Why Recognition Matters During COVID-19
Recognition is one of the easiest actions that leaders can take to improve employee engagement. Under normal circumstances, people leaders and managers generally give recognition to their teams on a regular basis. However, like many of our workplace practices, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting transition to remote work or work under increased pressure has disrupted the normal, organic ways that recognition is given.
Even as recognition becomes harder to give, it is arguably more valuable than ever. Employees are understandably anxious about the economic impact that COVID-19 will have on the organization and their jobs; recognition gives employees a much-needed sense of security and demonstrates the important contributions that they make to the company. Recognition is also an important messaging tool to signal to employees what is important to focus on and the contributions that are valued by the organization.
Because of this, leaders need to be more intentional about how they give recognition. Here are our recommendations for how to approach employee recognition during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How to Embrace Employee Recognition During COVID-19
- Express appreciation and gratitude for employees as part of company-wide or team-wide communications. If you can, intentionally praise individuals, noting their specific behaviors and accomplishments, and then connect their accomplishments to the overall success of the team or organization.
- Increase the frequency of recognition to keep spreading goodwill and to highlight the positive things that are happening at your company. For your organization to succeed, employees need to continue to make strides-- and recognition can encourage that. Emphasize that everyone is in this together as a company.
- Praise and communication from an immediate manager and company leaders are often more valuable than non-financial incentives and rewards. As budgets get cut, double down on the intrinsic recognition you give.
Specific Recognition You Should Give Now
- Have a senior leader give public recognition to your essential workers. They are likely working in more stressful and less safe conditions than before. It is important to recognize that fact and show your appreciation.
- Some teams at your organization have likely been wearing multiple hats or working overtime over the past two months. IT teams might have had to scramble to set up new security protocols or disperse work-from-home equipment quickly. HR members might be running crisis management teams. Communication teams might have had to provide public health info or give daily updates. Be sure to recognizes these teams and the impact that their hard work is having.
- Consider giving a shout out to all of the parents who are now working double time as home school teachers or caregivers.
- Challenge every team leader to give public recognition to someone on their team each week.
Best Practices for Giving Recognition
Follow these tips to give effective recognition year round.
- Be specific and descriptive. Emphasize the positive impact that the recognized employee(s) made by describing specifically what they did and why it mattered.
- Be timely in delivering recognition.
- Be authentic. Don't praise an individual unless you mean it.
- Give individualized recognition whenever possible.