“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle.
Reward and recognition have changed immensely over the last 20 or so years. As the Baby Boomers and Generation X begin leaving the workforce, special considerations need to be taken into account to accommodate Generation Y otherwise known as the Millennials.
Recognition can be seen as the acknowledgement of an employee for behaviours, effort and high quality deliverables. It can be viewed as a feeling or a sense of pride. Reward on the other hand is much more tangible.
There are some major changes in the workforce that necessitates reward and recognition being a core business functions. Examples are the need to retain talent within a company, recruiting top-performing employees and emerging technologies.
Reward and recognition programmes have been linked to increases in engagement, productivity, retention, customer service and morale.
Some of the major trends, in the changing world of reward and recognition are:
- Peer-to-peer recognition is on the rise: Although all praise is valued, it is not necessarily created equal. Peer recognition can be viewed as the ultimate recognition and leads to a more cohesive and high-achieving team. Technology has created the perfect platform for this to increasingly occur. Peer-to-peer recognition can occur through acts as simple as status updates or words of praise on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook). Forty-one percent of companies that employ peer-to-peer recognition strategies have seen positive increases in customer satisfaction.
- Recognition is becoming more specific, personal and varied: According to the IRF 2017 Trends Study’s results, the number of US businesses using non-cash rewards has risen from 26% in 1996 to 84% in 2016. In the past, employees received generic recognition, such as a Gold watch for your 10th year of service in a company. Employers are now assessing what employees find valuable and is offering a choice of a wide variety of rewards. This is likely to increase motivation, because a reward to one person might not mean the same as another. Examples of these types of rewards are incentive travel (nearly 40% of US businesses now use incentive travel to reward and recognise employees); training & development; lifestyle rewards and time off.
- Employee Recognition & Rewards are becoming more continuous, spontaneous and informal: Previously, employers dedicated a specific event to the recognition of employees. This would typically occur once or twice a year. By engaging in a formal recognition event, fewer employees are recognised due to the very strict requirements. It is now understood that frequent recognition is more effective than intermittent recognition. Continuous recognition is provided in order to continuously reinforce desired behaviours. Employees are now being acknowledged on a day-to-day basis by their managers. This type of immediate recognition is important to consider in a world where changes are rapid and always happening.
- The New Role of Technology: Emerging technologies are being integrated into recognition and incentive programmes to keep pace with the technologies that employees utilise in their day-to-day lives. This has become a result of the fact that Millenials are very engaged with technology and expect to find it in the workplace. With increasing accessibility, devices such as Google Cardboard Virtual Reality is becoming a platform for communication in reward and recognition programmes. The use of social media, as discussed previously, is expanding reward and recognition programmes immensely. These programmes are increasingly using technology tools to personalise employee experiences by creating profiles.
- The changing face of gamification: Gamification is not a new phenomenon in reward and recognition programmes, however it is being increasingly utilised. The main reason for this is the evolution of technology and the availability of new platforms of showcasing game mechanics. Previously, gamification was used to motivate employees through competitiveness. Now it is understood that when gamification is implemented correctly it can substantially increase employee engagement. Gamification makes employee recognition programs more engaging because it taps into the drivers of human behaviour. Gamification provides employees with motivation, ability to carry out a task and a driver for completion. It provides real-time instantaneous feedback and progress of goals. Gamification has been likened to a Fitbit for work. The worldwide gamification market grew from $242 million in 2012 to $2.8 billion in 2016.
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