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10 Ways to Reward Remote Employees And Why You Should Do It

How we reward employees is changing. New work cultures have seen a shift in the number of employees who prefer working from home compared to working in a company office. As a result, HR teams are rethinking the perk and reward systems that have traditionally benefited employees in an office environment.

Interestingly, a study by Harvard Business Review revealed that nearly two-thirds of staff are motivated to stay at their job with the presence of a motivational program for employees, and are 87 percent less likely to resign. Motivation is a powerful tool that can keep employees engaged.

Rewards and recognition for remote employees must not be overlooked, as they can transform remote culture. It’s more crucial than ever to keep employees who work from home motivated. These employees have to be self-driven and proactive on a daily basis.

With more distractions than ever and the absence of a manager looking over their shoulder, finding ways to reward remote employees is a good way to combat low productivity.

What are remote rewards?

A remote reward is a perk, benefit, or gift given to a team member that is sent and/or received digitally.

Employees who consider themselves remote workers or part of a hybrid working model may not be physically present in an office. This makes rewarding an employee in person challenging.

Remote rewards, therefore, need to be flexible as a person might be working anywhere, anytime, and in any place. Businesses should adopt recognition into their natural flow of work to ensure rewards are part of their culture.

Traditionally, you might reward an employee by giving them praise in person, buying them a gift and giving it to them during a team meeting, or even letting them work from home for the day. These rewards, while still impactful, do not work well when an employee works remotely.

Why should you reward employees?

You might be wondering if employee rewards are worth investing in? The short answer is yes.

According to Reward Gateway, 90 percent of HR workers agreed that an effective recognition and reward program helps drive business results. The return on investment (ROI) makes it worth doing.

10 ways to reward remote employees

Creating a digital business culture remotely is all part of the changing HR world, and remote rewards are just a small part of digital transformation. Try these 10 ways to reward your remote employees as part of your next strategy meeting.

1. Send a physical gift via post.

Starting with the most obvious, you could send an employee a physical gift to their home address. Food and alcohol are among the most popular ideas, but gifts are easy to get wrong. It’s always good to find out from close colleagues about personal preferences and tastes.

Another important consideration is that digital nomads and remote workers might not always be in one place. If they are moving around a lot, posting gifts might be tricky.

2. Offer a software upgrade.

Software is somewhat overlooked when it comes to perks and rewards. Although most companies will provide teams with the software they need, what about the software that is considered “nice to have”?

Premium features and additional tools can help improve an employee’s day-to-day workflow and be a nice reward with lots of upsides.

3. E-vouchers, gift cards, and subscriptions

E-vouchers, gift cards, and subscriptions are an easy way to say thanks to someone digitally. Amazon is a great choice when it comes to gift vouchers, as there is such a broad selection of items an employee can buy.

If your team members know the employee well, they might have a more personal suggestion. Below are some other ideas that are popular among teams:

  • Netflix subscription
  • Starbucks gift card
  • Apple Arcade subscription
  • Google Play gift card
  • Shopping or restaurant vouchers

4. Workspace upgrades

A remote employee will spend most of their day in their workspace environment. Rewarding an employee with a workspace upgrade could be a win-win situation.

You can help members of your team maximize their productivity while also rewarding them for great work.

Typical home workspace upgrades might include:

  • A second monitor
  • Improved hardware (new laptop, computer, mobile, or tablet device)
  • An adjustable standing desk
  • Hardware accessories (headphones, webcam, wireless charging devices)
  • A comfortable computer chair
  • Creative/ fun desk items such as a desk treadmill

Ultimately, it’s best to ask what could be improved about an employee’s current setup and customize it to each individual.

5. A message of appreciation (get creative)

Videos, GIFs, or a simple email are also great ways to reward someone for their efforts. A nod to their achievements and a message of gratitude is too often underrated.

6. Health perks

A gym membership, spa day, personal trainer, or online fitness class are all great health perks that might be a great reward to some employees, particularly those who enjoy regular exercise and fitness regimens. Employee well-being is important, so health rewards are always a good idea.

7. Payroll bonus

Let’s face it. Everybody loves a bonus in the bank account at the end of the quarter. There is certainly nothing wrong with an unexpected, generous payout to show your employees that they are appreciated.

8. Days off, half days, and early finishes

Who doesn’t love a day off or a half-day on Friday? Employees who have worked hard and stood out amongst their peers will appreciate a moment to recharge their batteries. Even an early finish for the week could help.

9. Kudos on LinkedIn

A free and easy way to show appreciation might be to send a thank you via LinkedIn. This is a relatively new feature on LinkedIn for 2021.

Using LinkedIn Kudos is a fun and simple way to share your appreciation with team members in the LinkedIn community. Celebrate every success–big and small–directly on LinkedIn. This also has great brand awareness benefits as you are publicly acknowledging people’s hard work and efforts. Kudos to you.

10. Learning and personal development

Reward remote employees with opportunities for self-improvement; it can be great for teams. It’s a nice way to show you care for someone’s personal development and future by supporting them to upskill and better themselves.

Examples of learning and personal development rewards might include:

  • Online courses such as Udemy
  • An online coach
  • Courses and certifications
  • 1:1 mentorship programs

Snacks Make All the Difference: Why Free Food is a Great Workplace Perk

When it comes to boosting employee morale, finding small ways to make the day a bit more pleasant, fun, and less stressful can go a long way. That’s why office perks are a big deal at today’s top companies—and among the most appetizing are boatloads of free snacks.

Don’t worry—you don’t need to hire a celebrity chef and create gourmet meals on-site. However, stocking a bountiful snack pantry, setting up a coffee bar, or having free lunch Fridays just might feed your employees’ workplace devotion, and end up offering a pretty healthy return on your investment. According to a Glassdoor survey, younger workers aged 18-34 (89 percent) and 35-44 (84 percent) said they actually prefer benefits or perks to pay raises. And of the perks listed, 19 percent mentioned free lunch.

When you consider that only 22 percent of offices provide free snacks and beverages, it’s an easy and fairly low-cost way to stand out from your competitors.

Take a look at a few of the benefits of keeping your staff well-fed to decide if it’s time to get in on the office snacking trend:

Snacks make people happy. Even in companies that have extremely or very satisfied employees, a survey by grocery delivery service Peapod found that the happiness factor goes up when free food is involved-jumping from 56 percent in companies with bare cupboards, to 67 percent at workplaces that supply snacks. Think about organizations that are known for their great employer brands (like Dropbox, Apple, and Google), and you’ll see that fabulous food is a staple of the employee perks menu.

Your staff may be more productive. It’s hard to dispute the fact that hunger tends to creep up throughout the day, especially around 3:00 in a hectic office setting. So, ask yourself-isn’t it better if your employees walk into the kitchen or lounge for a cupful of popcorn or to make a cappuccino, than if they step out and end up taking an extended work break? Why do you think tech start-ups are notorious for having so many perks on-site-it’s to limit the need for their employees to leave the premises. By encouraging people to remain in the building, you’ll limit those 15-minute coffee runs that turn into 45 minutes, or those 30-minute lunches that turn into two hours.

Healthy food can improve moods and keep people energized. You can’t argue with nutritional science. By offering an array of healthy energy-boosting foods, it will help prevent your workers from crashing or fizzling out. Sure, it’s nice to have cupcakes or pizza luncheons from time to time, but for daily offerings, stick with snacks that will invigorate your workers. The American Heart Association actually has a Healthy Workplace Food and Beverage Toolkit that offers smart snack and lunch suggestions for employers to offer. Among the most important tips are to provide clean, cool water, always, and offer healthy treats, like a “Build Your Own Trail Mix” bar, complete with dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and whole grain cereal or granola.

If you’re looking for an easy and affordable way to increase employee satisfaction, consider serving up some free snacks. A giant jar of pretzels or a few bunches of bananas might seem insignificant, but that small gesture can help show your workers that you appreciate them.

This article was first published on Huffington Post.

Employee Benefits in 2016: Perks or Expectations?

Are employee benefits today considered perks, or are they expected? It’s a question many ask these days. Not surprisingly, the history of employee perks involves World War II, the burgeoning tech industry and women. I say not surprisingly because these same key elements like a reduced workforce, new technology and women in the workforce are still driving factors in why many businesses today are upping their game when it comes to employee perks.

But let’s back up a minute. When World War II broke out, Hewlett-Packard’s David Packard, at the request of the War Department, stayed behind to run HP’s test and measurement instrument program. HP ran 24 hours a day, and with the men away at war, Packard quickly learned that he had to trust his female employees to run the company. He also had to accommodate the working moms among them, which included flex-time for sick children, doctor’s appointments, and school runs.

Post-war, the company continued these programs, and added others such as profit-sharing, annual bonuses, stock options, Friday afternoon beer-fests, coffee, fruit and donut breaks every morning and afternoon, and eventually, even camping and picnics at their private company retreat. Fast-forward a few years, and HP was soon boasting record-breaking high levels of employee satisfaction.

Gradually other companies followed suit regarding employee perks as more women entered the workforce, as Millennials took over the business world, as jobs became more and more specialized, and as work-life balance eroded due to our digitally driven work world.

Today’s Top Employee Benefits and Perks

Language morphs and evolves, and today there are blurred lines between terms like “benefits” and “perks.” While there are certain employee benefits most organizations are legally bound to provide, such as social security benefits, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation insurance, today’s employee looks for much more than that.

In fact, according to employment recruiting and review site Glassdoor, “With nearly three in five (57 percent) people reporting benefits and perks being among their top considerations before accepting a job, some employers are raising the bar even higher to help attract talent.”

While health and wellness, financial considerations, and retirement benefits have remained at the top of the list for job searchers, other additions such as family issues and time off show an increased desire to try and reclaim that elusive work-life balance.

The Millennial Impact

Millennials are the largest demographic in the workforce today. They will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, and they want more from work than money. They want to make an impact. Deloitte’s 2015 Millennial Survey shared insights from 7,800 Millennials from 29 different countries, and they were clear: The business world is getting it wrong. Seventy-five percent of respondents felt business could do more to help improve society. Only 28 percent felt their current company makes full use of their skills. For a generation that thrives on mentorship, inclusivity, giving back, and professional growth, those are shockingly sad numbers.

Millennials are also notoriously fickle, and more prone to job-hop than any generation before them. According to a recent Gallup report, “…21 percent of Millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-Millennials who report the same.” Gallup estimates Millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually.

Millennials also show less willingness to stay in their current jobs. Half of Millennials, compared with 60 percent of non-Millennials, strongly agree they plan to be working at their company one year from now. For businesses, this suggests that half of their Millennial workforce doesn’t see a future with them.

In today’s world of work, employee benefits are expected. So, when you’re wondering how to recruit and retain this important cohort think about paid education and training, an active mentorship program, company sanctioned time-off for volunteering or charity work, and opportunities for work-life balance—things like flex-time for family appointments or school meetings, extended parental leave and opportunities for remote work.

Employee Perks: Trends in 2016 and Beyond

Some of the biggest trends in employee benefits and perks revolve around family, especially parental leave and baby bonuses. Netflix caused a ripple through the business world when they announced they were offering employees a year of maternity and paternity leave to new parents. Those same parents are also given the flexibility to return either part-time or full-time, and they can take leave as needed throughout the year. Other companies have taken note, and alongside generous parental leave policies, today you’ll find egg freezing and fertility assistance, counseling for new parents returning to the workforce, lump-sum “baby bonuses” for new parents, even breast-milk delivery services for traveling working moms on employee perks lists.

Another hot new trend is helping new hires pay down their student debt. Student debt load is spiraling out of control. The class of 2015 graduated with an average debt of $35,051, about $2,000 more than their peers in 2014. If you want to stand out from the crowd when it comes to hiring and retaining the best and brightest in your field, consider following in the footsteps of Pricewaterhouse Coopers and other organizations and start working on a student-loan relief repayment benefit as part of your corporate employee perks package.

However, you don’t have to offer pricey perks like three catered daily meals, unlimited paid time-off, on-site dry cleaning, free shuttle buses, gender-reassignment surgery or hefty yearly vacation stipends to recruit and retain the best employees. In fact, many in the start-up space, including DropBox, which drops roughly $25,000 yearly per employee for perks, are scaling back the lavish benefits the tech industry has become known to offer. If you’re a smaller organization, consider less expensive treats like a monthly manicure or massage service, a small health and wellness stipend, or varied start times to help reduce commuting stress.

Consider adopting more flexibility regarding job sharing and remote work. Or incorporate team outings or time for volunteer work into your employees’ schedules. While you don’t have to break the bank with your employee perks and benefits in 2016, you must recognize the employee benefits game has changed. Pivot and incorporate some of these benefits if you haven’t already. Because it’s likely your competition already has.

What do you think? Have employee perks and benefit packages gone too far? Do you have an employee benefits package that’s the envy of your industry?

A version of this was first posted on switchandshift.com

Photo Credit: mehridoyle via Compfight cc

Why Engagement Happens In Employees Hearts, Not Their Minds

Winning Your Employees Over To Stick With The Company Long Term Involves An Array Of Factors—But First Among Those Is Love.

What are the real drivers of human engagement in the workplace?

What are those things that consistently inspire people to fully commit themselves in their jobs and to willingly scale mountains for their bosses and organizations?

For the past two-plus years, I’ve been singularly focused on answering these big questions and to boiling answers down to a true bottom-line. In the service of organizations everywhere, my singular mission has been to identify the few critical leadership practices that affect people so deeply that they become uncommonly loyal, committed, and productive.

And to distill all I’ve discovered down to just one word, what workers across the globe need in order to thrive and exceptionally perform in their jobs is love.

The use of the word “love” is, of course, a huge taboo in the context of business and management. But as you read on, you’ll soon see that the love I’m referring to has nothing to do with romance, sex, or religion. The love I’m speaking of relates to the experience of positive emotions—the foundation of human motivation.

Why We Want More

We’ve long believed that a job and a paycheck provided sufficient motivation for people to remain fully committed at work. But as levels of engagement have fallen abysmally low all over the world, the evidence is irrefutably clear that people today want and need much more in exchange for their dedicated efforts. Here’s how we know:

For nearly three decades, Gallup Research and the Conference Board have been independently monitoring employee satisfaction and engagement in more than 100 countries. The lead scientists at both organizations personally shared with me all of their dominant findings.

I also visited the two organizations consistently recognized for being the best in the world at driving employee engagement. At software analytics firm, SAS, and at Google, I met with the executive leaders who created the enlightened systems that have routinely made their firms extreme outliers in creating workplace happiness–-all the while producing uncommon shareholder returns.

And desiring the broadest possible insight into current views on workplace management, I interviewed the founder of the Great Place To Work Institute, Robert Levering, positive psychology author Shawn Achor, and many leadership luminaries including John Kotter, Ken Blanchard, Spencer Johnson, and Adam Grant.

Drawing upon all I learned, my conclusions as to what will have the greatest impact on reversing our worldwide engagement crisis come down to just a few profoundly important revelations. As you might imagine, many of these directly challenge traditional managerial thinking:

We hear a lot about employee perks and are led to believe the more extravagant they are, the better they are in stimulating performance. With the exception of health care and on-site daycare (which make people feel valued), few other perks significantly influence engagement.

While it used to be that people derived their greatest sense of happiness from time spent with family and hobbies, how satisfied workers feel in their jobs now determines their overall happiness with life. This monumental shift means that job fulfillment has become essential to people everywhere.

The decision to be engaged is made in worker’s hearts—not minds. We now know that feelings and emotions drive human behavior—what people care most about and commit themselves to in their lives. Consequently, how leaders and organizations make people feel in their jobs has the greatest impact on their performance by far.

For centuries, most people went to work to get a paycheck, in order to put a roof over their heads and food on their table. But as a driver of engagement, pay now ranks no higher than fifth in importance to people—in every industrialized country. What truly inspires worker engagement in the 21st century can best be described as “emotional currency.” Here’s what that means:

Having a supervisor that cares about us, our well-being, and personal growth

Without exception, bosses predominantly concerned about their own needs create the lowest levels of employee engagement. Going forward, having an authentic advocacy for the development and success of others should be prerequisite for selection into all leadership roles.

Doing work that we enjoy and have the talents to perform

Selecting people who display passion for the work they’ll be doing is perhaps the most important step toward building a highly engaged team. People can’t ever be fully engaged if their hearts aren’t in the work.

Routinely feeling valued, appreciated, and having a deep belief that the work we do matters

It’s highly destructive to people to have them strive and achieve, and to then have those contributions go unrecognized. Any company focused exclusively on driving profits—without a compelling mission—will inherently neuter engagement.

Having strong bonds with other people on the team, especially with our supervisors.

Feeling connected with and genuinely supported by others at work is a surprisingly significant driver of engagement and loyalty.

Why It All Comes Down To Love

It was Gallup’s CEO, Jim Clifton who first suggested to me that employee engagement is ultimately driven by something deeper:

“I think you’re going to find that what people really are seeking in return for work is love,” he said.

There was no question in my mind that Clifton meant this in the most grown-up, truth-telling kind of way, and I was immediately determined to find the proof.

Fifteen years ago, University of North Carolina psychology professor, Barbara Fredrickson, began a formal study of the science of human emotions. Her conclusion today is that love, as our “supreme emotion,” affects everything human beings “feel, think, do, and become.” But it’s her meaning of love that provides the needed clarity:

“The definition that someone in business needs to understand is the simplest definition to start with,” she told me. “People have emotions that range from unpleasant to pleasant. Positive emotions are on that pleasant side. Historically, we’ve misunderstood love to be one of the positive emotions that range from joy, inspiration, interest, pride, and hope. But love is the feeling of any of those emotions co-experienced with another person or group.”

Fredrickson, who won the American Psychological Association’s Templeton Prize for Positive Psychology, and who is the author of Love 2.0, insists that the human body was designed to thrive on love—to live off of it—and that it changes how the brain works. “Love transforms people into making them more positive, resilient, optimistic, persistent, healthier, and happier,” she says. Conversely, “the body’s biochemistry is very negatively affected when it’s not consistently received.”

In relating her work to how it affects our understanding of employee engagement, Fredrickson explains that no emotion is long-lasting and people need to experience positive emotions frequently for engagement to remain high: “As eating one stalk of broccoli isn’t enough to make us healthy, we need a steady diet of these momentary connections to have an impact. And given that people spend more time at work than anywhere else, their ability to thrive is really dependent on them having these moments on the job.”

When I asked Fredrickson if her research confirms that a person’s engagement at work is both established and sustained by feelings of love, she insisted it’s true. “When people are made to feel cared for, nurtured, and growing, that will serve the organization well. Because those feelings drive commitment and loyalty just like it would in any relationship. If you feel uniquely seen, understood, valued and appreciated, then that will hook you into being committed to that team, leader and organization. This is how positive emotions work.”

So, for any company or leader who dreams of building an exceptionally committed and productive team, I offer you my most informed advice:

“Love your people.”

Image credit : StockSnap.io

A version of this post was first published on FastCompany on 2/5/15.