The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted thousands of businesses across the globe. But, it’s more than a business’ bottom line that matters. As an HR manager, thinking about how the pandemic has affected your employees should be a top priority.

Workers who feel underappreciated are less likely to work effectively. They may not be as productive, they’ll show less loyalty, and they might even start to struggle with personal health issues. Ultimately, underappreciated employees can make for a toxic work environment.

Appreciated employees, however, are 13% more productive. Other benefits include increased profitability, a positive workplace culture, and increased motivation. From an HR perspective, it’s easier to retain top talent if you develop a reputation for having satisfied employees.

However, the pandemic has made it somewhat difficult for workers to find motivation and feel appreciated, especially when working from home. Now, as things slowly start to return to normal, what can you do? How can you make your employees feel appreciated as the pandemic continues and when it’s over?

Adapting to remote work

Many people have been working remotely for over a year. It probably took several months just to get everyone on the same page and to keep things running smoothly. Now that it’s become more of the “norm,” your employees could be losing steam. They might be falling into unproductive routines at home, and with a lack of daily interaction, they could easily feel underappreciated.

So, what can you do to keep them from getting distracted and make them feel seen and appreciated? Start with strategic planning. Include things like:

  • Preparing everyone for meetings
  • Fostering collaboration
  • Keeping the board organized
  • Voting on ideas

When people feel like they’re contributing and have a voice, they’re less likely to get distracted, and they can actually become more motivated, knowing their suggestions and ideas matter.

If you find that your employees are still struggling remotely, consider setting up an appreciation program. It could be something as simple as weekly recognition for specific workers or offering perks and benefits to employees when they are well-deserved.

Keeping employees motivated with incentives

Speaking of perks and benefits, offering incentives is a great way to let your employees know their work is appreciated.

You can use the power of incentives whether your employees are still working remotely or they’re back in the office. Some of the most promising incentives (that won’t cause you to go over budget) include:

  • Upgrading personal equipment/technology
  • Offering flexible hours or more remote options
  • Paying them double time
  • Honoring them publicly
  • Throwing a special party or event
  • Free catered lunch

Have some fun coming up with potential incentives. They can be fairly general, like those listed above. Or, you can get personal with your particular office. Think about things employees would really enjoy. Maybe that means going to a major league baseball game as an office, or having a bowling night after work. Whatever the case, don’t let things get too rigid. Your employees will feel more appreciated if you approach them with these incentives happily and excitedly.

HR managers, especially, are required to show creativity and empathy in guiding incentive and appreciation programs. Of course, if you’re feeling stuck or want to come up with really fresh, creative incentives, don’t be afraid to talk to other HR professionals. Networking is about more than just seeking out jobs. It’s about bettering one another within different industries. Showing your desire to work with others and be flexible while fostering creativity speaks to your competence as an HR professional.

Showing small acts of appreciation each day

You’ve probably heard the saying “it’s the little things that count,” and that rings true in the workplace, too. You might be surprised how far a simple “thank you” or “great job” will go.

Additionally, small signs of appreciation will create a better environment for everyone. Not just a more positive one, but a workplace that fosters daily learning and growing. Feedback is a wonderful way to show appreciation. In fact, 83% of employees appreciate getting some kind of feedback, whether positive or negative. It lets them know they’re being seen and their work is valued. By offering your support and constructive criticism, you’re encouraging them to do better and reminding them that they can.


Read more: 5 Simple ways to encourage learning every single day


A little appreciation can go a long way. Thanks to the pandemic, you might have to get creative in all of the ways you show it. But, by thinking outside of the box, keeping your employees motivated, and recognizing what they do every day, you can create a positive environment, whether you’re in-person or still remote. That will result in happy employees who are productive, loyal, and excited about coming to work each day.

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