After over a year of challenges, disruptions, and change, many companies are entering the second half of 2021 with optimism and hope.
But moving forward from a pandemic isn’t without complications. Many site-dependent employees are worn out from having their temperatures taken and spending months working in face masks while socially distanced. Newly remote employees are burned out from months of isolation and endless Zoom meetings. Some may be coming back to the office with trepidation as they navigate a new workplace that looks very different than the one they left. Others may be pondering a job or career change. And companies are still uncertain how they will handle continued social distancing at work or a new hybrid workplace that allows for more remote work opportunities (where proven productive).
As we emerge from a season of workplace culture disruption, it’s time for organizations to refresh workplace culture and get their people excited about working together again—to invite them to reunite and create a bright new future. Whether you’re bringing people back into the office, embracing remote work for the long term, helping on-site workers welcome friends back to the office, or doing a bit of all three, here are some tips on how to reboot your corporate culture and re-energize your people as we enter a new era of work.
Organizations that thrived during the pandemic kept their employees connected to a meaningful purpose, accomplishment, and one another. Even with these efforts, connection is still what employees look forward to most about returning to the workplace.
Employee recognition is the ultimate connector, and that is even more true during times of crisis. In fact, when employees were recognized during the pandemic they were 103% more likely to feel supported by the organization and 47% less likely to be fearful about Covid in the workplace. Recognition shows how employees’ individual work matters, how they uniquely contribute, and helps them feel they belong.
Recognition lifts culture: Employees feel more connected to the essential elements of workplace culture (Talent MagnetsTM ) when recognition happens.
INFLUENCE OF RECOGNITION ON THE TALENT MAGNET INDICES
RAW INCREASE ON A 0-100 POINT SCALE
Recognition tools like O.C. Tanner’s Culture Cloud provide a quick, easy, and cost-effective way to help employees feel valued, connected, and part of your organization, no matter where they are working from. And there is no better time than now to thank all of your people for the hard work and extra effort they’ve put in to keep your organization going through a year of disruption.
1. Celebrate the return to togetherness.
What better way to welcome employees back to the office (or adjust to a new normal at work) in a positive, memorable way, than by sending a little appreciation? An ecard with points or welcome gift can create an uplifting employee experience, set a positive tone, and show employees you are grateful to have everyone back together.
2. Give points to encourage vaccinations.
Companies, particularly ones who are customer facing, are giving out points in their existing recognition programs to employees who get vaccinated. One travel organization is giving their employees $50 worth of points and paid time off to get vaccinated. While vaccination is a personal choice, recognition is a way to encourage employees to keep themselves and their colleagues safe.
3. Recognize safe practices.
In this new workplace there is a higher awareness of health and wellbeing. Show employees you care and want to create a safe workplace by encouraging and recognizing safe behaviors. Show appreciation when employees call out something unsafe in the workplace, practice proper social distancing, or innovate that make the workplace safer. Shift the focus from infection to inspiration.
BASF shifted their recognition efforts during the pandemic to recognize not just metrics, but also extra effort and new behaviors that employees were exhibiting as their work environment changed. They began recognizing employees who were resourceful and creative, collaborative, and supported team members in staying safe. It helped leaders and employees stay connected to one another while empowering teams to do their best work.
4. Give recognition to establish goals and reinforce values.
Things have changed a lot since March of 2020. In addition to remote work and social distancing, you may have taken this opportunity to change a few things in your organization. Perhaps you’ve introduced new company goals for 2021, or created a new set of values, or even adopted a new purpose. Recognition is a great way to reinforce behaviors that align to your new corporate focus.
5. Encourage appreciation to help teams reconnect.
Whether in the office or remote forever, employees want to feel connected to their colleagues. Peer-to-peer recognition can foster that connection, even if employees are in different departments or countries, especially if your recognition solution has a social wall like O.C. Tanner’s Culture Cloud.
Ocwen, a global mortgage broker, recognized their IT teams with a certificate signed by executives and a substantial amount of points for helping employees successfully pivot to remote work while also maintaining high operations and customer service levels during the pandemic. Peers were able to join in the appreciation by expressing their gratitude and leaving comments on their recognition platform’s Wall of Fame.
6. Celebrate corporate milestones and success together.
Company anniversaries, new product launches, or hitting a new sales goal—whatever the accomplishment it is, nothing brings people together better than celebrating together with meaningful gifts. Use this year to recognize and appreciate your employees for everything they’ve done to help you achieve success in spite of some very difficult times.
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