The New Normal has changed a lot of things we thought we knew about employee engagement. In a virtual working environment, a lack of psychological meaningfulness (defined as a sense of being valuable, useful and worthwhile) leads to challenges related to low individual commitment, social loafing and high levels of social and psychological isolation between members.
In such a situation, managing team identities and recognition virtually becomes more essential than before. Most of the recognition practices which were the norm are now required as a robust virtual recognition program. It is paramount for each organization to determine their Virtual Recognition strategy as a part of their culture to sustain and increase the sense of meaningfulness in their employee’s minds.
As managers start to see the challenges of the future like managing team identities and ensuring team culture, recognition can’t be an afterthought and needs to have some important and pertinent features. Some practices that your Virtual Recognition Strategy should definitely have that can help you build a rewarding team culture are defined in the following PRAISE Model:
- Personalize Recognition: Meaningful appreciation and recognition is the central component of a virtual recognition strategy. Recognition means much more than generic thankyou statements. It is pertinent that every recognition is about the person, their qualities and actual work. Such words builds lasting trust and a sense of belongingness with the person.
- Recognize Consistently: Amidst all the work and uncertainties it is very easy to forget recognition activities. Having a consistent and scheduled approach to recognition motivates and engages employees further. Employee wants to be assured that each of their outperformance and hard work will not go unnoticed and will be recognized as and when it happens. Building such an expectation can have a positive impact on the productivity.
- Appreciate Collectively: Team interactions have become all the more important in our virtual workplaces. It is important the recognition is not only one on one between a manager and the employee, but amongst the team. During your virtual meetings, involve others to share stories to recognise recipient’s work. A virtual social wall is an amazing example of peers appreciating each other. This involvement drastically decreases the feeling of isolation that may come with remote work.
- Involve Everyone: The celebrations or recognition should not be limited to your team, involve other colleagues and recipient’s family members as well. Do not shy away from providing a testimonial on social media platforms. Everyone wants to show the appreciation they received from their teams to their near and dear ones.
- Schedule Recognition Time: While all the engagement activities are important, recognition deserves its own space and time. While callouts during team meetings or virtual town halls are necessary but to truly provide a memorable and impactful experience recognition needs to be exclusive. Mark your calendars for a slot specifically for recognition.
- Encourage Innovative Recognition Ideas: Team mate’s recognition shouldn’t be relegated to email. A video call and fun customised zoom backgrounds ensure that everyone’s faces and smiles make the presentation a lot more meaningful. Send some home desk goodies, a pizza or a bag of cookies to the recipient, don’t let the distance subdue the importance of these moments.
Recognition, whether virtually or in person, follows the same basic tenets, but becomes center stage in a virtual working world. An effective Virtual Recognition Program will not only help you satisfy people’s psychological needs and make the experience memorable but also build an organizational culture that values connections and individual contributions.
Creating and building a reliable culture along with an effective Virtual Recognition Program can help you create a feeling of being valued, useful and worthwhile. It can instill a sense of meaningfulness in each employee, even as the human touch points decrease. In a world where organizational teams are facing psychological and mental fatigue from an extended work-from-home scenario, this feeling of distanced appreciation is something that people will appreciate the most.