6 Ways to Recognize Deskless Employees - theEMPLOYEEapp

6 Ways to Recognize Deskless Employees

6 Ways to Recognize Deskless Employees

Last updated on March 3, 2023 at 06:41 pm

Employee recognition is one of the most important parts of the employee experience and is a deciding factor in how engaged and committed employees feel at work. So, why are we so bad at doing it…especially for our deskless and distributed employees? In this blog, we’ll focus on six ways to recognize employees at your company, including your deskless workers.

Only 1 in 3 employees believe they received some type of recognition in the last week, and employees who don’t feel appreciated are twice as likely to quit in the next year (Gallup). 

Why Employee Recognition Matters

Showing employees appreciation is one of the best ways to retain them. Of course, it doesn’t replace proper compensation, benefits, and safe working conditions, but ensuring that recognition is part of your strategy is an easy, affordable way to improve retention and performance.

When managers give weekly feedback, their team is 3.2 times more likely to strongly agree they are motivated to do outstanding work (Gallup).

And yet…

  • 60% of employees are neutral or disagree that their company is effective at helping employees feel seen and appreciated at work (Blueboard, The State of Workplace Connection Report, 2022). 
  • 38% of employers think attrition is due to compensation, but 54% of employees leave because they don’t feel valued, and 51% leave because they don’t feel a sense of belonging (McKinsey & Company).

So, there is a massive disconnect between what we know about recognition and its power and our ability to adequately make recognition part of our comms and employee experience strategies.

Challenges of Recognizing Deskless Employees

Although our struggles with showing appreciation impacts all workers, we especially struggle to recognize deskless employees.

Why is that?

Well, it starts with tools and access to information. Historically, investments in technology and programs have focused on deskbound office workers. However, frontline workers often lack access to comms tools, and frontline managers often lack the comms skills required to nurture, acknowledge, and develop their direct reports.

But you have a lot of power to shift the imbalance in your company. As you rethink your recognition and engagement programs, ensure that you include your frontline teams, especially training your frontline managers.

6 Ways to Recognize Employees

9 in 10 people would work for less money in exchange for more meaningful work, and that all starts with showing your employees you value them and their contributions.

Regardless of if you are starting a recognition program from scratch or are trying to improve an existing one, these six best practices will help you improve the quality and consistency of your frontline worker recognition.

Tip 1: Follow a Regular Cadence

Recognition that’s infrequent, exclusive, and on a set schedule (e.g. annual reviews) has a limited impact. We need to build recognition into our day-to-day, with managers taking the lead. 

One way to do that is to take advantage of shift meetings and one on ones. Any time a manager is preparing to meet with their team or an individual, they need to keep the contributions of their team members in mind and ingrain that into their talk track. Gallup consultants believe that weekly recognition is best because it allows managers to thank and celebrate accomplishments in a timely manner.

Tip 2: Add Deskless Employee Recognition To Existing Systems

Personalized recognition for everyone requires a strategic, thoughtful approach. Experts at Gartner recommend: 

  • Shift from annual or biannual performance reviews to continuous performance management. Not only will this help managers address any performance issues in real-time, it also provides more opportunities for discussing successes and strengths.
  • Invest in a talent management system that allows managers to document individual employee wins. Having a system where leaders can all document notes and praise in one place makes it easier to recall these highlights over time. 
  • Integrate performance into your learning management system. An important type of recognition that sometimes gets overlooked is investing in your people through upskilling and advancement. Make sure your LMS isn’t just used for onboarding and training on new procedures. Use it as a tool to track employee progress, give them chances to grow and improve, and recognize them for these efforts.

Tip 3: Make Recognition Targeted and Personalized

If everyone gets the same praise, it starts feeling like a one-size-fits-all sweater that doesn’t fit anyone. For recognition to make someone really feel appreciated you want to be as specific as possible.

Tip 4: Don’t Just “Check the Box”

If recognition is a box your people leaders check, it can seem forced or patronizing. We might fall into the habit of recognizing employees solely for things they already do well, rather than taking note of the new ways they’re challenging themselves or calling out something that you really think deserves to be acknowledged.

Tip 5: Mix Up Your Employee Appreciation Methods

Just like how you don’t want to recognize multiple people for the exact same thing over and over, the same thing goes for how you recognize your team. There are many forms of recognition to use: 

  • One-on-one praise
  • Public praise 
  • Monetary
  • Promotions 
  • Formal (e.g. an evaluation) and informal (a quick note at the end of the day)
  • Awards, commendations, or company swag 

It can even help to mix up who the recognition comes from. Gallup surveyed employees to learn who the most meaningful and memorable recognition they received came from and they found:

  • 28% said their direct manager 
  • 24% said the CEO
  • 12% said their manager’s manager 
  • 10% said a customer
  • 9% said a peer
  • 17% said it came from another source 

Tip 6: Tie Recognition to Your Values and Culture 

At the end of the day, deskless employee recognition is another way to strengthen company culture. Recognition reinforces desired behaviors. So, reward your deskless employees based on living your mission/values and contributing to a positive culture on their team.

Build Recognition Campaigns


Ready to take the next step? Start creating employee recognition campaigns that move the needle. If you need ideas to get you started, download our free guide to frontline worker recognition. 


About the Author

Sydney Lauro is the Demand Generation Manager for theEMPLOYEEapp. Prior to joining the team, Sydney worked in internal comms for Chipotle Mexican Grill. She users her internal comms expertise and passion for improving communication and EX to create content and share best practices to help other comms professionals.


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