal. When recognition is treated as an obligation or a box to be checked, it will come across as insincere and can actually hurt employee morale.

To make sure your recognition efforts are worthwhile, any recognition should always be:

  • Timely - Waiting months to be noticed can feel like getting a birthday card in the mail several weeks late. The thought was nice, but the effort was lacking. For the biggest impact, make sure to notice and appreciate employees for work as soon as possible.
  • Personalized - Recognition directed to an employee by name is more meaningful and feels more authentic.
  • Specific - Spell out your reasons for delivering recognition. Not only will this add to the impact, it will also help others join in by congratulating fellow employees on their accomplishments.

How to deliver the recognition your employees crave

Recognition isn’t always easy to deliver, especially if you have new responsibilities of your own. That’s why we’ve compiled some tips for continuing to make employee recognition an important part of your internal communication plan without overloading your workweek.

  • Use recognition templates to plan ahead. You can easily see in advance when employee birthdays, work anniversaries, and other important milestones will happen. It can be time-consuming to make individual messages every day in the moment, but you can keep your recognition train moving by using Indigo’s free PowerPoint templates so all you have to do is add your detail.
  • Start an Employee Spotlight program. Encourage your managers to lighten your load by submitting one employee per month to highlight on your communication channels. For added visibility, highlight the employee across all company departments using digital signage to further strengthen your company culture.
  • Hold a Departmental Appreciation Day. Use your digital signs or other communication channels to recognize an internal department. Encourage everyone in your company to recognize employees from that department for the day. For example, you could broadcast a message encouraging all employees to give an “Air High Five” (to maintain proper social distancing) to everyone from the sales department for meeting last month’s sales goal. Rotate the departments to encourage team morale and improve company culture.
  • Explore Your Customer Feedback. Not all customer feedback is negative, and customers are often working directly with your employees. If you receive a customer testimonial that mentions an employee by name and praises them for a job well done, share the customer quote company-wide. Sharing the customer feedback on your digital signs allows a larger audience to see the positive comments which fosters a healthy culture.
  • Conduct unscheduled employee evaluations. Recognition doesn't have to be overly demonstrative. Sometimes employees just want a vote of confidence that things are going well and their contributions are appreciated. Even if your employees aren't due for an annual review, now may be an excellent opportunity to show them that you are making feedback a priority.
  • Host a virtual social hour. Advertise an open invitation to a virtual social event on your digital signs. Include information about any planned activities and how to join. You can bring in guest speakers, organize a virtual trivia game, or simply allow for some unstructured socializing in a lighthearted environment.

By utilizing your customers, management team, and employees, you can find creative ways to show recognition and keep employee spirits high. Combine these efforts with free workplace templates from Indigo, and you’ve got a winning combination. Your employees will feel valued despite the challenges arising from the pandemic.

Schedule Your FREE Demo Today to see how digital signage can take your employee appreciation to an entirely new level.

Jack Edgington

For over 30 years, Jack has led the way for workplace cultures to thrive from greater employee engagement powered by more effective communication. As a nationally recognized “Agent For Change” his unique methods and approach touches the lives of nearly 1,000,000 working individuals on a daily basis.

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