Adjusting Engagement and Rewards for Now

Do you know how engaged your employees are right now? Better yet, do you know how to keep them engaged?

Employees who are now working at home have a lot going on—new stresses, anxieties, and continuous adaptation to a changing working environment. Many of us are struggling with finding a strategy for right now and an uncertain future. Implementing some best-in-class strategies for employee engagement—and using digital tools to adapt them for right now—is a good place to start.

Understanding the New Normal

Working from the Office or Home

Now that many companies have laid the foundation for working from home, the option is likely to stick around. This creates a need for flexible tools to engage employees working from the office, home, or both.

How Employees Feel

The truth is, stress and anxiety are up! 44% of folks nowworking from home report a decline in mental health, of which 67% report anincrease in stress and 57% report an increase in anxiety (Qualtrics).Among their primary concerns are financial pressure, isolation, and jobsecurity.

It’s more important than ever to check the foundation ofyour employee-engagement strategy and consider extra ways to help and encourageyour employees.

Setting a Foundation

Every company has a foundation for how employees are meantto engage at work: goals, key results, quotas, performance reviews, companyvalues, and more. Good foundations include four basic elements:

  • Shared purpose
  • Clear responsibilities
  • Success recognition
  • Candor

With this in mind, we asked 500 newly remote employees how engaged they’re feeling, and what’s helped so far.

The good news is that immediately available technology, suchas video calling, has 65% feeling at least somewhat engaged. But what aboutafter a month? What about the 35% that aren’t engaged? It’s important to lay afoundation for all employees to know how to engage, that they’re contributing,and how they can improve.

Choosing technology—whether email, intranet, CRM, chat, ormore—that supports purpose and candor at the office and from home is foundationalin the new normal.

At Tango Card, we help companies boost employee engagementwith digital rewards and incentives that are flexible for a distributedworkforce. There are a few common ways that gift cards can be used to engageemployees.

1. Appreciation

We asked 500 newly remoteworkers what would make them feel most appreciated now that they’re workingfrom home:

  • 50% said a gift card
  • 22% said meal delivery

It’s also worth noting that any of these answers can be supported virtually with a digital gift-card component. Digital rewards are a simple way to show employees that you appreciate them. Weave into your engagement strategy a sponsored meal or some digital entertainment for your employees and their family to show you care.

2. Recognition

Recognition can come in many forms. The most basic form ofrecognition is just saying, “good job” now and again—and it’s been proven tomake people feel better and performbetter. “Researchers at the Wharton School at the University ofPennsylvania randomly divided university fundraisers into two groups. One groupmade phone calls to solicit alumni donations in the same way they always had.The second group—assigned to work on a different day—received a pep talk fromthe director of annual giving, who told the fundraisers she was grateful fortheir efforts. During the following week, the university employees who heardher message of gratitude made 50% more fundraising calls than those who didn’t(Harvard).”

Now, time for a personal anecdote: I also made calls fordonations back in college. We all may hate receiving calls around dinner time,but it works for catching people at home—although it’s a gamble on catching“hangry” folks. Some nights the college would have dinner for us while we werecalling, other nights, they wouldn’t. I was definitely happier to be there on thenights they had dinner.

Providing a little extra to the student employees—in theform of a free dinner—went a long way in increasing my engagement. Even better,I’m a millennial, so put that in the “how do we engage millennials?” bag of tricks.

While there’s no need to pair recognition with a tangiblereward to spread gratitude and help performance—in fact, setting theexpectation of a reward is demotivating long term—giving managers and peers away to surprise each other with a small gift can sweeten the gesture. Not tomention, the recognition will extend further when they use or spend their gift.

3. Motivation

Do you have, or have you considered, an incentive program tomotivate employees to achieve individual and team goals?

Incentive programs have proven ROI. These days, however,people understand incentive programs only work when they’re laid on top of asolid employee-engagement foundation (remember: shared purpose, clearresponsibilities, success recognition, and candor). Without this foundation,incentive programs can do more harm thangood, but as long as all employees are considered—and base engagement hasbeen well thought out—an incentive program can supercharge efforts to achievesales goals or drive towards project conclusions.

No one knows incentive programs better than our partners atthe Maritz PXExchange. The PX Exchange is an essential resource for planning, designing,implementing, and measuring incentive program success. And yes, they have toolsfor you to run an incentive program for a distributed workforce—includingseveral digital reward options.

Next Steps

Employees and managers are adapting to a new normal, soreassessing your foundation of employee engagement is essential. At its core,this means ensuring you cover the four basics: shared purpose, clearresponsibilities, success recognition, and candor. Then consider if your toolsand strategy for ongoing employee engagement work for a distributed workforce.

Lastly, at Tango Card, we help thousands of companies usedigital rewards for employee appreciation, recognition, and motivation. Digitalgift cards, now more than ever, give employees a choice of rewards that theycan enjoy wherever they are—keeping them engaged from home and the office.

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