Number of the day: employee recognition during COVID-19

64: Percentage of employees who say employee recognition and appreciation is more important while working from home.

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Three out of five employees believe employee recognition and appreciation is more important while working from home, yet only one out of five employees (26%) say their company has implemented new ways to reward and recognize them since the current pandemic started, according to data from Snappy Gifts.

What it means to HR leaders

The largely universal move to employees working from home during the pandemic has its downsides, experts say.

“Working from home can be an isolating and disorienting experience for most of today’s workforce who are used to seeing their peers every day at the office,” says Hani Goldstein, co-founder and CEO of Snappy Gifts, a company that works with employers including Salesforce, Uber, Zoom and Deloitte to provide employee-recognition gifts. “The feeling of loneliness increases as regular gestures such as smiling to each other, saying ‘thanks’ from the other side of the room, and celebrating special moments together are lacking from our day-to-day.”

Not only that but many employees are working harder than ever and having a harder time achieving work-life balance. “Hours that were once dedicated to fun activities have been replaced with more work and increased responsibilities,” she says.

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That’s why showing appreciation and recognition for employees is perhaps more important than ever.

“With all these shifts in employees’ day to day, seeking ways to show appreciation through digital methods that don’t require physical touch becomes a priority in many organizations,” Goldstein says.

Bonuses, monetary awards and gifts are important, especially while many employees struggle financially due to COVID-19, but so are simple acknowledgements like e-cards, emails, calling out employees for their hard work during team meetings and simply saying thank you.

Debra Corey, a 20-year total rewards veteran who has worked for companies including Gap Inc. and Honeywell, agrees that the COVID-19 pandemic is demanding more in-the-moment and frequent points of recognition and gratitude.

Related: How the pandemic is changing employee recognition

“We’re in a world that desperately needs kindness, recognition and empathy,” Corey said recently during a session this week at WorldatWork’s Total Resilience Conference, held virtually.

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.