Giving praise and recognition is vital. Staff need to feel valued to have a sense of their unique place in the company’s mission, and engagement comes when individuals and teams feel noticed – and appreciated.
The long tail of the pandemic means a large percentage of employees will be working from home for quite some time. Independent research has shown overwhelmingly that this is a positive for most, with our Work Happy survey showing that 87% want to continue with remote working in one form or another.
So, how can we, as leaders, ensure we are giving effective praise to remote employees? And how can we make that recognition meaningful?
For many office-based staff, spontaneous recognition can be the high point of the week – the ‘Hey! Well done!’ called across the desk for a new client pitch just won, the Friday post-lunch doughnuts for a record-breaking week, or the burst of colleague applause at a morning stand-up for code gone live. For remote workers the opportunity to be buoyed by this type of sub-conscious, unplanned recognition doesn’t exist. This can leave those working from home, or off site, feeling left out and directionless – even forgotten in their physical absence.
Ironically, in the current climate it’s often those who are working from home that are the heroes, stepping up to work in a new way, continuing to deliver from a strange environment and often with limited resources. It’s to these guys – and all those high performers, winners of sales and completers of tasks – that we need to be directing praise and recognition. Although 24% of those we surveyed said they felt more recognised, and 27% feeling more valued, since they started working remotely, 19% felt less recognised and less valued. It’s this delicate balance that needs to be addressed to ensure engagement is maintained across all employees, whether they are working remotely or close at hand.
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Managers need to ensure they maintain connections, keep up the flow of communication and continue to recognise all employees, reassuring them that they are still as important in the business as they were when they were physically present.
With Microsoft 365 there are a number of tools that can open up that spontaneous, rewarding dialogue from manager to employee, colleague to colleague, or even employee to manager!
Yammer is one of the best of these tools, allowing the user to act as reactively as they can in person. Yammer is a ‘Facebook for your business’ empowering networks of communication within your organisation. Fuelled by real human interactions and the exchange of ideas and feedback, Yammer is the perfect source of praise and recognition for remote staff who are likely to be using the ‘business social’ network to maintain personal connections with their colleagues on a day-to-day basis.
An employee can give a shout out to anyone in their Yammer network by selecting Praise, adding an image or icon, detailing the praise and even sharing this with as many people as they’d like, making the validation public and the recognition widespread.
Using Yammer Announcements, a manager can also, for example, welcome a new person to the team with text, a video, image or Gif – calling attention to their skills, including their new colleagues on the announcement and recognising them within their new network.
The most meaningful feedback for any individual should be both genuine and personalised, and this will come from a genuine awareness of the employee’s activities and the successes that are present in their ongoing behaviours and attitudes – as well as their stand-out deliverables. M365 has an even wider capacity to enable valuable recognition with many of the core tools providing essential insight as well as direct routes to communicate praise.
As well as maintaining regular open communication through Yammer and Teams and, for the business that uses M365 apps and Workplace Analytics, leaders can gain essential insights into how and when employees are working – identifying positive skills and behaviours, and spotting where individuals are building or nurturing valuable networks. These modelled behaviours can be called out via Yammer or even celebrated in regular weekly Teams video calls, maybe even giving the praised employee a forum to share their screen, or files, and demonstrate their skills or knowledge.
With Yammer integrated into Teams, SharePoint and other M365 apps, those Praise call-outs can sit right at the heart of the team, recognising the individual in the context of the work that they are doing.
The unique space that Yammer sits in also means it is a network that opens up two-way communication between leaders and employees at all levels of the organisation. Praise given on Yammer is often visible to those an employee may want to influence, or impress, providing far more opportunities for positive exposure than a pat on the back or a Friday doughnut could deliver!