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Building Inclusion for a Dispersed Workforce

working parentHow we define a workplace has changed drastically over the past two years.

Even industries that need workers to be on-site, such as retail, manufacturing, hospitality, and healthcare, now incorporate many elements of a hybrid work environment, where work increasingly includes a remote component. In fact, according to recent research in our Two Years Into COVID: The State of Human Connection at Work report, most industries have at least 25% of their workforce doing remote work – with industries such as software and services seeing as much as 77% of their workforce distributed at home.

This kind of seismic shift has had profound consequences for how we nurture and create culture,  and how we ensure employees feel included and appreciated, no matter where they are doing their work.

It’s been a tough adjustment for many companies. According to our research, 39% of hybrid workers and 29% of fully remote workers agree with the following statement: “When I work from home, I don’t receive as much recognition as my on-site colleagues.” Likewise, fully remote workers were more likely to say they felt uneasy and less confident about change than their on-site coworkers.

Here are some tips for reengaging team members, no matter where they are located:

Encourage emotional connection through recognition.

Recognizing people for a job well done is a powerful way to make everyone feel included in your culture and essential to their workgroup. In fact, our Two Years Into COVID report found that people who’ve never been thanked at work are 2x as likely to be looking for a job. Building strong peer-to-peer relationships through recognition will help to bolster their feelings of inclusion, no matter where they work.

Leverage technology’s power to connect.

Witnessing public recognition is directly associated with lower levels of burnout and stress. In 2022, we have considerable tools at our disposal to share recognition, reduce stress, and reinforce our sense of inclusion. Using Slack and Teams integrations, RSS/API feeds, and even low-key communications channels like screen savers, you can elevate recognition into employee workflows and keep recognition top of mind. A flow of positive news in the form of shared recognition moments not only extends the power of each award, but it also helps to extend that positivity beyond the physical walls of your workplace.

Notice and commemorate personal milestones.

Marking employees’ personal milestones is an important way of signaling that they are noticed, and out of sight does not mean out of mind. Remote workers employed at companies that commemorate life events – such as birthdays, a new child, a new home, an educational degree, or other personal milestones – say they feel more respected (78% vs. 58%) and appreciated (75% vs. 44%) than those who do not. This kind of recognition can be accomplished through Life Events® or even through simple recognition moments.

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

Recognition, appreciation, and positive reinforcement are powerful supports for every other goal and value your organization is pursuing, so it’s important to incorporate them into every communication you have. Check out our recent Communication Calendar, post ideas to promote your program year-round, and be sure to leverage our communications kits for Employee Appreciation Day, World Gratitude Day, and other employee-centered holidays. These kits feature resources such as posters, digital signage, and messaging templates to reach employees both on-site and off-site.

Embrace employees with limited computer access.

Sometimes lost in the conversation around hybrid work are the offline or field workers who may not be in front of a company-supplied computer. In addition to the communication resources above, be sure you’re embracing them and including them in your recognition culture. This might include techniques such as promoting a mobile app, QR codes, iPads or shared computers in the break room, Wi-Fi connectivity, and/or prominent video screens featuring your recognition feed.

Our Workhuman® research has shown that workers who feel they have a human workplace are: 2x as likely to feel like they can grow in the organization; 41% more likely to feel their work has meaning; and 78% more likely to trust their manager. It is critical to help remote or hybrid employees to retain this sense of connection with the company and their dispersed teams.

Talk to your account team for more ideas on connecting with and recognizing remote or hybrid employees.