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Only weeks ago, optimism colored the air as corporate America looked ahead into 2022: a year that would finally catapult the workplace into a state of normalcy. Now, the extremely contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus is forcing many companies to scramble in reconsideration.
According to a recent survey from Gartner, 44 percent of companies have pushed their reopening plans, and 27 percent of executives said they were delaying reopening plans or closing recently reopened workplaces. 17 percent said they were decreasing the total number of workers allowed on-site at a time.
“Employers are now realizing it’s not feasible to return employees during yet another surge in the infection,” says Dr. Neal Mills, a chief medical officer at consulting services company Aon.
Apple and Google recently told workers that they are delaying their respective return to the office indefinitely. Meta and Lyft, in the meantime, are letting workers choose to delay their return dates when offices formally reopen in 2022. Ford similarly announced plans to delay returning for salaried workers. Over the past weekend, major news companies like CNN closed their offices to employees who could work remotely.
Even executives at financial companies who threatened employees for not returning to work are reconsidering their remote work policy. Citigroup and Morgan Stanley eased up on their in-person work approaches, and JPMorgan Chase told their workers they could work from home until the end of the year.
“These return-to-office dates are now history,” declared Nick Bloom, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business who researches remote work. “Everything is completely off.”
But the future of remote working looks a lot different than it did 21 months ago. While there are several benefits of working remotely, and hybrid work models are considered to be sustainable, employees are feeling exhausted from this emotional whiplash.
Therapists around the country are finding themselves in the midst of a mental health crisis, with new clients seeking therapy for the first time for anxiety, stress, and job worries. New studies show that work stress is further hampering performance during COVID-19, necessitating an increased demand for healthy work culture.
At SmartGift, we innately understand how stressful aspects of work environments and lack of company support can lead to job strains and hamper performance. With offices forced to reconsider return-to-office plans, businesses need to adapt now to reduce growing pains for the future.
This is why we created Hero — the ultimate corporate gifting platform for employee and client appreciation. Our team worked hard to perfect a corporate gift experience that recognizes and motivates employees, reduces turnover, highlights virtual hospitality, and strengthens professional relationships.
Now, more than ever before, it’s imperative that remote workers feel happy and supported at work throughout the year. Remember: recognized employees are productive employees.
To help businesses retain talent, maximize productivity, and win new business, here are four recognition strategies that promote a healthy company culture year-round.
According to a recent O.C. Tanner study, 40 percent of employees find the recognition they receive at work feels like an empty gesture.
Good corporate gifts present an opportunity to connect with the employee, to think of their personal tastes, needs and wants; to ensure employees that the company values them. 2021 has blurred the distinction between home and office, and any gift employers choose to send needs to be mindful of that shift, factoring in employee’s families as well.
While it might be tempting and easy to send the same stock reward to all your employees, it’s important to consider what that strategy might signal to your recipient.
To maintain a healthy corporate culture, it’s important that your recognition gift demonstrates thoughtfulness. Put simply: if it could belong in the office break room, don’t send it.
At Hero, our mission is simple: to prioritize recipients in the process of selecting gifts of recognition. Our platform enables users to curate a collection from our assortment of products, or select a pre-made collection — and lets our Gift Genome™ make data-backed smart recommendations for them. Recipients can then choose a gift that sparks most meaning for them, ensuring the gesture doesn’t go wasted.
As COVID-19 brought in-person events to a pause in 2020, many businesses had to reimagine meetings and events as they transitioned online. Bringing events to a virtual platform seemed easy enough at first: lower travel costs, fewer organizational expenses such as bringing on a sound team and more speakers to connect people. But most companies had yet to figure out their virtual event strategies.
Now, as virtual events have grown to occupy a firm place in our landscape (68 percent of organizations across the globe agree that virtual events will be a more significant part of in-person events in the future), it’s time to think about creating more cohesive and robust virtual events to engage attendees.
Whether companies are hosting team-wide meetings, holiday parties, trade conferences, or engaging with prospective clients, it’s vital to inject hospitality and recreate some of the impactful creature comforts of in-person gatherings. This could mean digitally gifting a box of cookies, a gourmet meal, or a thoughtful corporate swag bag.
Hero recognizes that virtual meetings and events are here to stay, which is why we prize virtual hospitality. Our platform is designed to provide a high-quality uniform gifting experience that delights recipients virtually by recreating in-person interactions.
Furthermore, our unique features allow users to share business gifts with any number of people at once, bringing welcomed warmth to virtual events, meetings, and company parties through Slack channels, Microsoft Teams, Google Meets, or even Zoom calls. Employers simply need to specify the number of recipients for the event; add products, swag, and customizations — then they can share the link however they like!
Once recipients receive their gifts, they can read the company’s greetings, and virtually unwrap the gift on their device whenever they find convenient. With Hero, it’s easy to add a personal touch to virtual events with just a single, shareable link.
With the rising popularity of hybrid work schedules and part time remote work, it’s easy for important moments to go unnoticed. While it’s important to celebrate new business and monetary accomplishments, it’s necessary to recognize professional contacts throughout the year — and not just for closing deals around the six week stretch of winter holidays.
“Plenty of managers choose not to make it a priority, either because they’re too busy themselves or because they simply don’t understand why it’s so vital to a thriving workplace,” writes William Craig for Forbes.
At Hero, we understand that a healthy work culture necessitates a year-round corporate gift calendar. This is why our platform has multiple steps in place to accommodate year-round gifting — including specially curated product collections for all occasions, from get-well-soon packages to birthdays and anniversaries.
Additionally, Hero lets users automate gifting for occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and special observances, so employers can sit back and relax as their scheduling needs are taken care of.
Remote work opportunities come with emotional stressors that can chip away at company culture. Our aim is to add more value to each point of communication, and ensure that every gift is representative of your company’s business values throughout the year.
Remember: sending an end-of-year holiday gift is a start, but it is only the baseline for employee recognition. Year-round recognition helps employers retain top talent, increase employee engagement, and encourage high performance.
Before the pandemic, the majority of the American workforce was operating from a brick-and-mortar office space, where they had the privilege to socialize with facetime: at cafeterias, office desks, meetings, and events. The rise of remote work from home has since changed dependable work communication, putting a strain on remote team members and the bonds they once shared with their colleagues.
Keeping virtual teams aligned with company culture is essential, and has the potential to threaten overall productivity if glimpsed over. Done right, team-building can reinforce employee morale, strengthen team connections, and maximize productivity.
While virtual happy hours offered a fun, interactive activity at first, many employees find they’ve grown to feel like just another social obligation. To enhance work culture virtually, it’s crucial for the workplace to build excitement surrounding team-building activities.
At Hero, we deeply understand the importance of productivity, which is why we aim to provide your team with the best remote working tools. Our platform is designed to provide a fresh, multidimensional digital experience that offers innovative ways to inject excitement into team-building activities with virtual gift exchanges.
Whether employees make a game of it, or employers utilize the gifting of meals during Lunch and Learns, it’s a successful collaboration tool that promotes unity and is worth showing up for.
The new year presents a fresh start. Let’s reinforce a positive work culture and build a healthier team together.
Check out the SmartGift platform and request a demo for Hero here.
SmartGift’s Corporate Gifting Series focuses on providing workplaces fun, inventive, and appropriate ways to celebrate all end-of-year holidays. Over the forthcoming weeks, we’ll be discussing ideas for remote work best practices, corporate holiday parties, gifting etiquette, DE&I initiatives, gifting trends, and more.