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As we continue to meet the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all being asked to adjust to a “new normal” and face changes in the way we work, live and interact with each other. As we all become accustomed to new safety precautions, figure out how to engage with others virtually and adjust to new demands like homeschooling children, it’s a tough time for everyone, which is why it’s more important than ever for employees to know that they are appreciated.

Most managers understand that when employees feel their efforts are valued, they experience greater job satisfaction, higher levels of productivity and will likely stay in their position longer. But with remote working and a limited ability to socialize, showing appreciation may have to be done in new or expanded ways. Contractors such as Ruppert Landscape are feeling their way through these challenging times just like everyone else. The company has chosen to focus its efforts in several areas to ensure team members know Ruppert Landscape appreciates what they do to keep the company moving forward.

Communicate

One way to show employees they are valued and appreciated is to provide clarity and communicate often. Creating a sense of certainty for the team by keeping them in the loop and letting them know what challenges the company is facing is one way to demonstrate respect and inclusion and is invaluable when tensions are high. How companies share information with their team can take many forms—from one-on-one conversations and video messages from management to emails or text messages with subtitles or translations for non-English speakers. It’s about meeting team members where they are and engaging them in a format that will enable a connection.

Continue Existing Programs

Help instill a sense of normalcy by investing in employees’ growth and development, even when times are tough. If the company has recognition programs already in place be sure they don’t fall by the wayside. Continue to recognize the top sales performer, someone’s 20-year anniversary with the company or a birthday—even if it’s just a phone call or quick email.


While training may look a little different with location, attendee proximity and precautions, instilling a sense of normalcy and continuing to invest in employee development can send a strong message to employees that their continued growth and development matters.

Provide training for employees, in smaller altered formats if necessary. While Ruppert Landscape has continued to do some of its training inside in smaller groups using masks and proper social distancing, it has also increased training in the field to ensure team members are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to work safely and efficiently. And companies should do their best to deliver scheduled performance reviews that can provide valuable one-on-one time to talk about job-related and personal challenges an employee may be facing.

Encourage Camaraderie

A key factor that keeps people happy and engaged is when they feel good about where they work and the people they work with. By providing opportunities where team members can connect—whether that’s done virtually on a Zoom happy hour or outdoors at an appropriate social distance with masks—there are still creative ways that enable people to connect and feel they are valued and appreciated by their team members and the organization. It could be something as simple as having a refreshment truck come at the end of the day or bringing bagged lunches to a jobsite, to performing a feel-good community activity like cleaning up the grounds of a homeless shelter or packing lunches for the poor. Providing an opportunity for people to be together can create a stronger team bond and enable people to see and feel firsthand that they are valued by the organization and by their teammates.


In May, Ruppert Landscape's Richmond South Maintenance branch organized and delivered 100+ meals from Mission BBQ to health care workers at Johnston-Willis Hospital. This effort offered those on the front line a token of appreciation and enabled the Ruppert team to come together to plan and deliver these boxed meals.

Recognize Effort in the Face of Adversity

There’s likely not a person in the world who would say they didn’t appreciate it when someone went out of their way to thank them with a gift or reward them with a bonus. This is certainly a tried and true way to acknowledge someone’s contribution. In May 2020, Ruppert Landscape gave bonuses, along with a note of thanks from the company’s executive team, to its front-line, field-level employees for their continued service and perseverance during this critical time.


As a way of showing front line employees how much their efforts were appreciate during the COVID pandemic, Ruppert distributed bonus checks totaling $470,000 in May of this year.

But even when a monetary gesture isn’t possible, a thank you can take many forms from a quick phone call, a hand-written note or email, or something more all-encompassing like a letter from the company’s CEO to all employees or recognition on social media channels for a good deed that was done. Whatever the method, during times of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to be on the lookout for what is going well and to recognize and reward those efforts.

As most organizations have already figured out, having avenues in place to recognize, reward and value employees is a key component of building a healthy company. But in these critical times, it’s critically important for leaders to do whatever possible to communicate openly and often, provide opportunities for team bonding and recognize the efforts of employees. Appreciation can come in many forms—but it doesn’t have to be expensive or complex. Even the smallest of gestures can have the biggest of impacts.

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