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Remote Work
How to give employee recognition a boost online
Perry Timms
September 7, 2021

The power of recognising and celebrating professional achievements has always been an important element in workplace culture. As remote working becomes more integral to our lives, we must find creative ways to celebrate individual and team success online.

It is no secret that most employees appreciate recognition for a job well done or acknowledgment for going above and beyond. It is a small but integral component in a positive work culture.

The positive impact of an act of recognition of employee performance, like a pat on the back for a job well done, is something that should not be underestimated or forgotten about in a world of remote working.

Recognition makes employees feel included, noticed and appreciated in their role and without it, it can lead to a disillusioned and disengaged workforce.

What seems to be less understood is the importance of how the recognition is delivered and in the new digital workspace we now find ourselves in, this delivery needs to be updated too.

Outdated delivery methods

Recognition that is not delivered in the right way, is a wasted opportunity to elevate engagement both for the recipient and their colleagues. It sounds simple and obvious, but when we look at the details of the employee recognition programmes many organisations have in place, they are not spontaneous.

Often they require layers of unnecessary approval and a lengthy timeline, so that by the time someone is commended, the task or reasons they were recognised for have long passed. Some have a limited ‘quota’ on employee recognition, leading to unmotivated employees.

The ability for colleagues to publicly reinforce the recognition is also an important opportunity to strengthen employee and cultural bonds.

Many miss the opportunity to reinforce company goals and values by linking them to the act of recognition and the positive knock on effect this can have across the company.

Very often there is an absence of wider communication when recognition is awarded to an employee, resulting in a lack of awareness from other employees on their achievement.

The ability for colleagues to publicly reinforce the recognition is also an important opportunity to strengthen employee and cultural bonds and see a tangible result that they can aim for too.

Technology that enables employee recognition

Social media has evolved over the years to optimise the act of appreciation and acknowledgement. Think of how many posts on your social media feed are expressions of recognition or gratitude, and consider what others do in response to those posts - like, comment and share.

With that capability inside an organisation, acts of recognition can become instant, transparent and awarded easily, allowing positive messaging and encouragement flow through employee networks.

Acts of recognition can become instant, transparent and awarded easily.

Technology can and does play a significant role in enabling purposeful employee recognition and allowing employees to feel connected to each other and the organisation.

Virtual awards

An example of a few of the typical capabilities that exist in technology solutions and that provide powerful employee recognition, create transparency and promote a positive workplace culture (no matter where employees are located), are features like shout-outs, employee and team award nomination and badges.

Shout-outs and ‘likes’ are associated with public ‘shout-outs’ that are given to a person or team and are linked to company goals or values. Shout-outs can be commented on by other employees, reinforcing the recognition and strengthening team bonds.

Employee and team award nominations are another great way to call out great efforts. People can be nominated to receive an award from management or peers by direct awarding or through voting.

They bring employees profiles to life and are a great way of amplifying appreciation for a job well done.

These awards bring the organisational values to life as voters can submit their thoughts on how the nominated colleague or team has demonstrated these values in their everyday life.

Other features like ‘badges’ enable organisations to recognise the accomplishments of their employees by awarding prestigious badges that sit proudly on the profile page of each employee.

Badges can be categorised to acknowledge the completion of a certification or training, participation in corporate social responsibility programmes, attendance of a company event, as well as tenure milestones and everything in between.

They bring employees profiles to life and are a great way of amplifying appreciation for a job well done.

The future

With the workforce becoming increasingly distributed, the opportunity for the occasional ‘pat-on-the-back’ in the office is becoming marginalised.

While some companies have taken on the initial challenge of moving their entire workforce remotely and dealing with the logistics of setting up employees to work from home, these more intangible actions have been pushed to the side for now.

But this is a fundamental aspect of workplace culture and should not be neglected. In the same way that technology is evolving to help people communicate remotely, so must the need to support recognition and a public display of appreciation within the company.

Leaders must practice it, enable it and promote it.

Over the next few months and years, the cultural fabric that knits together organisations will need to become more malleable, more flexible and more resilient.

Actions such as public recognition are one of the many ways in which this fabric is made resilient and adds to engagement, inclusion and overall employee happiness. It cannot be assumed, and leaders must practice it, enable it and promote it.

About the author

Perry Timms is the Founder & Chief Energy Officer of PTHR, with 30+ yrs experience in people, learning, technology, organisation change & transformation. His personal mission is to see more people flourish through their work, and help shift organizations as a force for societal good (not just profit machines). PTHR's mission is defined as "Better Business for a Better World". In October 2017, his first book, Transformational HR - was published by Kogan Page and the Energized Workplace published in August 2020. He was an extremely proud new entrant to the list of HR Most Influential Thinkers for 2017 and again in 2018 + 2019 (in the top 10 both years).

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