Every month, we’re highlighting stories, trends and tips related to employee engagement and workplace culture that organizations should be keeping top-of-mind in order to engage, retain and recruit top talent.

As we continue to face the unprecedented COVID-19 situation, employees world-wide are having to navigate a “new normal” in order to get their jobs done. Between learning how to work from home, implementing new safety precautions, managing family needs and more, it’s a tough time for everyone – which is why it’s more important than ever for companies to show their appreciation for their employees.

Even in the best of times, employee recognition is an important element in engagement and company culture. According to Gallup, employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely as those who do to say they’ll quit in the next year. Additionally, a LinkedIn study showed that nearly 70% of employees said they would work harder if their efforts were better recognized. Showing appreciation for employees on a regular basis boosts morale, encourages people to go the extra mile, and increases retention. So, during tough times like this, it’s even more critical for companies to make sure they’re recognizing their employees’ above-and-beyond efforts and ongoing commitment to the company.

While many think of recognition in terms of a monetary reward, there are plenty of cost-effective and creative ways to thank employees during financially difficult times as well. Below are some best practices and thought starters to help you show appreciation for your employees.

  • Tailor recognition to the individual – When it comes to recognition, one size does not fit all. For example, while some employees may prefer to be recognized publicly in a company-wide email or with a shout out during a team meeting, others may not like the attention and would prefer to be recognized privately, such as a personal note from their leader or CEO. Consider the employee’s personality, age and career stage when choosing a recognition method and any associated reward.
  • Allow peer to peer recognition – Many employees seek recognition from leaders or managers, but they also find equal if not more value in being recognized by their peers. Encourage employees to find ways to show their appreciation for their colleagues in formal and informal ways. For example, designate a place – either in-person or virtual, depending on where people are right now – where employees can leave notes of appreciation for their colleagues.
  • Vary the approach – According to research by Deloitte, there are two types of recognition: praise and emblematic recognition, and token and monetary rewards. The study found that both types are important to employees. During this time when larger monetary awards may not be doable, consider smaller ones, such as extra time-off to be used at a future date, free breakfast or lunch for those still coming into work, gift cards to local restaurants offering take out or company-branded gear.
  • Recognize in real-time – While formal recognition programs like annual employee awards are valuable, recognition shouldn’t happen once a year. Encourage employees to recognize their direct reports and peers in impromptu ways. With many working from home, leaders could start their virtual meetings by sharing examples from that week of employees doing great things for the company or each other. In addition to regular meetings, encourage teams to set up impromptu virtual celebrations where anyone can voice their appreciation for each other. These virtual get togethers can help foster connectivity at a time when people need it most.

How is your company handling this situation and making sure employees feel appreciated? For questions, guidance or support with your efforts, Padilla’s Coronavirus Response Team is here to help.