19 Best Virtual Employee Recognition Ideas & Tips

Virtual employee recognition ideas are the deliberate actions by leaders in an organization to acknowledge remote employees doing a good job. The main reasons for recognizing virtual employees are to boost morale and productivity and retain remote staff.

This post includes:

  • virtual employee appreciation games
  • employee recognition ideas for virtual teams
  • ways to recognize employees virtually
  • tips for recognizing employees virtually

Here are the ideas!

List of 12 Virtual Employee Recognition Ideas

#1. Social media recognition

Public praise is a valuable tool for virtual appreciation and recognition. You can use social media to make a positive impact on employees.

For instance, you can use company social media accounts to publicly recognize and appreciate employees who put in extra effort to achieve goals and exceed expectations.  Social media is both cost-effective and highly visible.

As a manager, you can shout out exemplary employees in the workforce’s activity stream.

Public and external acknowledgment remains a motivating factor that rewards positive behavior even in a virtual working environment.

#2. One on one recognition

One shortcoming of the virtual work environment is limited human interaction.

Face-to-face recognition goes a long way in establishing the authenticity of a good gesture. Sending a fellow team member a “good job” text is less memorable than a face-to-face meeting.

Fortunately, technology can facilitate these face-to-face thanks in virtual offices.

Software like Zoom makes it possible to give immediate recognition to any team member. You can organize video meetings with praiseworthy team members. During these calls, assure individuals that you notice their effort and value their contributions. These conversations will communicate that you respect these remote teammates. Plus, an on-screen appearance will help to build rapport.

#3. Virtual upskilling opportunities

Remote working environments offer many opportunities for training and development. For example, you can cover the cost of online education on behalf of your remote workforce.

Helping team members to improve and grow is a meaningful way to show thanks and share your belief in your employees’ abilities.

Another idea is giving the employees the space and opportunity to pursue on-the-job challenges like taking up small-scale leadership roles in the team.

Allowing your remote workforce to better their in-person skills proves that you care about their growth and personal development.

#4: Wellness upgrades

Well-being is an essential concern for virtual employees who can get less exercise and social interaction than their in-office counterparts.

Recognition for remote employees can take the form of a health stipend. For instance, reward your virtual workforce with monthly subscriptions to online health programs like yoga, meditation, and workouts to help them stay healthy.

Another aspect of wellness that is the most important is mental health. Working from home can be lonely and affects mental health. One way of expressing gratitude and appreciation is organizing a free mental health check by a professional via Zoom. The benefit of this approach is that this virtual meeting can happen on the employees’ schedules and in the comfort of their own homes.

#5. Remote office equipment upgrade

In the early stages of shifting to an online working environment, employees usually do not have solid setups. As a result, makeshift working stations are common for first-time remote workers.

A great way of showing recognition and appreciation for your online workforce is to upgrade home working stations to more comfortable and productive setups.

For example, you can provide a one-time stipend or an ongoing allowance for fast internet, an extra monitor, ergonomic chairs, or even a good-quality laptop.

This recognition idea serves as appreciation and doubles up as a tool to increase productivity and prevent some remote work-related injuries.

#6. Fun recognition

When you think about virtual employee recognition, it is natural to think first of performance metrics.

However, acting on creative employee recognition opportunities will lighten the mood for your team and promote small positive behaviors.

You can organize informal awards for your remote workforce. For instance, include awards like the cleanest virtual office setup or the most punctual Zoom attendee of the month. These out-of-the-ordinary shoutouts are among the most creative employee recognition ideas for virtual teams. To make the activity more interactive, allow team members to suggest titles for teammates.

Such fun recognition ideas will break the monotonous, rigid work atmosphere and create a culture of connection and fun at work.

#7. Virtual leaderboards

Leaderboards are a traditional method of employee recognition. Using leaderboards is a form of gamification that plays a huge role in employee engagement. It is natural for employees to feel a sense of achievement and joy when their names appear on a leaderboard.

There are ways to continue the practice within online offices as well. For example, you can reveal weekly, monthly, or quarterly rankings on a shared spreadsheet, team email, or Slack channel.

Keeping track of your organization’s top performers will mean that the employee’s name remains at the top of the leaderboard, giving them the satisfaction and recognition they deserve.

This display can also motivate other employees to try to rise in the ranks. These digital leaderboards are one of the best virtual employee appreciation games.

#8. Online community events

One idea for virtually recognizing employees is to invite your team member to attend an event like a concert or stand-up comedy special. The purpose of the gathering is to reward effort and achievements. You can create a watch party and invite your team members to an online concert.

Invitees will feel valued and appreciated and will get time to bond with workmates.

#9. Client feedback

One way of recognizing the efforts of your virtual workforce is to compile positive feedback from clients. For instance, you can forward positive client reviews to the employee in question or publicly post the praise on a team channel.

This sharing shows employees that clients appreciate the hours and effort put into the work. It is easy for the individuals in your team to get lost in the process and not realize how vital their work is to other people.

Positive feedback from the very customers they strive to serve will be a much-needed morale booster.

#10. Bonus for exemplary efforts

Employees tend to work extra hard when there is a reward.

You can introduce bonuses to mark the completion of certain milestones in the company, for instance, after meeting quarterly sales quotas, receiving 20 positive customer reviews, or completing five online sales classes.

This tactic motivates employees to strive to hit targets and stick around long enough to achieve more goals in the future.

The reward doesn’t have to be large to be impactful.  Often the incentive is a percentage of the monthly salary. However, a bonus could also come as company merchandise or holiday packages.

#11. OTT subscription rewards

Many remote employees struggle with boredom. However, working at a desk in your house every day can be repetitive, and extra motivation can help employees be more productive.

One way of recognizing your virtual workforce is by offering them a subscription on one of their favorite OTT platforms, for instance, Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.

We recommend you talk to your team and find out what would be the best platform for them. This gift might be a small gesture of appreciation, yet the present is practical and can brighten your team’s workdays.

#12. Suprise off days

Working from home is often glamorized yet comes with its fair share of challenges. Achieving work-life balance within a loose working structure is difficult for many remote workers.

A surprise off day is one of the best ways to recognize employees virtually. Free time allows virtual team members to relax and spend time with family without worrying about deadlines or daily targets.

This necessary break will leave team members rejuvenated and more energized for work.

Random midweek breaks are quite simple appreciation ideas that work to the benefit of both employees and employers.

List of 7 Tips for Recognizing Employees Virtually

#1. Recognition should be a routine

Incorporating gratitude as part of the working routine can be a great morale booster for virtual employees. Unfortunately, working remotely often leaves employees feeling disconnected and isolated.

Appreciating and passing along gratitude is important. Be sure to regularly recognize and applaud stellar performances and initiatives in your weekly virtual meetings.

Here are some examples of how routine employee recognition can work:

  • Thank you Thursdays
  • End of month ecards
  • End of month lunch voucher
  • Weekly email shoutouts
  • Slack channel for peer to peer praise

While it may seem obvious, an earnest “thank you for your great input” goes a long way in raising employee spirits.

The effect of this small gesture can be huge. A steady stream of thanks and praise will uplift the team and give employees motivation and support to handle personal problems.

#2. Send personalized appreciation

There are few more impactful ways of appreciating your employees than sending a personalized thank you note!

A tailored note can either be a physical letter or an e-card. A personalized message is a simple yet thoughtful way of extending genuine gratitude to employees.

The letter holds sentimental value for employees and can sit on their desk as a constant reminder of your appreciation.

Such a kind gesture will not only serve as a motivation but also will help in fostering a positive employee-to-manager relationship.

Tailoring the message to the individual employee rather than giving a generic “good job” will make the sentiment more meaningful and impactful and will seem more sincere.

#3. Understand what is important to employees

Most remote workforces feel like their supervisors do not accord them the necessary help and support to deal with virtual work problems.

Remote working has unique challenges that, left unchecked, can cause a disconnect between employees and the leadership.

By understanding that each employee’s needs are different, you can tailor rewards to have the intended impact. The best way to properly appreciate each employee doing a good job is by giving team members autonomy in choosing the award.

By addressing each individual’s needs on a personal level, the kind gesture will go a long way because it is what appeals most to them.

#4. Celebrate staff’s special days

Events like birthdays or work anniversaries have always been special days for most conventional workplaces. Online work environments are no reason to stop practicing this tradition.

Celebrating employees’ special days makes workers feel recognized and appreciated. There are several ideas for celebrating these occasions, for instance, gifting the individual concerned with reward points or even electronic gift cards.

Also, you may host a virtual party where team members share special messages and play games together.

Another idea is to send gifts and goodies to the celebrant. Celebrating an online occasion can be a simple experience that brings everyone in the team together.

#5. Treat your virtual workforce to a meal

Sharing a meal is an age-old practice in many organizations.  Online offices can treat remote workers to communal meals by hosting virtual lunches.

To treat team members to a thank-you-lunch, send vouchers to food delivery services, or offer to reimburse the cost of a meal.

You can award above-and-beyond performances by giving employees a bonus to treat their families to a nice meal.

Such generous acts from the leadership go a long way in showing the employees that their efforts are appreciated both at work and on a personal level outside work.

This gesture is particularly impactful, especially to the busy employees.

#6. Send company merchandise or care packages

Good quality company merchandise makes people feel loved and appreciated and can encourage employees to show their company pride. This approach is customizable and also flexible to budget.

If you have a bigger budget and want to show appreciation for a job well done, then send a care package with an assortment of employee appreciation gifts.

The best time to deliver such appreciation packages would be after an anniversary or after completing a major goal in the company.

To make the gesture even more meaningful, attach a handwritten note thanking the employee for particular contributions. Care packages and company merchandise do not have to be expensive to be impactful.

#7. Organize regular contests and games

The virtual work environment often makes employees long for a stronger sense of community and connection.

One way of bringing this connection to your remote workforce is to organize online competitions, games, and rewards.

Every month, you can organize an online game tournament for your team. For instance, online poker, two truths and a lie, or video charades. The event’s main goal is to facilitate bonding and connection in a virtual environment.

As human beings, belonging to a group of like-minded individuals is beneficial for work-related performance and individual growth.

Here are fun virtual games for big groups.

Final Thoughts

Cultivating a grateful culture in any company has a trickle-down effect. Appreciative leaders build authentic relationships with employees and motivate team members to strive.

An excellent corporate culture, high retention rate, and collaborative working space stem from proper employee recognition.

Remember, recognition works best when ongoing, and it is important to build a culture of frequent appreciation that eventually becomes a routine. Appreciating your virtual workforce makes employees aware that their efforts contribute immensely to the company’s overall success.

Whether your team is just transitioning to working remotely or has been doing so for several years now, we hope that you will implement some of these ideas to appreciate the effort they have put in.

Next, check out this list of virtual communication activities and this guide to boosting engagement on remote teams.

FAQ: Virtual employee recognition ideas

Here are answers to common questions about virtual employee recognition.

How do I recognize remote employees for good work?

Recognizing remote employees is simply the act of acknowledging their hard work as frequently as possible.

What is the best way to appreciate virtual employees?

There are plenty of ways of appreciating virtual employees, but the most recommended methods are:

  • Subscription to a wellness program.
  • Upgrading office equipment
  • Recognizing staff’s special days

The outcome of all these tactics is higher employee morale, better teamwork, and higher job satisfaction. 

How often should I appreciate my “virtual” workforce?

It is important to recognize individuals who work exemplarily as often as possible. However, we recommend that you make a point to recognize the efforts of your employees after the achievement of a milestone.

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