20 Ways to Show Staff Appreciation During and After the Covid-19 Pandemic

To mark Employee Recognition Day 2021, we share these tips for acknowledging your remote team members during these trying times and beyond.

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Updated March 3, 2021

To mark Employee Recognition Day 2021, here are 20 tips for acknowledging your team members — whether remote or in-person, during these trying times and beyond. 

1.  Show More Care and Concern

Show your staff care and concern. Now is the time to drill down and ask them about their financial, physical and emotional well-being. Some people are dealing with serious issues right now. 

2.  Walk and Talk

If your local jurisdiction permits it, go out for a walk (following proper guidelines, e.g. wearing a mask) and call employees from your mobile phone. Some people have a hard time being alone right now, so reach out and connect with them while taking some important exercise yourself.

3.  Create an Online Employee Community

Set up a social recognition program or an online bulletin board for employees to express what they're grateful for. Each person can share a "success of the week." For some people, coworkers are the only "community" they belong to.

4.  Share Positive News

Roy Saunderson
Roy Saunderson

Share positive stories on the company and industry organization with your team to boost their spirits. Some people are not feeling very happy right now.

5.  Honor People Along Their Work Journey

People are pulling out all the stops with creativity, new ideas, and getting the work done. Take time to appreciate them for who they are and recognize what they do. Some people's work has drastically changed or diminished.

6.  Be Mindful of the Stages of Grief

Staff may go through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance when their workplace implements changes and job cuts. Some people will experience survivor's grief if still working. Acknowledge their emotions.

7.  Offer Support to Worried Staff

Many of your employees know someone with COVID-19 or have family dealing with serious health issues. Make sure your employee assistance program and/or counselors are available to staff.  

8.  Add Cheer to Your Meetings 

Are your Zoom meetings feeling rote right now? Liven them up with an upbeat chant or cheer at the beginning or end of the session.

9.  Make Time for Recognition

With many new and additional tasks on your plate, it's easy to neglect employee recognition. Make it a priority to schedule time each day to give thanks and praise to a member of your team, via an online recognition program, personal call or a handwritten note.

10. Hold Virtual Celebrations 

The show must go on and you should continue to mark achievements and milestones in these stressful times. With the pandemic preventing live events, get creative: organize online virtual celebrations, with special goodies and gifts delivered to people's homes, so everyone can participate.

11. Determine Pride Points

Chris Littlefield, founder of Beyond Thank You suggests asking employees what they’re most proud of in the last six months. Listen carefully to what they say, and you will quickly learn what matters most to each employee. 

12.  Ask About Home Situation

Make one of your one-on-one meetings with each staff about working from home. What are they dealing with in working from home? How is the situation with family, children and school? How can you help them?

13. Remove Barriers

There are constraints in working from home like time issues, technology challenges, or a lack of communication. Take note of each concern and work on operationally and report back on progress with addressing concerns.

14. Use Programs Frequently

Go onto your online recognition programs daily and send positive messages. Celebrate people’s birthdays and work anniversaries. Acknowledge people for their help and the positive actions you see.

15. Create Employee Connection Plans

Facilitate discussion in staff meetings on creating better connections. What internal processes must be improved? What is the preference for each employee? Some will be grateful for less connections. Find out.

16. Limit Email to Office Hours

Boundaries relieve employees from feeling compelled to respond to senders’ emails after hours. It allows staff to separate their work and their personal lives better especially since COVID-19 has affected things.

17. Offer Flexible Schedules

Sticking to 9-to-5 schedules may no longer be realistic due to childcare/elder-care responsibilities. Be open minded to budgeting of work time while accommodating others’ time zones and time constraints.

18. Encourage Peak Productivity

If staff are not used to working from home their productivity may wane. Invite staff to identify their peak performance hours and prioritize important tasks during these times and make time slots interruption free.  

19. Virtually Socialize

Create the chance for staff to connect and socialize informally while remote. This can be done through scheduled happy hours or at lunch and learns. This is especially helpful when staff cross multiple locations and time zones.

20. Offer Online Learning

Career development shouldn’t stop because people work from home. Draw upon industry and professional certification programs. Have Learning & Development advertise existing resources. Offer to cover learning costs.

Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is the author of Practicing Recognition. He is also a recognition strategist and the Chief Learning Officer at Rideau Inc. Saunderson provides consulting, learning and thought-leadership services, focused on helping leaders and managers give real recognition the right way. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter and at his AuthenticRecognition.com blog.