• Dr. Rajesh Mohan Rai

Remote Teams — Reward and Recognition

Article originally published in Medium.

No one wants to do a thankless job or feel unappreciated. If the leaders do not act in time, may lead to resentment, high attrition, low engagement levels and burnout. On the other side genuine employee appreciation that says something, acknowledges employee’s contributions has many far-reaching effects, the biggest being improvement in the engagement levels. Today, more than ever, leaders have the responsibility to ensure the employees feel wanted, valued, appreciated and recognized. Reward and recognition should not be an afterthought. However, they have to ensure that these appreciations are not just symbolic.

According to a Gallup survey, ignoring employees has an even more damaging effect on their engagement in the organization than if the leader consistently pointed out their weaknesses.


An environment of appreciation is a key element of organization culture which spreads positivity, particularly in organizations that have adopted a work-from-home model for a long period of time or have remote teams. Creating, maintaining and strengthening a positive culture is more challenging with remote teams. Appreciation and Recognition are great tools in the hand of leaders to boost the culture of their organization across geographies and time zones and the restrictions technology inflicts on communication.


Below suggested actions may yield the desired results when done with genuine intent and also strengthens the organization culture of reward and recognition.


Employees must be conveyed that they matter, and their work matters too. This message when conveyed without any hidden agenda, is enough for employees to take pride in what they do. This is empowering for them. Letting employees know that their work matters, feeds their intrinsic need to contribute more and make a difference. Employee recognition results in employee engagement, so it is important for leaders to provide feedback to their team members. Leaders have to be specific. Employees want to hear their individual efforts are recognized and valued. When an employee takes initiative or exceeds expectations, leader should send a message that specifically points out his/ her contribution and accomplishment.


Focus on employees’ strengths. Everyone possesses strengths. As per a Gallup study, employees who know their strengths and have the opportunity to use them at work are SIX times as likely to be engaged in their jobs. By aligning an employee’s responsibilities and tasks with his/her strengths, organizations can boost morale and productivity. It is powerful tool for motivation. Leaders must integrate strengths and reward/ recognition approach. Allowing employees to utilize their strengths leads them to the path of happiness, improved morale and higher engagement.


Show Gratitude. As stated in the book “Intelligent Leadership” by John Mattone, the ability to provide sincere, heartfelt praise and recognition comes from an element of character called gratitude. Grateful leaders establish meaningful connections with great ease and can uplift their peers and team members by being selfless. Taking time out for articulating gratitude is a superb way to recognize employees regularly. The leaders must go beyond generic emails.


Respect Diversity in Cultures. Integrating rewards and recognition into your remote efforts requires thorough detailing of the diverse cultures of the remote employees. A respect and sensitivity for the work from home employee’s culture is essential, especially for organizations with teams spread across different geographies. Maintain a detailed calendar that lists each person’s religious and cultural special days and keep workers’ cultural background in mind when you plan to reward international employees.


Establish Culture of Honor. Respect is the key element of building a culture of honor. When the leaders and team members respect each other and hold them in high esteem, the culture which gets established is completely free of negativity. It promotes NO Gossiping. Factions disappear. Creates an aura of legitimate and genuine recognition which acts as a big motivator. This empowers employees, develops a strong sense of belongingness towards the organization and the work they are doing, leading to a high degree of alignment with organization values.


As a leader when you initiate the modifications to the process and system to implement the reward and recognition among the remote teams, consistency would be the KEY. When the newly designed rewards and recognition system which is giving you the desired results, you may start communicating about the established culture in the organization, a culture that promotes employee participation on one hand and employee independence on the other.