Financial rewards, time off, recognition, or professional development — what is the best way to reward a team member you appreciate? While the rewards are obvious, the process itself deserves a second thought.

A work culture that appreciates and recognizes team members’ efforts is a winning culture. Rewards for virtual teams show that the work matters, it was well done, and it met an important goal. Any of the above virtual team reward examples improve team trust and motivation. But to really answer the question of how to reward virtual teams, positive reinforcement needs to demonstrate a sense of achievement, accomplishment, and purpose.  

In this blog post, we will consider the best ways to reward virtual teams, why it is important to reward teams based on effort and merit, and what key reward principles you need to follow to ensure excellent virtual leadership. 

Watch the video to learn more about how to reward virtual teams:

Leadership Principles for Rewarding Virtual Teams

Rewarding virtual team members can be tricky as much is lost in the lack of face-to-face contact. That doesn’t mean you should forget about creating an effective digital reward system. As long as you are open and principled about it from the start, you will attract team members who speak your reward language and understand why and how to perform to grow as employees, which in turn, grows your business. 

  • Fairness. Workplace fairness is the skill of a leader that respects others’ opinions, does not make unilateral decisions, communicates honestly, and follows through on the agreed with consistency and integrity.
  • Equity. Equitable leaders ensure employees have equal access to resources and opportunities for development.  
  • Transparency. A transparent reward system is based on sharing, collaboration, and public recognition.  
  • Balance. To achieve balance when rewarding remote employees, you need a digital tracking system that considers both effort (willingness to do the work) with merit (performance+results)
  • Objectivity. Objective-focused leadership clearly defines business goals to help employees perform effectively without wasting effort.

One of the biggest downfalls for a business is to reward solely on effort. You can end up wasting tens of hours per week and still fail to achieve results. However, effort is important and here is how. 

Effort — What is it and Why it Matters

Effort is difficult to quantify. However, you can observe it through actions and attitude. Therefore, if you want to establish an effort-based reward system, it is crucial to define the actions and attitude that constitutes effort at work:   

  1. Dedicating extra time to complete a task or project
  2. Going beyond the defined role and taking on additional responsibilities 
  3. A habit of meeting and exceeding expectations
  4. Presenting a can-do attitude accompanied by a strong work ethic
  5. Taking initiative to find new ways to improve processes and achieve goals
  6. Showing flexibility and adaptability during challenging and stressful situations
  7. Being proactive to learn new skills, grow and develop

Effort is a key factor in achieving success, as it represents the willingness and determination to put in the work required to achieve a goal.

Merit: How to Define it and Use it to Reward Remote Teams 

Merit includes the work qualities or achievements of a team member that make them deserving of recognition or reward. Unlike effort, merit is result-oriented and generally based on an individual’s performance or results. What are some examples of actions that demonstrate merit at work?

  1. Meeting or exceeding performance targets or goals
  2. Producing high-quality work day by day
  3. Making significant contributions to the team or the project
  4. Displaying strong and diverse leadership skills
  5. Encouraging, motivating, and influencing others

When rewarding team members based on merit, it is important to take into account their overall performance and achievements, and not just one specific aspect of their work. This will help to build trust and motivation among team members and ensure that rewards are given to those who truly deserve them.

How to Reward Virtual Teams: Effort & Merit Synthesis

Rewarding team members based on merit and effort can be done by using a combination of performance metrics and subjective evaluations. Here are a few steps to consider:

1. Define clear performance metrics:

Identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with the team and organizational goals. These should be measurable and objective, such as sales figures, customer satisfaction scores, or project completion rates.

2. Evaluate performance regularly:

Regularly assess how team members are performing against the defined KPIs. This can be done through one-on-one meetings, goal-tracking apps, asynchronous checkups, or other forms of feedback.

3. Provide feedback:

Share feedback with team members on their performance, both positive and constructive. This will help them understand what they are doing well and where they can improve. 

4. Create a reward-based system on performance (effort + merit):

Use the performance metrics and evaluations to determine how to reward team members. Rewards should be proportional to the level of performance and clearly define what behaviors, actions, and attitude are required to get rewarded.

5. Communicate the rewards and recognition:

Ensure that rewards and recognition are communicated clearly to all team members, so they understand how they can earn them.

Although merit is universally considered the number one factor important for business goal achievement and team recognition, effort also matters as an indicator of determination and growth.

If you want to increase the productivity of your team (without increasing workload and stress) using systems, freelancers, and AI, this will become the biggest reward for your team.

We’ve created a full training on how to achieve that. Click below to sign up now for free:

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