4 Tips to Drive Appreciation and Connection at Work

April 25, 2022 Sarah Morgan

woman on a zoom call laughingDuring the height of the pandemic, almost two-thirds of workers were completing all or a significant part of their work duties from home, according to a survey from Clutch. As cases dropped and the vaccines were made more readily available, that number is now somewhere around 25-35%, according to Global Workplace Analytics.

A recent survey by Workhuman® indicates that, while employees are appreciative and generally thriving in their hybrid/remote arrangements, the change is not without some drawbacks. Most notable to me were the following:

  • 40% of fully remote workers feel uneasy or hostile about change.
  • More than half of hybrid workers (52%) and nearly half of remote workers (44%) said they feel obligated to work while sick when they’re working remotely.
  • 66% of workers say they would appreciate more opportunities to celebrate personal life events at work.
  • Hybrid workers feel the most appreciated but also the most overworked compared to their fully remote and fully in-person counterparts.

All of this leads to employees feeling under-acknowledged and unappreciated at work – which is likely what has 36% of respondents reporting they will be looking to make a job change this year.

To mitigate this disruption, employers have to step it up! We have to embrace the reality that hybrid and remote work are now a permanent part of how we work. We have to be intentional about building practices and creating experiences that make our employees feel supported and secure, no matter where they are completing their work.

Here are four simple things employers can do to cultivate more appreciation and connection with their employees no matter where they work:

1. Create company connection moments

Most organizations put a lot of effort into the moments that welcome new hires to the organization – and this is a great and very necessary practice! But what about all the other times? When an employee is promoted. When they reach an anniversary. When they return from leave after sickness or bereavement. When they add a child or pet to their family. When they buy or sell a house. When they finish a certificate or degree program. These are all moments worthy of acknowledgement and celebration that can create connection with employees no matter their work arrangements. Look for ways to collect this kind of info from your employees and to connect meaningfully with them when one of these events occurs.

2. Gamify and incentivize appreciation and connection

Studies have shown over and over again that there is no such thing as too much recognition at work. Employees want to hear from their boss and co-workers the gratitude, inspiration, respect, etc. felt because of that employee’s efforts. So create opportunities for authentic acknowledgement of your employees’ accomplishments that can result in winning feelings for all. Get in the habit of celebrating those who consistently celebrate others so that everyone in your organization knows how much gratitude and support matters in your culture.

3. Allow self-scheduling

While it is important for businesses to have operating hours for their clients and customers, it is equally important for those hours to reflect the commitment to flexibility and work-life integration for the company’s workforce. Self-scheduling is a practice to help get there. With self-scheduling, the business publishes its operating hours and ideal staffing levels to the employees – then the employees select working times that are best for them within those slots. If coverage on a specific day or time is insufficient for operations, the business will request additional volunteers and sometimes incentivize working undesirable hours with pay differentials, bonuses, future scheduling accommodation commitments, or future paid time off.

This allows the employee to work during the times that are ideal for them and gives them opportunity for both favor and financial gain by choosing to work times that are not as convenient for them, but helpful to their employer.

4. Enforce respect for wellness and boundaries

When someone is sick, they must step away from work to rest and heal. When someone travels on a red eye flight or works late to finish their part of a project, they must have time to rest and recover. When someone has a doctor’s appointment or a family event, they must be able to leave work in time to arrive safely and timely. When someone hasn’t had a day off in several months, they must take a break. These are just some examples of how companies can support the total well-being of their employees.

Working from home is not a privilege that should equate to continuing to work when you’re not feeling physically or mentally well. Working from an office is not a punishment that should equate to ignoring your medical needs and family obligations. No matter the work arrangement, all employees should be encouraged and supported in having time for rest, recovery, and rejoicing, whatever that looks like for them. Employers need to enforce this with the same enthusiasm as any other policy or guideline.

Hate it or love it – remote and hybrid work are here to stay! Finding innovative ways to ensure employees continue to feel engaged, connected, and supported no matter where they are working is the key for employers to keep their talent in place and their business thriving and growing.

About the Author

Sarah Morgan

Sarah Morgan is the Founder and Chief Excellence Officer at BuzzARooney LLC, a management consulting firm.

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