5 Strategies to Make Employees Feel Valued During Periods of Disruption

 In a recent survey of 2,000 working adults, financial services company Canada Life found that 46% of employees now working from home feel more pressure to be present. 

This partially stems from a lack of visibility, with 24% admitting they feel the need to prove they are working every day. Since it’s harder to demonstrate value or productivity when working remotely, many employees are pushing themselves harder than ever. The survey revealed that more than one in three (35%) have continued to work while ill, and nearly one in five (18%) are working longer hours. What’s more, 15% say they are taking fewer breaks and 12% have stopped taking breaks altogether.  

During a period when employees may already be dealing with higher stress levels, more anxiety, and greater emotional exhaustion, this added pressure to be seen working hard could impair their mental health and morale. In turn, this may hurt productivity and engagement — making people feel even more anxious about how their work will be perceived.  

By showing gratitude and recognizing efforts big and small, managers can lift their teams’ spirits and help put employees’ minds at ease. Here are five simple yet meaningful ways companies are ensuring their people feel valued right now. 

1. MonoSol bought its team lunch to say thank you and to support local restaurants 

Taking employees out to a restaurant might not be possible right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy them lunch. MonoSol, a manufacturer of water-soluble films, is thanking its 750 employees by allowing them to order their favorite takeout.

Called the “Takeout Takeover,” the appreciation program allows MonoSol employees across the U.S., Europe, and Asia to order a meal valued up to $70 from select restaurants. The company will also pay a 25% gratuity to the chosen restaurant partner.

“We want to say ‘thank you’ to our people for how hard they’ve been working to stay safe and healthy,” says MonoSol’s CEO Scott Bening, “while also supporting other local business owners who need the help right now.”

2. Dechert encourages managers to send electronic thank-you cards to team members

Getting a pat on the back from a manager can be energizing. But because in-person interactions might not be possible for the foreseeable future, Dechert, a global law firm, created personalized e-cards that managers can send to team members instead. 

While the cards were created for the firm’s annual “Gratitude Week,” in which all employees are recognized for their efforts, the cards are still available to managers who want to send one — and they’re still being used. According to Jessica Vanto, Dechert’s global director of professional development, this approach is beneficial to both employees and managers.

“Giving thanks is a powerful thing,” she says. “When someone says ‘thank you’ to you, it can make your day.” But researchers have found that giving thanks is just as important as receiving them: When you thank others, your mood lifts, you feel more optimistic, your day is just better.

3. International SOS gave employees a shout-out in a company-wide newsletter

A public shout-out is an unequivocal way to say thanks. While some companies have started giving these out during virtual all-hands meetings, International SOS, a medical and travel security services firm, amplified this concept by creating an eight-page digital newsletter to recognize and celebrate its people. 

Sent out to the entire 1,100-person workforce, the newsletter featured a video interview in which the regional managing director thanked employees for their efforts. Local managers also praised team members who had gone above and beyond. 

“It was well-received,” says HR director Michael Whitlow. “As many people were opening the last page as there were opening the first, which shows a level of engagement and interest in what we’re putting out there.”

International SOS has also continued running its peer-to-peer recognition program, with recipients receiving a gift voucher and a tree planted on their behalf. The newsletter was another way to foster a culture of recognition, allowing people to read about the significant achievements of their coworkers. 

4. Colt Technology Services created a Hero Award to recognize employees working onsite

While many people are working remotely right now, that isn’t possible for every role. To champion employees going beyond what would typically be expected of them, including those currently working on-site and helping to prepare the offices for others to return, Colt Technology Services, a network and voice connectivity company, created the Pandemic Hero Award

Since the company already worked with reward and recognition provider Xexec, recipients of the award get £275 (about US$360) added to their recognition account. They also receive an engraved paperweight. 

So far, about 300 Colt employees have received the Pandemic Hero Award for discretionary effort.

5. Bonjoro rewarded employees with a streaming service subscription to help them unwind

Giving employees a small token of thanks, like a gift voucher or bottle of wine, is an easy way to show them that their efforts have been noticed and appreciated. Bonjoro, an Australian company that helps businesses create personal video messages for customers, recently took this approach a step further by giving employees a subscription to a streaming service. 

“One thing we did as a company to show appreciation was to provide a paid subscription to a streaming platform of their choice, like Calm, Disney+, or Netflix,” says Casey Hill, Bonjoro’s head of growth. “We know these are stressful times, and we want to show our team that we value their mental health and relaxation time outside of work too.”

This approach uses a person’s email address, so no delivery is required. And by providing a means for employees to decompress after work, companies can promote a healthier work-life balance and help reduce their teams’ stress. 

Final thoughts

While managers and leaders have a lot on their minds right now, ensuring employees feel seen and appreciated should be a top priority. 

Reminding your people to take time for themselves — and leading by example — can help combat overworking, and recurrent recognition can also quell the need some employees feel to push themselves too hard. Even a seemingly small gesture of thanks can make a difference to someone who is stressed or anxious, so take every opportunity to show employees they are valued.

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