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3 ways to show gratitude to your remote teams
Here's how to let remote team members know you appreciate their hard work and commitment throughout 2020's adversity
We may be in the tech business, but we’re also in the people business. All our work on digital transformation, upskilling our tech teams, and constant innovation amounts to nothing if we don’t have a solid, happy team of people supporting it.
Before COVID-19 hit, many people only dreamed of working from home. But as the past year made remote work mandatory, many employers and leaders have discovered that this model is not for everyone. Yes, it offers flexibility, but there can be downsides: According to the 2020 State of Remote Work report, 20 percent of remote employees say that loneliness is their biggest work-from-home struggle.
Showing gratitude is one way to combat these feelings. Telling our employees we appreciate them helps boost morale and builds pride in their work. Beyond that, it’s important to show how their contributions fit into the bigger picture. As tech leaders, we can show our teams that we appreciate them even when we’re all working remotely. Here’s how.
1. Normalize "work hard, play hard"
Recognizing that many of our employees were feeling stressed and depleted during the uncertainty of the pandemic last summer, we offered “Summer Fridays.” We split the team into two groups – Bora Bora and Maldives – and each group took alternate Fridays off.
[ How do your team meetings stack up? Read also: Zoom tips: 6 ways to make meetings better. ]
For employees who were juggling caretaking responsibilities and other tasks, the extra day off provided a much-needed break. Everyone benefitted from having more time to unwind and unplug from work, and even those who were working enjoyed fewer Friday meetings, allowing them time to catch up and accomplish more.
As Brian Kropp, group vice president of the HR practice at Gartner notes, “Ultimately, Summer Fridays are about organizations providing the increased flexibility that employees are seeking. It’s a way for employers to show their staff that they are valued by giving them the gift of time.”
In fact, offering this gift is positive reinforcement, disproving the myth that a summer schedule is a tradeoff for productivity. Kropp adds, “Offering your employees work-life balance can increase productivity, loyalty, and employee retention.”
2. Celebrate wins office-wide
This year, employees need recognition as never before. The simple act of showing gratitude increases optimism, boosts career goals, encourages better decision-making, and makes us generally healthier and happier.
Make it a point to celebrate accomplishments across the company. For example, at our organization we regularly celebrate individual and team achievements (especially those related to product launches) throughout the organization. We use a public Slack channel to share these accolades, but any organization-wide collaboration tool is a great way to share a virtual “high five.” Peer encouragement and feeling recognized are positive fuel for employees.
We also recognize individual wins or accomplishments – whether closing a big deal or finalizing a challenging project – on weekly company calls. Company-wide virtual meetings are a great way to thank hard-working employees.
3. Personalized praise
Each quarter, I thank each of my employees with a personal, hand-written note. These may be tied to a specific accomplishment, or they may simply express appreciation for always having a positive attitude or being a thoughtful co-worker.
Many leaders show their appreciation through gifts that employees can enjoy on their own time – for example, personalized items for the home office, a nice bottle of wine or spirit, or an item related to a particular sport or hobby they enjoy.
There are many ways to show gratitude. Find the ones that best fit you and your team.
[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]