As your company has adapted to a new reality, so have your employees. They’ve traded spontaneous collaboration for calendar invites and “lunch and learns” for webinar replays once the kids are asleep. They’ve done what they could to create a productive workspace and keep structure to their days.
But they’re not feeling great about it. According to Limeade research, 72% of employees said they’re burned out amid the COVID-19 pandemic — a substantial increase from the 42% who said the same pre-pandemic. To stem the flow, leaders must re-emphasize well-being in the workplace as a company priority. That can and should take many forms, but one place to start, right now, is by showing appreciation for remote workers.
Remote employee appreciation: Why it matters
Saying thank you to employees won’t fix everything, but it will help reconnect them to their purpose — an important part of preventing work-from-home burnout, a potentially costly challenge resulting in low productivity and high turnover. Having a real emotional connection to their work helps employees put things into perspective when work (and life) gets hectic.
One problem, though: Many of the ways companies used to show appreciation no longer apply — office parties, trips to conferences, work-from-home days. So it’s important to find new and thoughtful ways to show employees you care — for the benefit of their well-being and your business.
6 gift ideas to show appreciation for remote workers
The key to meaningful appreciation gifts for remote workers is personalization. According to a Gallup report, more than 80% of employees say recognition motivates work performance, and the most effective recognition is honest, authentic and individualized. Gifts for remote workers don’t have to be expensive, especially if company budgets are tight.
Here are 6 ways to say thank you to employees for their hard work under unprecedented circumstances.
1. Give the gift of time
It’s likely your employees haven’t been taking enough PTO. They’re concerned about the cost of travel, if it’s safe to travel, and whether they’ll have a job when they get back. Talk with your employees and explain why you want them to prioritize well-being and use their vacation time, even if that means a staycation.
Managers should lead by example and take time off themselves to rest and recharge. Limeade data shows it’s been difficult for managers to disconnect — 59% of them report working longer hours during the pandemic.
Consider, too, that your employees have been in long days of virtual meetings for months. Do what you can to free up time on their calendars — cancel recurring meetings (or meetings that can realistically just be an email) or even block out a day for “no meetings.” That would truly be a gift.
2. Get nostalgic
If your team is missing the breakfast sandwiches they’d grab on the way to the office or the happy-hour wings at the pub next door, gift cards are a nice reminder of good times together. Most restaurants offer online gift cards, and the small businesses also would appreciate the gesture.
3. Let them choose
Part of the fun of gifts is the element of surprise, but a little participation never hurts. Use your company’s employee experience platform to send a survey asking employees to vote on their annual gift or a reward for a job well done. Let them decide between the wireless earbuds and smart speakers.
4. Help them stay sharp
Over a third of workers say their professional development has regressed during the pandemic, and about the same number said they’ve had to cancel or postpone professional training programs as a result. Consider an online learning platform or provide L&D stipends if you don’t have them in place — and give employees “development hours” to use them. Or avoid work altogether and send them audiobook credits that support independent bookstores.
5. Consider the whole family
To stay competitive, organizations need to show employees that they not only support them in their work tasks, but that they also care about them as people. Support a balanced work-family life by sending care packages with surprises for the entire household, including toys or treats for the littlest family members (two- and four-footed).
6. Or just say thank you
It could be an email, but employees get enough of those. Send an authentic note of support and appreciation with a handwritten thank-you card via the regular mail. Having your words of care on their makeshift desk will keep employees feeling connected and motivated.
Finding ways to show appreciation for your remote workers isn’t just good business, it’s the right thing to do. Accordingly, be sure to set aside time as a company to reflect on all that’s been accomplished during incredibly stressful times.
Ready to address the whole employee experience? Learn about the Limeade Well-Being platform, the only comprehensive approach to employee well-being.