The end of the year is here, and it’s important to acknowledge all the hard work given from your employees. But how so during a pandemic? Read below for some employee recognition ideas.
This year has taught us a lot about communicating virtually and leveraging available technologies to make the most of a tough situation. Companies have sought alternatives to business models that relied on human interaction.
Whether they’re in the fitness industry offering online classes, in the tourism branch turning to virtual experiences, or developing and relying on new hygiene protocols and delivery mechanisms to survive in the hard-hit food and beverage world.
Yet at the heart and soul of every step of innovation and success throughout this difficult year is the workforce that makes it all possible – the employees that have gone above and beyond, often adapting overnight to help keep things afloat. That’s why it’s more important than ever to recognize the people who help us make our dreams come true.
Why Employee Recognition is Critical This Year
It’s been a hard year, but more than that, it’s been a year punctuated by intense social isolation and the looming threat of burnout. Stress and anxiety have been at an all-time high for many. And countless workers have had to not only lose their jobs due to strained budgets and exhausted coffers, but due to the demands of balancing workplace pressures and a quarantined family life.
Employees need to be recognized and appreciated this year through personalized messages and gifts; through bonuses and privileges tailored to their needs and situations; through a gesture that shows you understand what they’ve been going through, value the sacrifices they have made, and wish to reciprocate in a way that shows you want them to stay on, and continue to feel like a part of something greater, even at a long distance.
Below are six employee recognition ideas during this difficult holiday season. Ideas that are both meaningful and helps foster greater bonds and connections.
1. A Virtual Holiday Party
Now that we’re approaching the final few weeks of the year, it’s to be expected that most companies who have been relying on virtual communication technology up to this point have learned a lot when it comes to throwing a good virtual meeting. There are a few do’s and don’ts, and an important learning curve when working with new hardware and software.
Here are few important tips:
- Make sure everyone is on the same page. The last thing you want in the way of a good time is confusion, misunderstanding, and frustration. Make sure to do one or two test calls beforehand, check and double check that everyone knows when the party starts, and pick a program everyone is familiar with at this point (or leave ample time for them to get familiar).
- Make the booze optional or eliminate it altogether. Alcohol can be an easy way to loosen up, but some people don’t want to drink it, and others shouldn’t. Making it the norm to get buzzed at every major company occasion might not be the best idea for promoting an inclusive and healthy team culture.
- Tie the party together with a hands-on event or activity. Consider ordering and delivering some form of craft to everyone, from paper folding to cookie-making, or even a culinary class disguised as a virtual teambuilding activity.
- Consider a theme for costuming. Things are always a bit more fun with a little dress code, especially when it encourages a creative outfit.
A virtual party might not beat the real thing, but it can be much less of a burden on the company bank, which means you get to invest more heavily in other forms of appreciation. This includes coordinating deliveries to help make virtual events and activities more interactive, or preparing fancy personalized gifts that cater to each employee’s wishes, hobbies, and interests.
2. An Unforgettable Experience
One way to make sure your employees know that you appreciate them is by funding a trip or experience they’re likely to appreciate. Rather than investing in teambuilding activities that require interaction, you can help improve employee morale by individualizing these experiences. Instead, offer that they take their loved ones with them to enjoy them together – whether it’d be a weekend at a nearby resort, a fancy spa, a once-in-a-lifetime local culinary experience, and so on.
3. Unique Gifts That Suit Your Employees
This year, why not compensate for the expenses of arranging fancy business catering, venue costs, hiring talent, and paying for travel by investing in individualized gifts?
If you know what your employees individually value and appreciate, then you might already have an idea of how to best fill their holiday stocking – alternatively, you can ask around. A personalized gift like a pair of designer shoes, a self-cleaning water bottle, a musical instrument, or a top-quality climbing kit would far outlast a single experience.
4. An Opportunity to Learn
Once an employee reaches a salary they’re happy with, money often no longer motivates them as much as other, far more substantial motivators – such as the opportunity to earn recognition, and the opportunity to learn. A learning experience, especially one that relates to an employee’s career goals and personal goals, can be even more valuable than any other kind of gift.
Consider what kind of an experience your employee might be looking for as a way to advance to the next level – be it a specialized training program, a coaching or mentoring experience, or something else. Helping employees fulfill their personal goals isn’t just about doing something for them. That experience in turn helps them bring new things to the table at work.
5. A Virtual Leaderboard and Achievement Tracker
In companies that thrive on fostering a competitive spirit among their employees, a lot of that interaction and competitive edge goes missing once a team becomes completely virtual.
It’s important to keep up the pace by introducing new ways to challenge your employees and capitalize on their competitive drive through virtual leaderboards, hidden and scored achievements, and tiered prizes to be given out each month or quarter. Not only is it a great way to recognize each employee’s individual achievements, but it can help a culture built on a competitive team spirit stick together and create memorable experiences even over vast distances.
6. Some Much-Needed Time Away (from the Computer)
Because it’s been such a tough year, the best gift for some people is as simple as offering a little extra leeway, and some more time off. A break from the computer and a chance to fully recuperate may be much welcomed, and will show that you want to ensure that your employees put their own health and wellbeing first. And that you recognize their value as long-term members of the company.
Final Thought on Employee Recognition
Helping employees feel recognized and valued is ultimately what company gift-giving is all about. Especially now, when the topics of isolation and extreme stress are more relevant than ever.