Reward Remote Workers with the Right Incentives

When implementing employee rewards programs, many managers and team leaders are faced with the difficult task of budgeting for incentives and perks. Bringing a box of pizza or doughnuts into an office is always a popular choice, as is taking the team out for a celebratory lunch. These easy culture wins can bring a team together without too much effort and in a cost-effective manner - which is perfect for smaller teams and startups. But these options aren't available for remote teams, begs the question: What is the right incentive amount to keep remote teams motivated and engaged?

1. Recognition (Cost: free)

Sharing praise and appreciation for teammates is always free and one of the best options to keep a remote team engaged. It often helps if the recognition is publicly shared in an online collaboration tool, which feels permanent and official compared to a compliment made in passing.

Recognition can also come in the form of an "Employee of the Month" nomination or another designation for outstanding contributions made in a given time period. The respect and admiration of the team can be felt remotely and can proudly be displayed in a status update or profile description.

2. Perks (Cost: $0-$50)

There are other "free" perks that don't necessarily have a monetary value but are incredibly valuable to remote workers. Being awarded additional vacation days or time off for going above and beyond on a project is recognizing that sometimes extra effort requires time to reset.

Other smaller perks that could work in lieu of a team lunch would be a gift card to a local restaurant or a meal delivery service. Meal deliveries and virtual lunches are a great combination for building rapport on the team, especially when introducing new team members.

Working remotely often means setting up a new home office. Providing some plants, lighting, or decor will enhance the workspace and help remote workers be more efficient throughout the day. Books, posters, and artwork are also a great addition to help freshen up any space.

Remote worker on a computer at a desk

3. Gifts (Cost: $40-$100)

Going beyond practical work incentives, you can look to introduce gifts that could be classified as health and wellness benefits. This could include gym memberships, fitness classes, meditation apps, and other courses that may not be related to career development. The personal well being of remote workers is important to keep them in a strong mental state. This helps to increase focus on work and making connections with the team through common interests.

It's important to clarify that ongoing incentives should not be apart of the employees' overall compensation and bonuses should be evaluated separately. Connecting these rewards to recognition is also a crucial element that enables the incentive to feel earned. It also emphasizes that going beyond expectations is noticed and appreciated by the management team on an ongoing basis.

The best way to keep your remote team motivated and engaged is to frequently offer incentives that are in line with the team's values. This helps to reinforce the company culture and promote a healthy and happy workplace, even when your team is distributed across the globe.


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