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10 ways to reward remote employees


Everyone likes to be recognized for their efforts – whether it’s a very public kudos or a hand-written note discreetly mailed to their home. In fact, employee recognition is considered one of the top ways to motivate people to do their best work and increase productivity.

According to the Society of Human Resource Management ,79 percent of employees say recognition makes them work harder and 78 percent say recognition makes them more productive and better equipped to handle change.

In today’s business world where more and more companies are shifting to a remote workforce and spending less time interacting face-to-face, finding new ways to reward your employees is more important than ever.

Here are 10 ideas to reward your remote employees and help them stay motivated to do their best work yet.

1.  Be flexible

One of the best ways leaders can reward their employees is by granting them autonomy and showing grace when they don’t follow your way of doing things.

A lot of decisions are being made by a lot of people. Not everyone is going to agree with every decision.

Robert Cagle, Customer Relationship Manager, Houston, Texas

2. Know your employees

Offer a varied work schedule or allowing for non-traditional hours as business allows can be a great perk. But remember that a gift is something someone wants to get, not one that someone wants to give. 

For example, If I’m an early bird – my manager telling me I could sleep late, start the day at noon, stop for dinner and finish up at 10 p.m. would be a nightmare for me, though others might ride the joy of that for days. 

Truly knowing your employees and what would be a reward to them is one of the greatest gifts a manager can give.

Cathy Kolcun, Customer Relationship Manager, New York, New York

3.  Offer learning opportunities

One way to reward your employees is to provide them with classes they can access for free or at a reduced cost.

By giving them an opportunity to take part in a wide variety of options such as exercise, cooking and meditation in addition to professional development courses you can support their mental and physical wellbeing.

You can also check out professional development classes offered in your local area and sign your team up. This supports both your employees and your community.

4. Give timely gifts

  • Supply remote employees with a stay-safe kit that includes a cloth mask, hand sanitizer, gloves, etc. These items could be branded with your company logo.
  • Put together some virtual team building events such as playing Pictionary, participating in a scavenger hunt or in a game of charades.
  • Give out movie gift cards so employees can choose movie options online from the comfort of their home.

Roger Carbajal, Human Resources Specialist, Irving, Texas

5.  Don’t forget the company swag

Everybody likes a great polo shirt with the company logo.

Mailing company branded items to your employees for a job well done or as a simple token of appreciation can be a great way to give them a company branded boost.

6. Stay connected

  • Celebrate each other’s successes through team appreciation. Beginning weekly team meetings with a kudos for each other is a great morale builder.
  • Hold a weekly virtual social with a theme to do together. Some ideas could include dressing in your favorite decade or a word teaser. It’s a great way to have a little fun without interfering too much in after-work hours.
  • Simple check-ins via chat and Skype makes it easy to connect, but it’s also important to make the effort to check in directly with team members who might be disconnected and bogged down due to meetings.
  • It’s also helpful to reach out to colleagues from other teams via chat or phone to connect with others across the company and hear how they are doing.

Alison R. Entis, PHR, SHRM-CP, Customer Relationship Manager, McLean, Virginia

7. Encourage peer-to-peer recognition

Peer-to-peer recognition programs are another great way to motivate your employees and build a strong team comradery while boosting employee engagement.

You can recognize employee achievements by highlighting them on your company intranet to encourage company-wide participation. When employees are recognized by their peers it raises the bar for everyone involved and helps solidify a positive company culture.

8.  Make it a team effort

  • Send electronic personal or team-wide thank-you cards.
  • Acknowledge employees’ birthdays and anniversaries in regular team meetings.
  • Send out a team-wide e-mail acknowledging your employees’ work and how they went above and beyond.
  • Incorporate virtual team building activities during video zoom calls – name that tune, bingo, pet picture day.
  • Send random instant messages to the group: “just checking in” or an HR appropriate joke or riddle.
  • Ask employees to name a few of their favorite things – food, restaurants, hobbies, etc. and incorporate their personal perks when rewarding them such as sending a food delivery from their favorite restaurants and grocery stores or merchant gift cards from their favorite stores for online shopping or home office supplies.
  • Consider giving a half day of paid time off or an early “unplug” with pay to support a healthy work-life balance.

Gloria Sims, PHR, SHRM-CP, Senior HR Specialist, Fort Worth, Texas

9. Provide a personal touch

Reviving the lost art of the handwritten thank-you note can be a thoughtful gesture in this age of virtual technology.

A short thank you received in the mail shows that you value your employee and have invested time in acknowledging their efforts.

Taking the time to share your genuine heartfelt thoughts with your employees can make a huge impact on them and go a long way in relationship building. Great leaders know that behind every successful business there is a caring culture.

10. Embrace diversity

Your team members are all unique. They have different ethnic backgrounds, live in different areas of the country and are all ages. Take the time to educate yourself on their varied backgrounds and cultures and acknowledge the individual traditions and holidays that are meaningful to them.

One way you could do this is to invite your team to participate in a casual “get to know me” activity that gives people the opportunity to share a family tradition, custom or favorite family recipe with each other. This creates an opportunity for dialogue with all team members to share their unique life experiences with each other.

This level of interest models a healthy, diverse company culture and shows respect and recognition for them as individuals.

In summary

In today’s dynamic working environment, it’s essential to maintain a cohesive company culture that supports remote employees and recognizes their achievements. When you invest in the success of your employees your business is more likely to thrive.

To learn more about how to support your employees and promote a healthy company culture – like ideas on how to reward remote employees – download our free e-book: How to develop a top-notch workforce that will accelerate your business.