Recognition Professionals International strives to stay on top of the latest trends in employee recognition and engagement. Some of our leaders and other experts shared their thoughts on what actions will lead to success in 2020. Leadership attention on six trends will help keep your organization’s recognition strategy on target in the coming year.
The Wholistic Recognition Program
“Companies are taking a hard look at what they are recognizing — and more and more, they are taking a more wholistic approach to their programs,” says R. Scott Russell, CRP, CEP, Director – Engagement Strategies at C.A. Short Company. “An organization that once only recognized performance is now recognizing wellness, performance and safety — tying all three areas together into a well-planned and strategic initiative. In some instances, organizations are even recognizing employees for community involvement and volunteerism. Companies are learning how to utilize their platforms and vendors to create an atmosphere of appreciation and overlapping areas of engagement.
A Focus on Wholistic Wellness
It is crucial to focus on employee wellness when creating an engaged workplace, but it is so much more than just physical health. Employees are more engaged when their emotional and mental needs are met, and they can see their work as beneficial to their health. R. Scott Russell says, “While wellness and recognition have been partnered trends for some time, we are now seeing this as a bigger factor in the marketplace.”
A 2018 study by Gallup found that 54% of disengaged employees believe that their work has a negative impact on their health. However, 62% of engaged employees believe that their work has a positive impact on their health. As you can see, wellness and engagement go hand-in-hand, and wellness has the potential to change employees’ attitudes toward their work.
According to Forbes contributor and Total Wellness founder Alan Kohll, wholistic wellness can be achieved by fostering a positive community in the workplace. This might include creating health-oriented habits together or participating in challenges. Caring for employees’ wellness makes them feel important to the team and creates more positivity.
A Virgin Pulse survey found that 85% of companies believe their wellness programs fostered engagement. When employees are healthier and happier, they are more motivated and more willing to see work as beneficial to their own lives.
Quality Performance Feedback
The effectiveness of annual performance reviews has often been debated, making employers wonder if they are worth the effort. However, when properly conducted, performance meetings can motivate your employees and help you improve, too.
James R. Bailey, professor of leadership at the George Washington School of Business, encourages leaders to give feedback the way that they would want to receive it. This can be done by using specific examples and ending on a positive note. Theresa Harkins-Schulz, SPHR, CCP, CRP, senior VP of Customer Experience at Inspirus, says, “Don’t just share feedback, ask how you can help. Seek their feedback and thank them for sharing.”
According to Erika Rasure, assistant professor of Business and Financial Services at Maryville University, annual reviews should not be the only time your employees receive feedback. Informal check-ins set a consistent tone and set expectations, allowing employees to feel more comfortable and confident in the work they are doing.
According to Business News Daily writer Kiely Kuligowski, feedback sessions also open up space for your employees to give you feedback and help you see what is and is not working in the workplace. This shows that the employee’s opinion is valued and important to your mission as a company.
Social Media Recognition and Integration
Millennials now make up the largest share of the workforce, and Gen-Z is already starting to arrive in offices all over the world. Many Gen-Z employees do not even remember a world without social media. For them, it is a natural way to communicate, and embracing it will help you motivate your new generation of employees.
Stephen Baer, Forbes contributor and head of Creative Strategy and Innovation at the Game Industry, explains that social media fosters collaboration. For example, the office of Volkswagen Ireland has about 195 employees that began using Workplace, a social media platform created by Facebook. After using the platform, the company reported greater efficiency and fewer emails.
John O’Brien, vice president of Employee Performance at BI Worldwide, explains that these generations value recognition through social media. In an increasingly mobile and flexible workforce, social media is a great way to show appreciation to your employees.
Contrary to popular belief, monetary rewards are not as satisfying as other employee rewards. In RPI’s 2019 virtual conference, Dr. Brad Shuck explained the difference between the should-self versus the want-self. If you give an employee a cash bonus, their should-self will likely want to use that bonus for something practical such as gas or groceries instead of something they want. Dr. Shuck encourages employers to think outside the box and give employees something that will bring more joy.
John O’Brien of BI Worldwide explains that giving employees experiences like cooking classes or movie passes is far more effective than cash bonuses — you are giving them a memory to treasure. R. Scott Russell adds, “It’s not only the Millennial generation that values experiences over product; others have come on board to support this emerging trend in recognition. Experiential award options are now the norm in any great recognition program.”
Dina Gerdeman, writer for Forbes India, says employees want to feel appreciated by their managers. Allowing them the flexibility to work at home, giving them a gift card to their favorite restaurant or just a genuine thank-you are all ways to make your employee feel appreciated and motivated.
It Starts at the Top
Theresa Harkins-Schulz emphasizes the importance of top leaders in enriching the employee experience. “Candidates and employees want to understand a company’s purpose and how they will make an impact on the world with their product and service. Today’s employees look for authentic leaders who listen and seek ways to share wisdom and connect employees with opportunities to learn and grow.”
Access to Dr. Brad Shuck’s session from the 2019 RPI Virtual Conference is available for purchase in the RPI Learning Center.
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