By now it’s widely known that flexible work options, including the ability to work remotely, are near the top of today’s job seekers’ wish lists. Our own survey report on The Remote Workforce found that nearly 75% of millennials have expressed a desire to have more opportunities to work remotely. The shifting dynamic of where employees are clocking in from brings with it an increased focus on how to keep all workers, regardless of location, engaged and feeling valued.
Whether your employees work in the same location or five states away, they all deserve to be a part of the cadence of recognition moments within your organization. Furthermore, if recognition is promoted as the lifeblood of your company culture, you better find a place for it at regular intervals throughout the week.
Here are some ways to accomplish this without tapping into nonexistent funds or stretching your schedule too thin:
Encourage Shout Outs
At a weekly team teleconference, one coworker was reviewing a recent project and took the time to personally acknowledge every individual who had played a role in the completion of the various related tasks. The list was extensive, and it showed just how many contributors it can take to create success. But what it also did was express gratitude and give due recognition to each person, on a name-by-name basis, and this simple act that tacked on an additional 60 seconds to the call likely had profound ripple effects on the overall team camaraderie and fellowship.
If your organization utilizes regularly scheduled team huddles, you’re off to a good start. If you’re able to intentionally include a “shout out” portion in your agenda, you’ll find not only the ways that your employees work together to accomplish business objectives, but you’ll foster a spirit of togetherness and create a habit of acknowledging one another for the great things your team does.
Use Their Name
Have you ever been at a conference, dinner or other event where there’s a large crowd creating a multitude of conversations and background noise, yet somehow from the other side of the room you’re able to hear someone say your name? There’s a psychological phenomenon that explains this and proves just how powerful our names are. It’s called the “cocktail party effect,” and research on this marvel shows that humans, using the left side of the brain, are able to discriminate sounds that we are listening for from background noise. As humans, we’re programmed to hear when our name is said, and to turn our attention to the source every time it happens.
All of this is to say that there is an immeasurable value in including individuals’ names in conversations. Studies have shown that the sound of your name has profound impacts on brain activity. After all, your name makes you an individual, and when someone says it, they’re creating a personal connection and showing that you’re not a nameless stranger.
We know one major rule of communication is to keep it concise, so it should be a pleasant discovery that you can say all these things…
- I value your opinion.
- You have my undivided attention.
- I appreciate your input.
- Your thoughts are credible.
- I am listening to you.
- I care about what you have to say.
…with just one word: their name. Be sure to take every natural opportunity to use names in conversations, and you may just see an increased willingness to voice opinions or go above and beyond.
Incorporate Active Voice
When you have the option of active vs. passive voice, choosing the former is one way to easily add recognition to a moment without adding time. Recipients of a passive voice statement can typically infer meaning from the context, and this type of statement is commonplace among many channels of communication, most notably email. In active voice, the subject performs the action, which personalizes and clarifies the owner of the sentiment. In many cases it’s a simple reorganization of words. Here’s an example:
Passive: It would be appreciated if you could provide feedback by close of business Friday.
Active: I would appreciate it if you could provide feedback by close of business Friday.
Just being mindful of how your sentences are constructed is a zero-cost way to show someone their work is valued, improve interactions and increase engagement.
Note: passive voice is not the same as passive aggressive language, which has a bad habit of creeping up in human interactions even though it’s universally frowned upon.
Regardless of the composition of your workforce or whether you plan to extend the option to your employees to telecommute as the trend takes the labor landscape by storm, there are ways to ensure that every member of your team is consistently on the receiving end of recognition moments. They do not have to be elaborate shows of gratitude with cake and confetti (although those are welcome, too). They can be as simple as factoring time into a meeting, adding a word to a statement or restructuring a sentence.