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Recognition in The Real World
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Creative Virtual Recognition Ideas

Posted By Ava Ewald, Friday, May 22, 2020
Updated: Friday, May 22, 2020

On Wednesday, May 13, RPI hosted Community Connect, a call with RPI members. Over 40 members joined to share what they have been doing, what concerns they have, and things they would like RPI to offer to help during this time and into the future.

During the call, members got to chat and share ideas about how they have been recognizing employees in their organizations. Here are some of the virtual recognition ideas they discussed:

  • E-cards

Nothing can top the personal nature of a handwritten card, but with limited access to employees, e-cards are a great alternative. Many creative ones are out there—American Greetings has wonderful cards you can email like this one, which features Michael Bolton singing a personalized birthday song for the recipient.

  • Peer-to-peer recognition

Peer-to-peer recognition should be a top priority right now. Since we no longer have the luxury of hallway chitchat, feeling supported and appreciated by coworkers is now more important than ever. For example, encouraging employees to send one email a week to a coworker they appreciate will help lift spirits and maintain your positive company culture.

  • Recognition in a box

Either deliver or send awards and other recognition items to employees’ homes and have them open the box during a virtual celebration.

This is an awesome way to get to know employees and how they are handling their time in isolation. Have employees write six words about how they are feeling and schedule a meeting to have everyone read theirs out loud to the group. It is great for team building and checking in.

  • Virtual happy hours/games

People have had lots of fun with their virtual events. Be creative and give employees a break from the constant isolation and stream of bad news. Some examples of virtual games are bingo, Quiplash like Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity), or Heads Up.

  • Share on social media

If you have not already been recognizing employees on social media, you should start now. Since it is harder to shout someone out in front of their peers, post it on Facebook or Twitter. Do not be afraid to show off how awesome your employees are.

  • Meals delivered to employees’ homes

Go beyond just recognizing your employees and include their families, too. Having a delivery service like Postmates or Uber Eats deliver food from your employee’s favorite restaurant is a great way to recognize someone.

  • Virtual gift cards/certificates

E-gift certificates are so easy and so effective. Just about every store or restaurant has a way to purchase a gift card code. It is great to know what your employees like so that you can be thoughtful about which gift certificate you get them.

  • Foster connections

On your remote calls, ask questions to get to know your employees better. Ask how they are doing, how they have been spending their time, or what brings them joy. Non-work chat is great for helping maintain that sense of community.

  • Communicate

Make sure management is communicating frequently and consistently. Since you can not talk casually in the office, find ways to keep in contact with your employees.

The call concluded with members feeling energized by the opportunity to connect. Make sure to watch for our next Community Connect session.

Register for our virtual conference in September.

Become a CRP.

Tags:  creative  recognition  remote  virtual 

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How to Build a Remote Culture

Posted By Ava Ewald, Monday, May 18, 2020
Updated: Friday, May 22, 2020
Harvard Business Review published an article in 2015 with statistics surrounding workplace culture. Having a great culture is associated with lower health costs, lower turnover, and higher productivity. Right now, many organizations are wondering how they can maintain their culture when most employees are remote. RPI has many resources for you to refer to on workplace culture, but today we will focus on how you can take those culture-building practices to your remote teams.

Forbes listed “Company vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits” as the main elements that contribute to a company culture, so how do we maintain this while remote?

Choose the best communication platform for your team

Bill Gates once said, “I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other.” Whether it is on Slack, Google Hangouts, or a group message, your team should have easy access to each other. In our last blog post, we talked about Doist, a communications company that tried Slack, but found that it did not accommodate different time zones well. If you do not already have a convenient communication platform for your team, try a few out.

An article in Harvard Business Review explains that communication is vital while remote, and each remote team should determine its own set of “norms” or rules for communicating. For example, some teams may have regular Zoom meetings, expect that everyone has their cameras on and that everyone speaks at one point or another. Additionally, if your team all works within the same time zone, you might set boundaries for communication after work hours. For teams with members who all live in different time zones, teams may consider being more aware of each other’s boundaries between work life and personal life.

Frequent communication builds trust, so ensuring you have a reliable communication platform will help employees maintain and develop company culture.


Lean into recognition

Recognition is more important than ever now that employees are isolated. In a normal office setting, you have a variety of recognition methods ranging from a quick “thank you” to a planned recognition event for an employee or team. It is important to keep this structure in a virtual setting and consistently remind employees that they are appreciated. In a recent blog post, we discussed how you can recognize employees virtually, so feel free to learn more about specific practices here.

TLNT Talent Management and HR shows that there are new opportunities for recognition as well. Show your employees how much you appreciate their hard work by hosting a yoga or meditation session to help everyone slow down and unwind. You could also make a donation to a charity in their name. Anything that shows that you are tuned into their feelings and needs will be a great way to recognize them.


Focus on being social

Casual chitchat during the workday is a crucial piece of an organization’s culture. Getting to know your coworkers beyond their work helps build trust and community. We do not get to have the normal “water cooler” chat we usually get in the office. This is a hard void to fill when we are all remote.

Because the casual chitchat cannot come about organically while we work remotely, schedule time for it.  Writing for The Atlantic, Joe Pinsker explains that it might be awkward to schedule time for casual talk, but it is important for your mental health to be able to socialize. For example, schedule a 30-minute break in the morning when your team can hop on Zoom and drink coffee together, or have a virtual happy hour later in the day. Fostering that social connection is key to a healthy workplace culture.


Be empathetic

According to research reported by the Harvard Business Review, "Virtual teammates are 2.5 times more likely to perceive mistrust, incompetence, broken commitments and bad decision making with distant colleagues than those who are co-located. Worse, they report taking five to 10 times longer to address their concerns.” It is much easier to misinterpret texts, emails and even phone calls than it is in person. Since many are not in person, it is important to be cognizant of how things may be misunderstood. Consider re-reading your messages before sending to prevent any potential misinterpretation.

Further, while we are apart physically, many are getting to see their coworkers in a more personal way by getting an up-close look of their home lives—seeing their homes, children and pets. It is important to think about what they may be dealing with. While you might have a quiet home, some employees will be watching after their children or needing to run out to take care of a parent. Showing understanding for their situation will help them feel supported and trusted.


Communication is key when it comes to remote work and leaning into it will help you maintain your company culture.


Learn more about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards.

Register for our virtual conference in September.

Become a Certified Recognition Professional.




Tags:  culture  recognition  remote 

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5 Tips For Remote Team Building

Posted By Ava Ewald, Monday, May 4, 2020
RPI is dedicated helping you learn about and grow your recognition program. They developed their 7 Best Practice Standards to help you better understand what goes into a great program. Recognition is more important than ever in midst of this global health crisis and RPI’s plethora of resources can help guide you in whatever stage of your program you are in.


Many of us have been thrust into remote work for the first time and many others have been doing it for years. Your team may have a mix of experience levels and you may have found that managing a completely remote team is challenging. In this post, we will focus on how to bring everyone together in a virtual environment.


1.       Have consistent connection

Communication is one of the best ways to maintain a positive company culture, so it is especially important to do this when working remotely. Inc says that is important to have these regular check-ins simply to see and hear your coworkers rather than communicating through just email. Scheduling these meetings once a day or once a week can also help maintain structure in your employees’ days. This will help your team feel less isolated in their homes and more connected to their team.

2.       Utilize one-on-one connection

Check in with each member of your team and make sure they have what they need. Forbes recommends scheduling one-on-one meetings. When you are in the office, it is great to drop by your team members’ desks and check in — but when everyone works remotely, this becomes more difficult. Make it a priority to have short one-on-one meetings so you’re familiar with where they are and needs they may have.

3.       Make sure everyone is speaking up equally

In RPI’s March webinar on emotional intelligence, Anne Loehr, Executive Vice President for the Center for Human Capital Innovation, explained that strong teams have an equal amount of talking among all members. Business2Community backs this up by saying that no one person should dominate the conversation — not even the manager. This helps build trust within the team, so this is a great thing to keep in mind when trying to bond your team virtually.

4.       Have a group chat

In an office, there is likely some casual chit-chat going around. This is what many people miss when working remotely. Forbes suggests creating a text or other form of messaging chat so that employees can joke around with each other as they would in the office. If it is all work, employees will not continue to get to know each other. Building those relationships is crucial in a virtual environment.

5.       Create virtual hangouts

Build your team with virtual hangouts. Team Bonding has some great ideas for how you can do this. They suggested things such as a virtual coffee meetup where everyone grabs their own cup of coffee and sits down for time to socialize and connect. Business2Community also had a fun idea to create a virtual campfire. Have everyone grab snacks and share stories. You can even have a campfire zoom background! Be creative with your ideas.


Learn more about recognition practices in our learning center.

See our updates on our annual conference here.

To learn more about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards, click here.

Access Anne Loehr’s webinar on emotional intelligence here.



Tags:  remote  team building 

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How to Maintain Human Connection Remotely

Posted By Ava Ewald, Thursday, April 23, 2020
 RPI is a thought leader in recognition practices. They developed the 7 Best Practice Standards to help you learn about and develop your recognition program. Standard 7 is program change and flexibility. We are in unknown territory in the professional world. As conditions change every day, we have been forced to adapt our goals and expectations. One of the most important things to keep up with is the well-being of your employees. You can do this by maintaining human connection (remotely).


Humans are social by nature, explains Wired. Our distant ancestors hunted in groups for safety and relied on their communities for survival. As a result, we have a deep human instinct to communicate and interact with other humans. Now that many are working remotely, that instinct is not being engaged nearly as much as when we are in the office. We may miss the casual chatter of the office or in-person meetings, but here are some ideas about how we can attempt to maintain that human connection while isolated:


1.       Set expectations to connect

Work has less structure now that employees are at home. While it may seem comfortable and at times fun to be working from home, it is important to maintain expectations for work to keep employees engaged. For example, Forbes suggests setting ground rules for virtual meetings to protect the little human connection there is. For example, this can be done by making a rule against multitasking while in meetings. It is tempting for many to do other work or check emails because their computer is right in front of them during virtual meetings. Putting emphasis on meaningful connection (even virtually) can improve human connection while not in the office.

2.       Create social events

There have been many creative virtual events recently. Some of us may have participated in virtual birthday parties, bridal showers, or virtual races, as some runners did in Oregon. While they are obviously not ideal, Forbes suggests having fun with these virtual events. You can create virtual lunch breaks or happy hours. It will not be as easy or spontaneous as when you are in-person in the office but carving out this social time is important right now.

3.       Foster some friendly competition

There are many ways to create some competition among employees virtually. Forbes stresses the importance of staying active while being confined to your home, so having an exercise competition could be a great way to engage your employees. One company had an “in-person-to-virtual-switch” competition where employees got points for doing things that they would normally do in person, but now are doing virtually—such as a cooking class, a coffee date or a virtual party. You could also have friendly sales competitions or compete on other tasks. Getting employees engaged with each other will help bring back the lack of culture you may be feeling right now.

4.       Be positive

In the midst of a global health crisis, it is more than understandable if you have a hard time staying positive. Putting an emphasis on staying positive can help you and your coworkers feel more connected and engaged. Forbes explains that positivity has a ripple effect, so things as simple as a joke or funny video of the day can lift the spirits of many. You can also lean more into recognition practices. Shout out your employees in a daily or weekly email and encourage your employees to recognize each other. Fostering that team spirit with positivity will help you feel more connected.


For more support, check out RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards.


Read our update on our annual conference here.



Tags:  connection  recognition  remote 

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