9 minutes reading time
MAY 2 2023

10 Meaningful Ways to Show Appreciation For Your Virtual Team

Companies that make employee recognition a priority have workers who are 56% less likely to be looking for a new job, according to a 2022 survey. Ensuring your employees remain recognized for their great work can be such an easy win, but so many companies don’t prioritize this area.

In a September 2021 Gartner poll of executive leaders, 60% described themselves as significantly concerned about employee turnover. Employee turnover can be a huge expense, with the cost of recruiting, training, and lost time making a big dent in the annual budget.

That’s why it’s so important to make sure your employees know how much you appreciate them and how valuable they are to your team. Given the increase in hybrid working arrangements, chances to say a quick “thank you” over the desk have become increasingly rare. But how can you make sure you still make time to recognize your co-workers virtually?

A thank you letter with flowers next to it.

Top tips to show appreciation to your virtual team

Need some pointers on how to encourage a great recognition culture? Read our top tips listed below:

1 – Give them time in lieu

There are always “pinch points” during the year when there are more tasks to finish. That often means you and your co-workers have to give extra effort or work a little longer to get things over the line.

Giving your team members a full day or an afternoon off is a great way to make sure they don’t get burned out, but also a great way of showing that you recognize they’ve gone the extra mile. Even half an hour away from the screen to listen to their favorite audiobook can go a long way.

They’ll return from their time off feeling refreshed and reinvigorated after putting some long hours in, making them more ready to smash their next project.

2 – Give them the tools to thrive

A great way to recognize your team members is to acknowledge how to make their life easier. Often, ensuring they have the right tools they need for the job can be a huge help. Try setting up a call with your team to understand the pain points of the current software they’re using and make a plan to get them what they need.

Making sure your team is well-equipped gives them the ability to excel, increasing their chances of being recognized in the first place! Moreover, providing social responsibility tools can help your team give back to the community, which can boost team morale and positively impact your company's reputation.

For example, distractions such as answering the door are commonplace when working from home. Setting up a call transfer feature will allow your customers and clients to get the support they need quicker while giving more people in your team the opportunity to shine.

With so many tech solutions being introduced into one company, navigating them all can make some processes clunky and time-consuming. A great solution could be to utilize monday.com integrations to customize your teams’ workflows. This will help boost their alignment and efficiency, and hopefully, stop any notions of “we prefer when we do things the old way”.

3 – Send them an unexpected gift

There’s nothing like getting a card or some chocolates through the door to give someone a little lift. A simple “thank you” often goes a long way.

Several third-party providers offer services where you can easily send flowers, cards, digital gift cards, and other perks to anyone who deserves them. These all-in-one system packages allow you to send something to your teammate’s address in no time or let the colleague cash in the points in the way they see fit.

To encourage a wider recognition culture, give your full team access to the system to send gifts to others, too. Just remember to set a budget and keep track of the expenses of each employee—a payroll system like Paylocity can help keep you organized.

Open present with a thank you note in it.

4 – Get into a good shout-out rhythm

Weekly team-wide meetings are the perfect place to let everyone know who’s been smashing it, and how. It’s also a great way of making sure the virtual meeting stays fun and interactive.

Making a habit of shouting out the great work of your colleagues is a fantastic way of motivating your team to go above and beyond. But be wary of shouting out everyone and everything. The point of recognition is that it’s a “special mention”, not an update of what everyone is doing.

5 – Recognize upwards and downwards

Recognition often acts as a warm and fuzzy waterfall. You should be receiving recognition from your manager, and giving recognition to your direct reports. But it doesn’t always have to work that way.

Effective communication is critical to maintaining a positive workplace environment and ensuring that employees feel valued. One of the best ways to show appreciation is to establish clear channels of communication and encourage regular feedback from your team. This will help you identify areas where your team members are excelling and give you the opportunity to recognize them for their hard work.

It can be extremely rewarding for a direct report to also get some appreciation from your senior leaders—just ask them if they can join your virtual weekly meeting to give a shout-out. This shows that not only do you care about their great efforts, but you care so much that you’re willing to tell your manager about how much of a great job they’re doing.

Additionally, your kind words and acts don’t always need to go down the way. If your manager is doing something great, make sure to give them kudos, too!

6 – Support their personal development virtually

In ancient times, when attending the office was the only option, it was easier to make connections outside your team. Water cooler conversations led to chats about what was happening in different teams, and about skills and development opportunities. We all want to hang on to our best direct reports. But we also know we have to also nurture them until one day they fly the nest for their next big opportunity.

Taking the time to ensure they have everything that they need to do that from home is a great way of showing that you recognize the effort they’re putting in and that you want to actively help get them to the next level. You could try introducing them to managers from other teams to see if they can gain new skills and learn about other business areas.

Sometimes, people might even want to take their development offline. Giving them specific time in their diary to leave the desk and read industry papers or the best product management books is a surefire way for colleagues to know you appreciate their efforts, but also more importantly, their future wants and needs.

Point of view of someone reading a book.

7 – Pay attention to the little (or big!) things

Listening to your colleagues talk about what is going on in their home lives and acting on it can be a great way of showing you value them. You might not even need to listen, now that home video conferencing gives us all a window into peoples’ home lives.

Take note of any big life events your team members are talking about—think family birthdays, big weddings, and moving house—a going away gift for a relocating colleague is a must. You might be able to offer to move some work around or give them an hour off to help them thrive at that moment.

These times in your colleagues' lives can have a big impact, and even just remembering to have a conversation about it can demonstrate that you have a lot of time for them.

8 – Help them create a winning office space

Your colleagues might not be aware of the policies, but you should definitely take the time to make sure they know what home office equipment is available to them. Giving them access to a better chair or a swanky phone system with a call waiting feature ensures they’re in the best position to excel. Setting them up for success is a great way of showing that you want them to be able to put their best foot forward.

9 – Plan a virtual recognition event

What better way to show meaningful appreciation than to dedicate a whole wad of time celebrating your team’s successes?

Making it fairly informal can be a really fun way of letting your team know their value. 4pm on a Friday works really well for letting everyone get hyped about themselves before heading into a weekend. This can become a regular quarterly event that everyone looks forward to, helping to break down barriers, and support remote collaboration.

You can level up your recognition event by giving everyone a budget to spend on a takeaway dinner or a bottle of wine. Medium steak and a full-bodied red for me please!

Picture of a woman in home office, eating noodles.

10 – Prioritize wellness

An employee wellness program demonstrates to your team that you're serious about their health, both inside and outside the office.

A good wellness program should provide access to mental health resources (which may include access to counseling itself) as well as perks that make it easier for your colleagues to stay fit and healthy, like a discounted gym membership.

Having virtual 1-to-1s means that you lose a lot of a person’s body language, so if someone is struggling with their workload or their home life, it might be more difficult to pick up on. It’s essential, therefore, that you get to grips with different communication styles and how your team might be asking you for help in different ways.

Recognizing and rewarding the great work of your virtual team is a crucial aspect of talent management, and implementing these top tips will help to create a positive recognition culture.

Congratulations - you just got a super-engaged team

Employee engagement and recognition go hand in hand. Employees are 2.7 times more likely to be highly engaged if they believe they will be recognized for their contribution.

By putting some (or all—keen beans) of the tips above into practice, you’re on the road to creating a motivating and rewarding culture within your team. The work ethic will thrive, and as a result, so will the quality of the team’s output.

Grace Lau
Written by Grace Lau