Boosting Morale: 8 Creative Employee Recognition Ideas for Deskless Workers

Bryan Herijanto

Are you sifting through employee recognition ideas, and everything seems irrelevant or downright insulting because of how cheap and thoughtless the suggestions are? You may have stumbled upon a blog you’ll wish to bookmark!

This article is for all CEOs and HR leaders who want to express gratitude towards their deskless and frontline staff and show they appreciate their hard work. Lip service and snacks just won’t cut it anymore.

In this article, we’ll explain:

  • What are the actual, tangible benefits of investing in employee recognition for deskless workers;
  • The unique factors that make employee recognition different and how to overcome the ensuing challenges;
  • Eight employee recognition programs have ideas that vary in cost and effort needed, so you can pick some even if your budget is tight.

Benefits of employee recognition for deskless workers

Gallup partnered with Workhuman, and their study has revealed that proper employee recognition does wonders for the workplace: the burnout rates shrink, and the employees are less likely to abandon the ship and find new employers.

Employees who feel appreciated are more loyal, motivated, and productive — let’s expand on why below. ⬇️

A much-needed motivation boost

Frontline work (or as we call it: deskless work) can be exhausting, even for the most resilient of us. Burnout hits deskless workers hard. Many deskless workers are demotivated and only do the bare minimum to keep their jobs.

Sure, some of the exhaustion comes from inescapable realities like challenging customers and repetitive tasks, but there’s plenty of room for improvement in other areas. You can alleviate the everyday stress workers can’t escape with gestures of recognition and by having their back. Employee recognition tactics will motivate them to show up, stick around, and do better. 

Retention and loyalty enhancement

Constantly hiring, onboarding, and training new people has a much cheaper and stress-free alternative: employee recognition and appreciation.

High employee turnover rates can be effectively reduced by investing time into appreciating your workforce. Creating an environment where deskless workers feel valued and actively supported helps them power through difficult days. 

They might find a job at another workplace — but there’s no guarantee that another employer will recognize and reward their hard work. So that’s where you jump in as a breath of fresh air in a ruthless job market and position yourself as an employer that genuinely cares.

Positive impact on company culture

Fostering a great company culture will help you attract a high-quality workforce when the competition is intense, even when you can’t afford to increase salaries.

Employee recognition is an integral part of good company culture. A place where each employee is praised and held in high regard will flourish and make people more enthusiastic about their workweek. 

Using employee recognition as a building block of company culture creates a firm and lasting foundation for future success.

Factors to consider in employee recognition for deskless workers

The working environment wildly differs for frontline and deskless employees. 

Workers in industries such as hospitality, retail, warehousing, logistics, waste management, and transportation have different schedules and communication channels compared to their peers in office settings.

Many tactics you can apply to office work and desk-bound industries won’t work in this case. Naturally, any staff recognition ideas you develop must be adjusted to these working conditions.

Managing recognition programs for different worksites and schedules

Managing a deskless workforce means you’ll rarely have everyone present simultaneously — that’s the nature of shift work and handling multiple worksites simultaneously.

Juggling different shifts and scattered staff will make employee recognition somewhat complex.

The easiest way to make up for dispersed stuff is to digitize everything related to employee recognition. Choosing an employee engagement and recognition platform that’s easy to use can help you send and receive employee feedback on the go, post your monthly question for the team and learn what needs to be improved, or send kind words to someone who made a difference that day.

Resolving the communication barriers at their workplace

One of the main differences between office workers and a deskless workforce is the lack of a desk and desktop computer. This changes the nature and means of communication between frontline staff at the job site and higher-ups who aren’t in their proximity. 

Deskless workers often have minimal time to access the usual means of communication. The nature of their work makes it difficult to scroll through lengthy emails and threads.

The best way to overcome the communication barriers is to:

  • Ruthlessly streamline the messages you send during the busiest hours;
  • Provide easily accessible communication tools — mobile phones will suffice;
  • Create separated channels for messages that require immediate attention and for the ones that can wait a bit;
  • Create an atmosphere of honesty and trust so the feedback you get from staff is genuine and amounts to creating better working conditions for everyone.

8 Creative employee recognition ideas for the deskless workforce

Now onto something tangible for you to try out!

Below you will find eight creative employee recognition ideas to make your deskless workforce feel appreciated and their efforts recognized.

1. Introduce mobile apps for instant appreciation.

Mercu has plenty of employee recognition program ideas for you to choose from. Create your own, or take a pick from a rich, built-in template base. For example, use our employee of the month template to recognize team members that have gone the extra mile.

The best thing? Your employees will receive everything via brief and engaging Whatsapp messages. It only takes a few seconds to glance at their phones and get the info wherever they are!

Using Mercu will help you resolve the communication and separation issues mentioned above. You can also conduct monthly pulse checks with engagement surveys, hire, onboard, and efficiently train your deskless workforce.

2. Reward them with extra paid time off (PTO)

Having some time off to rest, relax, and have fun is one of the most popular workplace perks and an excellent motivator for the workforce across industries.

There are plenty of cases where additional PTO works well as a reward:

  • For each year spent with the company;
  • To celebrate birthdays;
  • Once quarterly, if all the quarterly KPI targets and goals are reached;
  • Upon completing a challenging task;
  • At the end of an incredibly tiring period (for retail workers, think of events such as 11/11 or other holidays).

Extra PTO can come in many forms: longer daily breaks, shorter workdays, 4-day workweeks, or unlimited vacation policies.

Before you make anything public, make the rules about getting these PTO awards transparent and fair for everyone. Also, make sure you have enough resources to support awarding people with PTO and that you’re compliant with labour laws that apply to your location.

3. Encourage peer recognition at the workplace

Receiving praise from superiors and managers is an excellent mood and confidence booster. However, an acknowledgement that comes from peers is truly special. 

You should encourage and facilitate peer recognition as a part of your company culture efforts. Peer recognition is a simple tactic with plenty of benefits:

  • Improves workplace relationships;
  • Builds trust among coworkers;
  • Boosts mood and confidence;
  • Promotes teamwork and cooperation.

You can easily adjust team recognition ideas to your workplace's schedule and preferences: weekly, monthly, project-based, anonymous or public, digital or in-person. The simplest way is to install a bulletin board where employees can post kind notes. You can also take a modern route via Whatsapp or Slack channels — whichever suits their needs better.

4. Celebrate milestones and work anniversaries

In the era of frequent job-hopping, show that you care about your loyal workforce and everything they do.

Most large companies opt for a company-wide shoutout to the employee, with public praise and a delicious cake on site. Monetary awards, special perks, privileges, company shares — there are plenty of ways to celebrate essential work anniversaries to reduce employee turnover.

5. Offer skill development courses and education.

Helping your workers grow alongside the company is one of the best employee recognition tactics. 

Employees who actively gain more than a mere salary are less likely to leave you for a competitor. You can hand-pick and introduce them to high-quality courses related to their field or award them paid access to something they’ve dreamed about. Udemy, Domestica, and Skillshare are full of great lessons and relevant resources to topics ranging from conflict resolution and customer success all the way to hard engineering skills.

6. Show that you care about their families, too

Extending your recognition efforts to workers’ families is a gesture that makes them feel appreciated and appreciated for their job.

Some of the best and most valuable ways to recognise employees for their hard work are subsidising childcare costs and extending health insurance cover to their immediate family (next of kin). 

If you're looking for more cost-effective ideas, try vacation allowances, sponsored family events, or pet care!

7. Provide catering or meal delivery on job sites

Sometimes, the workplace conditions won’t allow your workforce to bring and store healthy and tasty meals or even sit down and eat them comfortably. 

To prevent your workers from becoming hungry, exhausted, and unhealthy, hire a catering service that can provide your staff with fresh food at their work site. This doesn't have to drain the bank and can be a monthly event.

Whether you pick delivery or hire a food truck, providing workers with a solid variety of food is a substantial perk your deskless workers will definitely appreciate.

8. Organize a wellness day

Helping your employees rest and nourish their bodies will make them feel well cared for. 

Depending on what impacts your workforce the most, pick a treatment you know will make them feel good. For frontline workers working on their feet, a massage and a pedicure are a god-send!

You can hand out free treatment coupons, reimburse them for a wellness activity/program of their choice, or create a team-bonding experience at a fancy wellness and spa facility.

Your workforce is mobile. Your tools should be too.

In a sea of existing tools that aren’t built to solve your deskless workforce problems, Mercu is the exception. Automate enablement with a chat-based platform that gets results.