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Published on: HR Consultant

Differences Between Recognition and Reward With a Remote Workforce

The fast-paced world, coupled with the pandemic, has changed the way we function in relation to our work. Many of us have adopted an entirely remote setup, while others have returned to the office or embraced a hybrid approach.

With any workforce, and regardless of the industry, rewards and talent management is a key priority. This is even more relevant with a remote workforce who are likely to feel out of touch if permanently working remotely.

It’s crucial to not lose sight of using recognition to praise your employees and to use rewards when appropriate. When working with clients, it is always my aim to ensure a fair and transparent approach to recognition and reward strategies to drive performance and employees’ trust.

Establishing the Differences Between Recognition and Reward

Staying on track with recognition and rewards should be at the forefront of any business. After all, a happy workforce makes for a productive workforce that thrives to make a positive impact. Losing sight or focus of a recognition or reward system can result in the loss of team spirit and contagious negative energy. 

However, these two crucial components of the reward strategy are often confused, reducing the impact and relevance of each. 

The main difference between recognition and rewards is that recognition can be linked to appreciation – whether that’s the appreciation of effort or of the outcomes achieved. Reward, on the other hand, should be more tangibly linked to specific outcomes or skills demonstrated. 

Often we see managers and colleagues feeling grateful for efforts made by team members and wanting to ‘reward’ this effort, even where goals or outcomes haven’t been achieved. This is where recognition schemes really come into their own, and can be a powerful driver of team spirit, positive appreciation, and employee trust. Recognition can, and should,  take place frequently, and might be accompanied by a small financial reward, but the main impact is in the recognition and appreciation shared.

What Are the Benefits of Recognition in the Workplace?

Employees thrive on recognition, and many of your employees are likely to need reassurance that they are on the right track and are positively contributing to the success of their team.

Showing recognition to employees that have made positive progress and contributions can give them a greater sense of employee satisfaction and enjoyment in their position. A happy employee also makes for a loyal employee that feels empowered to show more loyalty and engagement whilst demonstrating increased productivity.

Positive recognition can also improve the team culture and spirit, decrease employee turnover, decrease stress and absenteeism, as well as increase the retention rates of quality employees that may otherwise lose touch if not recognised for their hard efforts.

What Are the Benefits of Reward in the Workplace?

A reward strategy must be aligned with your business and reinforce the behaviours you expect and look for in your team. Rewards must be relevant, innovative and flexible in order to engage employees. 

When rewards are given to valuable team members that have demonstrated the desired values, behaviours and goals, it can really boost productivity and morale within the workplace and push team members to take more accountability for their work.

Rewards can even encourage friendly competition, and if distributing team-based rewards, can also improve collaboration between teams.

How to Adopt Recognition and Reward With a Remote Workforce

It’s easy for remote workers to be out of sight, out of mind. This can, unfortunately, lead to remote workers feeling disconnected from their work, peers and management.

Your approach to reward and recognition says a lot about who you are as a business, so I will always suggest choosing a recognition and rewards strategy that gives your employees a reason to feel excited, even if they work remotely.

In order to effectively adopt recognition and reward, it’s crucial that you first identify the behaviours you are looking for – whether that be dedication, commitment, effective communication, accountability, professionalism or becoming a trustworthy member.

You can adopt recognition and rewards by being fair and recognising efforts from workers in all departments (rather than in teams where results are more prominent) and aligning your recognition and rewards with your company’s mission, vision and values. To ensure that recognition and rewards are fair, you may also wish to adopt collaborative voting for rewards so that employees are able to nominate standout talent from their peers.

In terms of recognition, it’s absolutely vital that it is carefully timed so that it does not lose its meaning and is given immediately when positive behaviours and values are displayed and observed. Rewards should be creative, so it’s important to find unique ways to reward your employees that are more relevant to them, even if that means giving them a choice of a variety of rewards.

Make a habit of recognising employees so that recognition becomes part of your company culture, even if that means recognising remote workers who are more likely to feel isolated.

As time goes on, you should be prepared to regularly review your approach to reward and how you recognise efforts from your employees.

Some ideas for recognition and reward schemes can include certificates, trophies, medals, verbal recognition, additional days of annual leave, monetary bonus, gift cards, brand-name consumer products (i.e. electronics, jewellery, etc), gourmet treats or a personalised gift hamper.

Evolve Your Reward Initiatives

Employee reward and recognition has been proven to improve organisational values, enhance team efforts, increase customer satisfaction and motivate certain behaviours.

​If you aren’t sure of how to structure or implement a reward strategy and system, you may benefit from using an HR consultant who will be able to evolve your reward initiatives and link this seamlessly to your HR and wider business plan.

If you would like to better understand HR talent management and rewards in the workplace please feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to help.