Using Employee Recognition to Unite Teams Across Offices and Time Zones
February 12, 2024
February 12, 2024
Employee recognition is challenging enough when it’s local. Introduce the complexities of recognizing employees in different offices or scattered in time zones around the globe, and it can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.
No matter where your people work, an employee recognition program that scales globally will help them feel connected. Here are some ways to recognize employees across various offices so everyone feels like part of the same team.
Purpose is your organization’s reason for being. Employees innately desire to connect to something bigger, something more important than themselves. Most don’t come to work just for a paycheck. They don’t work passionately towards a goal that is only about profit maximization. They come to make an impact, help others, and leave a positive mark on the world.
The Harvard Business Review reports that employees are “more engaged, innovative, and productive” when they feel a sense of purpose in their work.
But it’s not enough to just have a meaningful purpose. Employees must know what the purpose is, feel connected to it, and understand how their specific work and role contributes to that purpose—how they are individually making a difference. Recognition provides a wonderful opportunity to unify your teams around a shared purpose.
1. Connect employees to purpose
Create concise, easy-to-follow employee value propositions and customer value propositions that are aligned with and fulfill your purpose. Employees want to feel strongly connected to their customers. They want to see that their work makes a difference for someone in a meaningful way.
2. Communicate your purpose clearly and often
It’s easier for employees to connect to your purpose when they experience it. Employees need to see and hear about your purpose often—during onboarding, in newsletters, town hall meetings, posters, emails, intranet, and from leaders.
These communications become cultural focus points and opportunities for storytelling that reinforce your organization’s reason for being. They also allow your purpose to be organically adopted by your employees, rather than just being pushed out by the company.
3. Tie recognition to purpose
Your purpose should relate to your values, and your values should influence the employee behaviors and actions you recognize. When employee recognition is tied to purpose, employees are continually reminded that they’re contributing to something bigger than themselves. Their work becomes more than just a job.
People also feel more connected to one another and the organization when they are working towards one shared purpose together. Recognition demonstrates to each employee how they’ve contributed to the team and made a tangible difference for the organization and its customers.
When recognition is integrated, it happens frequently for a variety of accomplishments, large and small, and comes from both leaders and peers. It’s personalized for the individual, seen across the organization, and the programs and tools to give it are updated often.
Here are a few ways you can make sure your employee recognition platform is fully integrated into your employee experience:
1. Define core values and behaviors
Start by defining the core values and behaviors that represent your company culture. Ensure that these values align with your mission and vision. Recognition should reinforce and celebrate actions and behaviors that reflect these values.
2. Leadership commitment
Gain commitment and active participation from top leadership. When leaders consistently prioritize and demonstrate recognition, it sets the tone for the entire organization.
3. Inclusive approach
Design recognition programs that are inclusive and accessible to all employees, regardless of their role, level, or location. Ensure that recognition is tailored to different personalities and preferences.
4. Multichannel recognition
Establish various channels for recognition, including both formal and informal methods. This could include regular team meetings, online platforms, social media, and physical bulletin boards.
Uniting teams across multiple offices, or even a global workforce, requires effective communication. For companies with international operations or remote teams in different regions, multilingual communication is crucial.
Forbes reports that “having a multilingual workforce has become a critical success factor” in global business. You’ll want to make sure your recognition program accommodates this diverse workforce. This means maintaining consistent recognition practices across the organization while considering language and cultural differences.
Multilingual communication can involve various channels such as emails, company intranet, newsletters, and social platforms. Offering recognition messages in multiple languages through these channels ensures that the messages reach a wider audience and are easily accessible to everyone.
Local partnerships create a more holistic and personalized recognition program that aligns with your teams’ local culture, values, and preferences. When you’re stocking your online award store, make sure to include items from local businesses to provide experiences that spotlight the different communities where your employees live. Think gift cards for local dining and entertainment venues.
Here's how local partnerships can help employees feel valued:
1. Cultural relevance
Local partnerships allow organizations to tailor their recognition efforts to the specific cultural norms and practices of the region. This ensures that recognition initiatives are meaningful and resonate with employees, fostering a sense of belonging and appreciation.
Local partnerships enable organizations to offer a diverse range of recognition options, from traditional rewards to experiences that are relevant and attractive to employees in that locality. This personalization increases the perceived value of recognition and makes employees feel truly acknowledged.
3. Reward variety
Partnering with local businesses can provide access to a wide range of rewards, such as gift cards to local restaurants, stores, or entertainment venues. This variety keeps recognition exciting and allows employees to choose rewards that match their interests.
4. Community engagement
Local partnerships often involve engaging with the community. This can include joint volunteer opportunities, charity events, or local initiatives that not only promote employee recognition but also contribute positively to the local area, enhancing the organization's reputation.
Local partnerships promote inclusivity by involving employees from various backgrounds and experiences. This fosters a sense of unity and understanding among a diverse workforce.
Provide training to managers and team leaders on the importance of recognition and how to effectively acknowledge and appreciate their team members. This not only ensures consistency in recognition practices throughout the organization—it also taps into the potential of your recognition program to amplify your company culture and values.
When leaders are equipped with the skills to effectively recognize their team members, it can lead to increased employee engagement, morale, and overall job satisfaction. And this recognition can help employees across different offices feel connected, like they are part of the same team. Here are a few reasons why training leaders in different parts of the world is so important:
1. Understanding the importance of recognition
Through training, leaders learn about the significance of employee recognition in boosting motivation, productivity, and loyalty. They understand how recognition contributes to a positive workplace culture and aligns with organizational goals.
2. Effective communication skills
Leaders learn how to communicate appreciation and recognition in a clear and genuine manner. They develop skills to give specific and meaningful feedback that highlights an employee's contributions and accomplishments. This helps them to understand the employee experience and to recognize more effectively.
3. Tailored approaches
Leaders are trained to recognize that each employee is unique, with distinct preferences and motivators. They learn to tailor their recognition efforts to match individual needs and preferences. Team members feel seen when their recognition preferences are acknowledged and observed.
4. Leading by example
When leaders consistently practice recognition, it sets a positive example for the entire team. Through training, leaders understand that their behavior directly influences the work culture and employee attitudes toward recognition.
5. Adapting to change
In a dynamic work environment, leaders learn to adapt their recognition techniques as circumstances evolve. Training helps them stay flexible and creative in their approaches.
With a thoughtful and inclusive approach, you can create a recognition program that resonates across different regions and offices. As your company grows, you don’t want employees to feel left behind or invisible. Recognition that is personalized to individual employees helps them feel seen and valued for their specific contributions in a large company.
Here's how to personalize employee recognition across a large or global company:
1. Cultural sensitivity and awareness
Consider local holidays, traditions, and values when planning recognition initiatives to ensure they align with cultural expectations. Get to know and understand what people value in different regions and cultures around the world.
2. Flexible recognition options
Offer a variety of recognition options to accommodate different cultural preferences. This could include monetary rewards, gifts, experiences, and time off. Allow employees to choose from a selection of rewards to ensure they receive something meaningful to them.
3. Localized communication
Translate recognition materials, messages, and platforms into different languages to ensure all employees can understand and participate. Use local communication channels, such as newsletters or intranets, to share recognition stories and updates.
The strongest recognition is holistic, meaningful, and frequent. What is holistic recognition? It’s recognition that is incorporated into all the stages of the employee lifecycle, is communicated in lots of different ways, and that is accessible and available to everyone.
Recognition should be given by, and to, both leaders and peers across the organization. Reasons for recognition can range from everyday effort to above-and-beyond work to major achievements and career milestones. And when it comes to ways to recognize, organizations should give employees a wide selection of methods and tools for recognizing, as well as access and the authority to use them.
Holistic recognition includes monetary and non-monetary options, formal and informal recognition, and personalized messages of appreciation and group celebrations. With this approach, employees experience recognition as a consistent part of the broader company culture, regardless of their location.
The larger a company gets the bigger the danger that recognition becomes too generic and impersonal. Specific rewards play a crucial role in enhancing employee recognition at a global company by tailoring recognition efforts to the preferences and cultural context of employees in different regions. Specific rewards are more memorable and meaningful.
When rewards are thoughtfully chosen, they can increase the impact of recognition and create a more meaningful and inclusive experience.
Here's how specific rewards can help employee recognition in a global company:
1. Cultural relevance
Different cultures have varying norms and preferences when it comes to rewards. Specific rewards allow you to offer options that are culturally appropriate and resonate with employees in each region. This ensures that the recognition feels genuine and meaningful.
Offering specific rewards enables a personalized approach to recognition. Employees feel valued when they receive rewards that align with their interests, hobbies, or needs—this enhances the emotional impact of the recognition.
3. Choice and flexibility
Different employees have different preferences when it comes to rewards. By offering a range of specific options, you empower employees to choose rewards that best match their desires. This power of choice goes a long way toward ensuring higher satisfaction.
4. Global consistency
While specific rewards are tailored to local preferences, having a set of globally consistent options can still ensure a cohesive recognition program across the company. This balance ensures both customization and unity.
5. Experiential rewards
Experiences such as team outings, spa days, or adventure activities can be universal and appealing across cultures. They offer memorable and enjoyable rewards that can be appreciated by employees worldwide.
6. Long-term impact
Specific rewards can include opportunities for skill development, mentoring, or career advancement. Such rewards have a lasting impact on an employee's professional growth.
Using one-to-one meetings to appreciate employees can be an effective way to provide personalized and meaningful recognition across different regions. Face to face conversations can lead to better interactions and more productive discussions that build trust in a work community. These meetings also help drive connection.
Here's how you can incorporate employee recognition into one-to-one meetings around the globe:
1. Schedule regular one-to-one meetings
Establish a consistent schedule for one-to-one meetings with your team members in different regions. This could be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, depending on your team's needs and preferences.
2. Start with appreciation
Begin each one-to-one meeting with a genuine expression of appreciation. Acknowledge the employee's recent achievements, contributions, or efforts. Be specific about what you're recognizing.
3. Ask for feedback
During the meeting, ask the employee for feedback on their own performance, their experience within the team, and their thoughts on the company's culture. This shows that you value their perspective and input.
4. Connect recognition to development
Link recognition to the employee's growth and development. Discuss how their achievements align with their career aspirations and how the company supports their professional journey.
5. Global perspective
If you have insights or updates from other regions, share stories of successes or collaborative efforts happening elsewhere in the company. This helps employees feel connected to the broader organization.
6. Empowerment and ownership
Empower employees to suggest ways they would like to be recognized or areas where they seek personal and professional growth. This gives them a sense of ownership in their recognition journey.
When Dow Chemical needed to revitalize their recognition program, they landed on a global strategy with local implementation.
Dow used recognition to build a workplace culture known for attracting and retaining the best talent in the world. In an ever-evolving and competitive landscape, Dow continues to win the loyalty of their employees across the globe.
Dow’s previous recognition program had no long-term strategy. It became stagnant and went largely unused by employees.
Dow worked with O.C. Tanner to create customized strategies that would thrive in local cultures around the globe but still be a part of one cohesive Dow recognition platform. By utilizing companywide surveys and adjusting their program accordingly, they saw program registered users increase from 60% to 84% in one year. In 2015 alone, there was a recognition moment every 3 minutes. And, the amount of employees engaged in their formal recognition program, Accelerate Great, increased 11% from 2014 to 2015 taking the global average to 84%.
According to Dow, once they understood their employees’ needs at a more human level, they were able to not only recognize, but recognize with purpose. By successfully understanding how to connect the head and the heart of their employees around the world they became a leading figure in the corporate culture arena.
The culture at Dow, when described by their own employees, is a culture of openness, innovation, diversity, team spirit, and growth. By focusing on the feedback they heard from their employees, they made the appropriate changes to their recognition program companywide. Once their new program was implemented, they sustained its progress by continually appreciating great work, great employees, and recognizing when something great was achieved within their company.
As our world becomes more diverse and interconnected, the need to intentionally create a sense of belonging, appreciation, and shared purpose is more important than ever. Employee recognition is so much more than feel-good gestures. The ability to appreciate and celebrate the contributions of employees from different regions becomes a competitive advantage. It's a way to honor the diverse skills, experiences, and perspectives that employees bring to the table.
Ready to design the perfect recognition program for your team? See how Culture Cloud can help.