The business challenges thrown up by the coronavirus pandemic for organisations are many, not least that remote working has moved from the exception to the norm worldwide. However, now that the lockdown is being eased, two of the key questions to ask are: “How will social distancing be implemented in the workplace?” and “How do I manage remote teams over the foreseeable future?”
Aside from the practical aspects of putting in place safe distancing protocols and practices, many businesses are beginning to think about how they plan for and manage remote working employees and those on rotating shift patterns. The need to adopt more flexible working arrangements that embrace social distancing is new to many managers and business leaders. With this comes new questions around “How do you present the new working conditions as attractive to the workforce?” and “How do you motivate and reward your people in these new circumstances to ensure that you get the best out of them?”
It is important to remember that such dramatic workplace changes such as remote home working undertaken for sustained periods, can be both isolating and jarring for employees accustomed to coming into an office every day. So, the need to link remote working employees and look after their wellbeing has never been greater.
The shift to home working has also placed a great reliance upon technology to ensure businesses continue to operate and have effective communication between employees and with customers. Video conferencing may have felt awkward at the beginning, but many people have embraced it and now appreciate its advantages, despite the buffering issues that we all experience. This is resulting in more and more people working in virtual teams.
New work practices
These new work practices mean that now more than ever, employees will need to be supported and their performance recognised and rewarded. This will create effective teams for the long term. Coronavirus is here to stay for many years to come and may in fact be overtaken by the next new pandemic.
This is therefore a great opportunity to change the way employers reward and recognise their employees. Those businesses that bring changes to celebrate the hard work of their employees will energise the performance of the business and get the best out of their people. Whilst each employee has his or her own needs and demands, they all have similarities in their needs as outlined by Maslow in his Hierarchy of Needs Study, which concluded that individuals have universal needs to satisfy, covering physical, social and personal needs. What this means for HR departments is that it is possible to put together a portfolio of rewards and benefits that best meets them in today’s new working environments (1).
Whilst designing employee reward schemes can be boring, at Bravo Benefits, we’re changing that. Both through the provision of a benefits platform and a reward and recognition program which will help you to celebrate and inspire your employee’s team. This includes a company-wide communication tool and a recognition scheme that puts work recognition of performance at the centre of the rewards program.
It is an easy way to keep remote employees engaged by continuously supporting them through recognition. Recognition is a meaningful way to demonstrate to employees that you care about their work and wellbeing, even when they aren’t in the office or working at their desks. Furthermore, not only does recognition improve employee engagement, it also strengthens the manager-to-peer relationships and peer-to-peer relationships. One of the best ways to support these businesses is by purchasing gift cards that your employees can redeem at a later date.
It’s well known that employees prefer to be recognised with gift cards instead of cash. In offering gift cards, you provide something tangible that they can bring home and go through the shopping experience as something extra with the family, rather than just a credit balance in the current account. A gift card also gives employers the opportunity to personalise the award by including a personal message. It is important to ensure that your gift cards can purchased through an automated rewards platform so that they can send them via email – these types of gift cards are often available through retail discount schemes. Good recognition programs should also enable peer-to-peer recognition, so that they can send public thanks to their colleagues.
Importance of being timely
It’s important to keep track of what employees are doing at your company, even if your entire workforce is now working remotely. If you see behavior that should be rewarded, don’t wait! Reward that employee instantly to make your recognition more meaningful. You can do this through a myriad of channels: on the messaging system of your benefits platform, using the recognition platform, or highlighting the employee verbally during impromptu video meetings.
The importance of timely recognition is only enhanced as many employees change their working hours to accommodate for at-home schedules. With children home from school during the coronavirus pandemic to having to home-cook every meal, many employees have changed their hours to provide more household support. Instead of waiting until they have gone offline for the day to send a recognition, make sure you send it immediately when the employee can see it, so the impact is greater.
Energise and enhance employees with Professional Development
One engaging way to reward and recognise employees is by providing them with professional development opportunities. With all the spare time that they may have from stopping travelling to work, they could look at learning new skills and developing their knowledge base. Giving them access to online courses that are offered with the Bravo Benefits platform, SmartHive, can provide this. This can ensure that employees can grow professionally in a time where they might feel stagnant.
Meet the challenges head-on
The key people management point that employers and business leaders need to embrace and be aware of is that remote employees are more likely to become disengaged with the business if they are not rewarded and communicated with. This is especially true when large numbers of people have shifted to remote work.
With hundreds of distractions at home, from crying children to the allure of checking social media with no one looking over your shoulder, it’s easy to disengage from the job. So, it is important for all employers to look at how they communicate and engage with their teams. Recognition is a meaningful way to demonstrate to employees that you care about their work and wellbeing, even when they aren’t in the office or working at their desks.
Managing Director, Bravo Benefits
Provider of the SmartHive Platform.
Smart Hive is an integrated, cost effective employee benefits platform that provides your employees with access to all their health and wellbeing benefits in one place. Talk to a member of our team today or book your very own demonstration.