5 Big trends in employee recognition
Employee Engagement

Jun 17, 2021

5 Big trends in employee recognition

Positive workplace cultures have the power to increase productivity, morale, and efficiency whilst reducing turnover.

The pandemic has been challenging both for employers and employees alike, yet workers who feel rewarded are more likely to face the obstacles caused by remote work (such as burnout and digital fatigue), remaining proactive and focused.

Through the right incentives and demonstrations of appreciation, employees are more likely to feel valued and proud to embrace their work culture.

Here are the Top 5 Strategies (popular in different industries) to help workers continue to move things forward during the good and hard times.

1. Personalisation

Covid-19 accelerated some behavioural changes, and one of them, personalisation (the act of tailoring an experience to suit an individual's requirements), relates to the workplace.

An example of personalisation is remote work. After all, it attends to individuals' needs. Luckily, it doesn't harm any business goals. Instead, it increases productivity by 47%, according to a recent survey.

Streaming services (Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime) and social media (Facebook, Twitter, TikTok) already provide their customers with a tailored experience. It won't be surprising if personalisation becomes more common in the workplace, especially after the pandemic.

Gen-Z and Millennials are very likely to enjoy this more individualistic approach since they prefer personalised experiences (e.g. ads, content). So why not adopt this tactic to attract and retain these demographic groups? Ultimately, they contribute to the workplace with their tech-savvy, progressive, creative, and fast-paced behaviour.

Companies can do a few things (apart from allowing for flexible location or hours) to invest in personalisation.

First, businesses must know their employees. Ideally, organisations would take the time to understand what's important to them. To do it successfully, they can consider creating ''employee profiles,'' separating them into segments according to their needs and goals.

Second, employers must define how to reward workers and what's needed to meet targets and gain benefits. Managers have to keep in mind the need to align the business goals with the employees' objectives.

Finally, employers should consider the current employee experience and ask themselves: What do I want my employees to experience? Does it align with the company philosophy?

These things will help foster the ideal company culture, more satisfied employees, a more appealing brand, and perhaps give people some sense of belonging.

2. Gamification

The name of this strategy may give you a clue of what this term means. Gamification is the idea of implementing game elements in non-game contexts (e.g., companies, policies, fashion ads, and classroom environments).

Isn't it nice when, after traveling frequently, you get to switch your miles for an upgrade (e.g., business class to first class) or even grab yourself a "free" ticket to go anywhere you may like? The gamification system allows employees to do it similarly, but instead of being rewarded for multiple travels, they're recognised for their efforts and achievements over time.

The incorporation of gamification in work environments is certainly a trend to bear in mind. More than 400 multinational companies like Google, Microsoft, Formaposte, and Domino's have already adopted this strategy to grow workplace productivity.

If used properly, such a strategy can improve employee engagement, increase their motivation to reach business goals, and turn usual tedious tasks into a fun experience.

Gamification stands out among other types of strategies for being a very personal way of recognising other people's efforts. It may feel less "biased" than some approaches (like being selected by the manager to gain a bonus) since the rules to achieve its benefits (e.g., days off due to constant productivity) are valid for all the staff.

Josh Braaten, CEO and co-founder of Brandata, explained why he adopted this strategy: "The gamification platform we used allowed people to be appreciated in a way that was most meaningful to each individual."

Workers know they contributed significantly (reaching goals) to enjoy the benefits of gamification. The reward feels fair for employees and fantastic for employers, as they can see their company goals met quicker.

3. Power of Choice

It's no secret that people like to feel they're in control of their lives. Undoubtedly, during the pandemic, more people reflected on what matters to them (e.g., family, hobbies, health), and now more than ever, they feel the need to find time do the things that they love, as ''life is too short.''

According to a sustainability report, 70% of workers said it was more probable for them to work at a place with a strong environmental agenda. Therefore, they would likely prefer to stay at home at least twice a week to help to reduce the pollution generated by commuting.

Companies can be flexible, allowing them to work remotely if they choose to, as a way to demonstrate that they understand their eco-friendly values.

Some businesses have already switched to long-term remote work. Others like Microsoft adopted hybrid models, which allow workers to stay at home some days and spend other days on-site. Finally, some, like Spotify, allowed employees to choose whatever approach would be best for them.

4. Enabling peer-to-peer recognition

Everyone likes to be appreciated by their managers. But, they are not the only ones who can give workers a sense of accomplishment. Co-workers can be great motivators.

Think about it: peers constantly work on the same or similar tasks. They know the difficulties faced, the feeling of success after delivering work on a tight deadline, the daily struggles, the limitations, and workplace resourcefulness.

Peer-to-peer recognition can help boost morale, bring a sense of togetherness, and a positive work environment.

While companies may underrate such recognition, it is considered highly effective in encouraging an employee to repeat the action that earned them the acknowledgment by the peer, according to studies.

5. Employee Recognition

Recognition from managers, or none at all, impacts performance and the work environment culture, according to research.

While career growth and development like promotions and pay raises are relevant to keep an employee satisfied, recognition is key to retaining workers within businesses.

Companies go through significant changes. Employee recognition allows people to feel appreciated, good at their job and helps them navigate transitions in their workplace.

Also, it makes them feel stable and motivated to keep doing a great job. Without this measure, inefficient work and costly turnover are more likely to take place.

Businesses may tend to reward those who stand out for their work. In a way, this is fantastic, as it motivates them to remain productive and stay loyal. However, it is crucial to recognise the achievements of more than just top performers.

Those employees that act by the company values deserve acknowledgment too. After all, they managed to embrace a working culture that perhaps wasn't even theirs. They are open to new ideas, and their "adaptability" is an asset for any company.

Most leaders are aware of the positive effect of employee recognition. They know it boosts morale and performance. Yet, it's up to businesses to train those in leadership roles to learn how to recognise others.

You may ask: What can companies do to adopt this strategy then? Well, there are options to choose from: managers can give a worker a day off to let them explore their hobbies; the "employee of the month" can win a gift card; and the highest-performing group (e.g., marketing, HR) in the quarter can be offered a chance to experience on-site mindfulness classes.

Ultimately, it benefits both parties: the employer and the employee.

Key Points

Companies can entirely stick to Covid-19 trends (remote work) or go back to how things were (on-site office daily).

Alternatively, they may decide to adopt a blended measure to give employees some flexibility and power over their own decisions. People like to feel in control of their life and choices.

Managers must show appreciation. Employee recognition is essential for a productive, efficient, and positive work environment.

Companies must find suitable ways to reward workers for their hard work, adaptability, and achievement of milestones. If possible, allow individuals to choose how to be recognized (e.g., a bonus, a day off, a gym discount). Such action will help them feel valued and more likely to stick for longer.

Watch out for gamification. This trend, which took over the fashion industry recently (and brands such as Balenciaga and Burberry), is likely to stay.

With this strategy, employees will have an incentive to be productive and enjoy themselves while working.

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