How Business Owners Are Rewarding Top-Performing Remote Workers

Communicating to your high-performing remote workers that their contributions are valued and appreciated is easy and doesn't have to cost much.

by Marcia Layton Turner
updated May 02, 2022 ·  3min read

One of the biggest determinants of an employee's tenure with an organization is recognition, or feeling valued and appreciated.

According to research conducted by SurveyMonkey and Bonusly, 82% of employees reported being happier when recognized at work. Similarly, 63% of employees who were “always" or “usually" recognized were “very unlikely" to be looking for a new job in the near future.

That is, they were much more likely to stay where they are. That's a big win if you're interested in holding onto your top-performing team members.


As more organizations shift to a remote work environment with little to no in-person interaction, the chance for employees to feel disconnected, or even forgotten, is much higher. Without regular face-to-face conversations or meetings, workers can begin to feel invisible. Fortunately, you can take steps to let your remote employees know that their work is noticed and appreciated.

Employee rewards can and should take a variety of forms, and they don't necessarily have to cost you anything. Consider the following:

  • Public praise. “While monetary and concrete rewards can give people a boost, one of the most important rewards that we often forget about is verbal recognition and praise," says Allison Holzer, co-CEO and chief innovation officer at InspireCorps. “Some teams and organizations are building time into their huddles and/or creating virtual inspiration boards or shared documents where they can shout out each other's strengths." Applaud good work far and wide.
  • Increased authority. Another free but extremely effective tactic is rewarding top performers by giving them more authority, says Lou Cysewski, founder of Coolperx. Giving employees “more authority to make decisions, and using their ideas, even if their ideas are not what I was initially looking for," makes them feel more engaged and empowered, she says.
  • Delivered meals. “Sending a meal through Door Dash or GrubHub can be a great way to brighten someone's day," Holzer says. You could buy everyone in the company lunch, delivered on the same day to your geographically diverse crew, for example, or send a gift card for an employee to enjoy over the weekend. Kyle Mitnick, founder and president of Advertise Purple, provides employees with two meals a week via a meal-delivery service.
  • Home services. Hani Goldstein, co-founder and CEO of Snappy Gifts, an online platform that helps companies send employees gifts, reports that among the most popular this year have been iRobot Roombas, laptop desks, Fire 7 tablets, and AirPods Pro. Some companies are even splurging on Peloton bikes for their employees! Cysewski is giving her remote workers a cool gift: the Lexon Oblio—a stylish UVC-LED sanitizing phone charger.
  • Choose-your-own gift. “Due to lack of personal connection right now, we're finding that more personal rewards are appreciated,"Holzer says. "For example, Loop & Tie is a company that allows the recipient to choose the gift most likely to inspire them." Letting employees choose their own reward, rather than trying to choose something for them, builds in personalization that many people appreciate.
  • Company swag. Gifts don't have to be extravagant and can even consist of products emblazoned with your company's name or logo. Coffee mugs, water bottles, pens, shirts, and caps are among the most common company trinkets. Mitnick sends Advertise Purple's remote workers company swag to help keep them connected to the organization.
  • Cold hard cash. Although remote workers don't have a long a commute to work, and their dry-cleaning bills are probably lower, it's possible that other bills have risen. Recognizing this, Mitnick gives each remote worker “a monthly stipend to help with internet bills."

Above all, frequent communication and check-ins demonstrate your interest in and concern for your best-performing team members, even if they're currently working remotely. But thoughtful gifts can brighten their day and boost engagement in one fell swoop.

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Marcia Layton Turner

About the Author

Marcia Layton Turner

​Marcia Layton Turner writes regularly about small business and real estate. Her work has appeared in Entrepreneur, Bu… Read more

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