A four-year-long study in the U.S. which surveyed over 130,000 employees has noted how remote workers value recognition, as does the general working population as a whole.

The in-depth research, carried out by relationship and business psychologist Paul White, found that a third of employees who tended to work away from the workplace or base preferred to be rewarded for their efforts with ‘written or oral words of affirmation’.

In fact, positive recognition was the most desired reward for both off-site and on-site staff, far ahead of quality time (35% and 25% respectively), acts of service (19% and 22%) and tangible gifts (7% and 6%).

The study aimed to show a direct connection between motivation and perceived appreciation, with White stating that ‘employers must be more proactive about finding the most effective communication of appreciation for remote workers’.

Why this study matters

This study is particularly important because it hones in on the wants and need of those working away from an office, whilst still also highlighting the overall trend that is employees want to be recognised for their good work.

Recognition is nothing new for HR managers and leaders within the workforce. It’s been an important string to the motivation bow for many decades. But it’s only more recently that uptake in recognition techniques to really drive an on-site engagement strategy as a primary motivation and productivity tool has been enacted.

But effectively managing a recognition strategy when incorporating a remote workforce has always been a challenge. First, it can be difficult to see the small wins and extra effort an off-site employee has put in. Only the end result tends to be recognised as an expected deliverable. Second, how is that employee recognition delivered? And how can businesses ensure a remote worker is as engaged as those working on-site?

But this is an issue that HR heads are going to have to get to grips with, and reasonably soon too. Research has shown that millennials, the now largest generation in the current workforce, value the offering of flexible working – including the ability to work from home and remotely in general on occasion. In fact, three in four said they’d consider leaving a current position for one which offered the above as a potential booster to their work-life balance.

Employee recognition and engagement is certainly the solution. However, the execution of such so it benefits all employees on the books is what businesses really need to consider.