7 Ways to Acknowledge Employees in a Virtual World

One of the most important things you can do for your employees is to acknowledge a job well done or cite things they have done to bring a positive change to the work environment.

Jacob Lund/stock.adobe.com

Sometimes, we as managers and executives have so much on our plate, we inadvertently let acknowledging workers slip to the bottom of our to-do lists.

Virtual Environment Creates New Opportunities

In a virtual or hybrid work world, it's even more likely that you will find yourself interacting with a few go-to people, while others — those who don't need the same level of attention, or who aren't as proactive about seeking advice or input — are largely ignored.

In a physical setting, managers are able to see employees, which may prompt the realization that they haven't interacted with that individual in a while. But working remotely, that doesn't happen as naturally.

In both physical and online settings, leaders, managers and HR professionals need to be cognizant and mindful about providing feedback regularly and consistently in a variety of ways. Below are some easy tips to make sure you are always creating an environment where your employees feel appreciated.

1. Track and Record

Conferring praise costs nothing. While spontaneous and casual recognition is welcomed, it's a good idea to be a bit more planned in your approach to employee recognition. Keep tabs of who you praise and how often you do it. This can be done in a simple spreadsheet, for instance, where you list employee names down the left-hand side, list work weeks across the top and mark an "x" in a cell whenever you've offered specific praise – in person or online. It may not seem as sincere from your standpoint, but as long as employees aren't aware of your less-than-spontaneous process, it will feel just as rewarding to them.

2. Provide Yourself with Visual Prompts...

Traditional thank you notes are a great way to provide recognition for employees and something that everyone will appreciate. Buy some notecards, keep a certain number on the side of your desk where you'll see them and make a goal of filling out a specific number each week. Tracking thank you cards will prevent overlooking someone.

3. ...Or Use Electronic Prompts

Automation can be a great way to ensure that opportunities for recognition don't slip through the cracks. This can be done informally by identifying certain "prompts" that might generate a follow-up. For example, when you receive a note or email from a customer or colleague referencing a specific employee. Or it could be done through online tools like Zapier that let you set up "what if" actions based on various events. For instance, when an employee marks a certain task as complete in your project management system, it triggers a Zapier reminder — or direct message — to recognize their accomplishment.

4. Endorse Them on LinkedIn

Every employee should have at least one characteristic that can be recognized through their LinkedIn profiles. Set a goal of recognizing a certain number of people each week, depending on the number of people reporting to you, then set aside a specific time to do so through either skills endorsements or written recommendations, or both.

5. Embed Recognition into Regularly Scheduled Meetings or Processes

After a project has wrapped up, holding a debriefing meeting is useful for reflecting on what worked well and where adjustments or improvements can be made. It's also a good time to recognize those involved in the project, collectively as team members and individually, for their contributions. Set aside time in regular conference meetings to recognize standout employees. Also, conducting regular one-on-one meetings with your employees presents an opportunity to review how well they're doing and to solicit feedback.

6. Engage Employees in the Process

Managers and formal leaders aren't the only ones whose feedback and recognition is important — employees value recognition from their peers as well. Loop them into the process by continually reminding them of the importance of peer-to-peer feedback, setting an example by publicly acknowledging your own peers. Consider the use of performance management platforms to provide the capability for peer-to-peer recognition.

7. Spread Recognition Far and Wide

Finally, don't limit your feedback only to direct reports — feedback means a lot to all of us. Set the example of being liberal and frequent with the recognition you provide to everyone around you.

Receiving feedback — both positive and constructive — is critical for employee growth and success. But it needs to be done consistently to ensure that all employees receive the feedback they deserve.

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