By Jillian Broaddus and Chuck Cusumano
Many things were foregone when employees of the world transitioned from a typical office environment to a work-from-home lifestyle: water cooler chats, meetings that extend beyond the four corners of a Zoom box, and the value of a face-to-face greeting and firm handshake, to name a few.
Although we’re now three years from the start of the pandemic, it’s obviously no secret that the way we work has shifted indefinitely. According to recent research, nearly two-thirds of Americans still work remotely at least part-time, with a whopping 92% working remotely at least one day per week.
It’s no wonder why – the ability to accomplish deadlines in pajamas, to use your lunch break for a gym workout or much-needed errand run, and to work in the comfort of your own home as opposed to the grey walls of a cubicle are all enticing reasons to favor the WFH life. In fact, according to the same aforementioned research, 68% of Americans report preferring to be fully remote.
However, there’s one aspect of the traditional office structure missing that few appear to ever mention. It’s an aspect of work life invaluable to morale, productivity, and engagement. It’s not just “one more thing on the calendar,” but it’s an integral part of our calendars. It’s time to celebrate!
If – as a leader – you think celebration is just “icing on the cake” to a great company culture, you’re mistaken; celebration is actually the cake batter itself. It’s woven into every fiber of employee happiness, but largely lacking in our current workforce: in fact, a Gallup poll found that 65% of employees have not received recognition for accomplishments in the past year. That’s 365 days with no pat on the back, no positive feedback, and no celebration! However, research shows that nearly ¾ of workers claimed they would put in more effort if they felt their company better appreciated their work, while a staggering 90% of employees reported higher levels of trust in their boss when they received some form of gratitude or recognition.
So, suffice it to say that you need to celebrate – even remotely. Here are a few ideas how to cross through the WFH barrier to honor wins:
Have a virtual party – but make sure to make it more than yet another Zoom meeting. Think of sending employees a gift in the mail pre-party that you can open together “on air.” Or, an activity that can be done congruently on the call, such as a cocktail-mixing class, a paint-by-numbers activity, or a trivia game. Speaking of…
Make it a game show: There’s nothing better to build teamwork than having your employees compete in an online version of Family Feud, Jeopardy, or Wheel of Fortune. New types of online games have cropped up left and right during the lockdowns, so have fun trying out anything from bingo to battleship together.
Host an online award show: Bring the Oscars to your Zoom party. Think of shipping employees customized trophies beforehand, and then revealing the winners with a drumroll. This can be done in the form of a monthly award, a traveling award (passed from team member to team member), or a team-oriented award!
Never miss a birthday: One small but meaningful way to celebrate each individual is to organize a birthday ecard that the whole team can digitally sign. Of course, a snail mail birthday card goes a long way, too!
Travel (the web): We all may have had to put our passports to rest over the past few years, but the world is our oyster when it comes to where we can go online. Have fun with backdrops and meeting themes by taking your virtual call to Paris or Rome!
Offer lunch on the company: The next best thing to an in-person lunch? A lunch on the office! Host a virtual cooking class, or send employees gift cards so you can eat together, albeit from a distance. (Perhaps mute yourselves while chewing for this one!)
Do you have your own ways to continue celebrating from near and far? We’d love to hear them, and give you more tips for engaging and honoring your employees at firstname.lastname@example.org!