What the world is experiencing now is genuinely unprecedented. Never before have so many people worked in such a separated way, and this rapid change has thrown a raft of issues at businesses.
Whether it’s the tech issues from a suddenly-digital workforce, or the difficulty of creating and delivering digital products, companies around the UK are finding ways to answer new challenges.
But an equally important challenge is finding a way to keep morale, engagement, and a sense of community when everyone’s at home. That’s where employee recognition, including peer-to-peer recognition, shines.
Not just for the crisis either. As we’ll discuss below, there won’t be a return to the “normal” we knew it before this pandemic. A different mentality will be coming back to the workplace, and strong employee recognition is part of building for that future.
Get it right today, for a very different tomorrow
The changes we’re all seeing now are guaranteed to have permanent effects. There are so many rules and rituals from the world of work that we’ve pared away in isolation, it will be impossible to go back like it was before.
That might be your strict office dress code, believing staff can’t work from home, or that families are incompatible with work. Without them, we can see now that these rituals were exactly that – just gestures of mutual comfort. Group therapy.
What holds companies together is the work of employees, the quality of their collaboration, and the relationships between those employees. That’s what’s holding us together right now – good people, good work, and good ideas. And that’s why this time is so vital to every business.
When the physical offices do start to re-open, we can’t put this genie back in the bottle. You can’t un-see a CEO, or department head, delivering his monthly update with his toddler on his lap. We can’t un-learn that we’re all capable of working at home. We can’t believe that a tie makes anyone better at their job.
Embracing recognition, and making it a fundamental part of how your business interacts, has always been a vital building block in employee engagement. Right now, it’s also an important part of forming a foundation that your company can build on for later. A central, accessible recognition platform makes that task much easier.
With that in mind, we’ll outline how your company will benefit from recognition during the lockdown, and in the future.
Building vital connections in difficult times
The fundamental core of recognition, particularly social recognition, is connection and communication. The very things that we’re all struggling with right now, if we’re honest. Recognition affects the quality of the connection between colleagues, their work, and their company.
Connection to colleagues
With office workers flying solo, it’s important to make sure everyone still knows their work is important and treasured. Sat in the home office, filing your work digitally, it’s easy to feel a bit disconnected. It’s also easy to feel like no one’s noticing your best efforts.
As we’re always so eager to point out, nothing makes someone feel valuable quite like gratitude. Putting that gratitude in a public forum gives it more weight – not only is their work prized by their colleagues, those colleagues feel it merits wider recognition. While we’re apart, physically, this is exactly the kind of positive communication that keeps us feeling together.
Even your furloughed employees can benefit from recognition. By making them a part of your recognition programme, it’s clear they’re not in the cold right now.
For some people, the idea of furlough might sound like a luxury, but for many employees it’s immensely stressful to feel like they’re not contributing. Recognition and inclusion now will be a game-changer in their mentality when they come back in to work.
Connection to the organisation
While our platform puts the focus on recognition between employees, managers have a vital role to play in recognition as well.
During this time, they’re the key link between an employee and their business. An avatar of your company itself. This gives them a unique responsibility. Not only are they now a vital link between staff and their company, but they’re also a vital link between staff and their work.
Recognition contextualises efforts, making it clear that work is important to wider departmental and company-wide efforts. Making sure good work is recognised, and contextualised, helps keep employees from developing tunnel vision about their work, seeing it box-ticking and task-completion.
A great deal of the satisfaction of good work is its contribution to an achievement bigger than ourselves. Managers recognising the work of their team is an opportunity to bring that to life. In turn, staff maintain a sense of connection to the importance of their contributions, and their place in the business.
Connection to values
Talking to our clients and peers in other businesses, one of the most common things we hear is the absolute, imperative need to just get work done. Vital, business-securing work. Under that kind of strain and pressure, it’s easy to justify thinking that the ends justify the means.
In that kind of environment, and without the feeling of supervision staff get from a physical office, values might be put aside. They might feel like distant concepts for a different situation. We both know, that’s not true. The crux of what we’re saying here is that they matter as much as ever.
If staff see, and learn, that enough pressure is a justifiable reason to set your values aside, they won’t be so hesitant to do it again. Recognition, however, keeps a connection to those values alive by linking them to employees’ positive efforts.
Platforms like Shout channel expressions of recognition through company values, making both elements public. This makes sure all those achievements, all the examples of collaboration, have a clear connection back to your business’ values. This keeps the values alive in the minds of your staff.
It’s not just about projecting ideas on to staff, though; workplace communication has to be a two-way street. And public recognition is your chance to listen.
Social recognition is also a chance to listen
An active peer-to-peer recognition platform makes an excellent listening tool, on top of its value in communication to staff. As employees document the achievements of their colleagues, they document what’s important to them.
Logging into the Appreciate Group recognition platform now, it’s clear what matters to our staff. Some are thanking their colleagues for keeping the lines of communication open. Some are grateful for a fast-fix to a bug on the Love2shop app. Others are just grateful that IT is providing their VPN connection. It’s a simple temperature-check for what’s going on with our peers.
Collectively, these are evidence of the kind of challenges our colleagues are dealing with, what’s most pressing to them, and what they’re most energised about fixing. You can be empathetic to what’s happening and what’s on the minds of your staff without having to continually quiz them.
And right now, what could be more valuable to your employees than a bit of empathy?
The best time to plant a tree….
As we’ve been keen to stress, right now is a crucial time to act. The workforce that walks back into the office in three, six, or nine months’ time isn’t going to be same people that went home with their laptops in March.
The strength of how they return will depend on the foundations that every business lays now, including how you embrace recognition as a core component of employee communication and collaboration. Recognition alone isn’t the answer. But it’s a vital part of a wider engagement and communication strategy that will make your company stronger when we all come back to work down the line.
As ever, if you want to talk about it, we’re here for you. Use the contact details on this page, or shoot us a question in the live chat, and we’d be happy to talk.