` How recognition will help support the return to the office | Reward and Employee Benefits Association (REBA)
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23 Aug 2021

How recognition will help support the return to the office

When Covid-19 first began impacting workplaces, we discussed how social recognition could help ease the move to remote working. Now, as the world heads back to a sense of normality, let’s consider how recognition can make the transition back to work as smooth as possible.

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1. Reconnect your furloughed employees

In a previous article, we covered recognition’s ability to keep furloughed employees socially and culturally involved with the business community (as much as they wanted to be). Thanks to recognition, being furloughed didn’t have to mean you were isolated from colleagues. A good recognition tool functions anywhere, on any device, with no need to use business technology or connections. Employees can stay up-to-date on their projects, check in with friends and colleagues, and remain part of wider employee social circle, even when they’re not working.

When re-joining the business, employees are bound to find it difficult to get back in the swing of things (particularly for individuals who may have been selected, rather than furloughed as part of an entire department). As employees come back to the office, their involvement with recognition – and feeling that they haven’t really been gone – can help smooth the move from out-of-office to normal working. What’s more, employers can use recognition to emphasise the employees’ contributions to the business, helping them feel as though they belong again.

2. Build a sense of normality

While organisations find their feet post-Covid, we must remember that our employees have proven they are more than capable of adapting to change. It is the confusion or uncertainty around this ‘new normal’ which is the biggest challenge. Creating a clearly defined ‘new normal’ as we go back to work will be a crucial part of rebuilding resilient, successful businesses. A significant portion of that work will be around how employees feel – how does work compare to pre-Covid? Are they able to safely socialise with colleagues? Is the adapted office layout comfortable?

While employers cannot encourage close contact or maximise face-to-face time, we can enable our people to utilise social recognition to say ‘thank you’, to recognise good work, and to rebuild relationships around the business. Having the constant of recognition carry over from remote working and into the new work life can be a huge help in maintaining a sense of familiarity and normality.

3. Keeping social(ly distanced)

Just because we may be back to work or returning to the workplace doesn’t mean that the workplace is returning to normal. In fact, for many employees, this new workplace of masks and glass partitions may be even more isolating than working from home. That’s where recognition comes in…

Just as recognition’s social landscape helps while working from home, it can also help when back at work by providing a substitute for the micro-interactions we get in the workplace. Be it asking to borrow a phone charger or a catch-up in the car park, these unnoticeable micro-interactions all add up, boosting employees’ wellbeing. So, if employees can’t sit next to each other, share a coffee or have a quick chat in the lift, the luxury of being able to interact on an intuitive social platform can really help bolster those socially-distanced interactions.

4. Motivating through a new normal

Coming out of the other side of Covid-19, employees are understandably eager to get back to normal and catch up on things that may have been postponed or missed while working remotely. For employers, this is an opportunity to adapt what we consider ‘normal’ for a new world of work.

Recent months have shown more than ever that the old way of working (e.g. 9-5, office-based with rigid hours) is not the only way to work. Many employers are now considering what a new normal could look like; HR teams are investing in wellbeing, pushing flexible working policies or changing shift patterns.

Juggling this shift alongside the transition of employees returning to work is a challenge, but recognition can help. Factoring in the points we’ve laid out, plus recognition’s inherent motivational qualities and culture-boosting effects, the right recognition tool is the perfect companion for any businesses returning to work or journeying to a new hybrid workplace.

Recognition has an endless list of benefits for your people and business, but in times of continued uncertainty, its biggest impact lands firmly in its ability to connect employees – be they countries apart, or just two metres.

This article is provided by Benefex.

Gethin Nadin, director – employee wellbeing at Benefex, will be speaking at REBA’s live and in-person Employee Wellbeing Congress on 30 September. Find out more and register to attend.

In partnership with Benefex

The home of award-winning employee benefits, reward, recognition, & communications.

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