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Hot Trends in Rewards and Recognition

Hot Trends in
Rewards and

Blog Post

2019 promises more personalization, requires agility


Mark Keeton, Vice President
Solution Management

What happens in your company after you’ve worked there for five years? 10? 25? In many of today’s modern workplaces, companies still honor longevity in their rewards and recognition while disregarding the evolution of the modern worker.

Today’s modern worker expects more from rewards and recognition programs than a gold watch when they retire. Quite frankly, some talent you want to attract won’t even walk in the door if your rewards and recognition program isn’t competitive.

Let’s face it, how many employees will stay with your company until retirement? Some people will leave when they find other opportunities, some will leave because of poor management and some will leave because they aren’t a good fit with your culture.

Current programs lag behind modern worker preferences

Despite the shift to modernizing many aspects of human resources and marketing, rewards and recognition programs continue to lag, experts say. According to Deloitte Insights’ 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report, today’s workers are looking for “personalized, agile and holistic” programs. That means conducting salary reviews more frequently and instituting more personalized incentive and rewards programs. “91 percent of companies still follow the utterly conventional practice of conducting salary reviews only once a year – or even less often,” the report says.

While more than 35 percent of respondents to the Deloitte survey rated rewards as important, only 9 percent said they are “very ready” to deal with this challenge.

A study by Globoforce found that employees who receive regular small rewards, in the form of money, points, or thanks, are a staggering eight times more engaged than those who receive compensation and bonus increases once a year.

Hot trends in rewards and recognition programs

Experts recommend considering these trends when updating rewards and recognition programs:

  • Companies should focus more on personalized rewards — what may appeal to one employee won’t appeal to the next. Tuition reimbursement may be considered a valuable incentive for an employee early in their career but a later stage employee may be more interested in a gift or a charitable contribution. Companies also are mining more of their own people data to personalize rewards and recognition programs, according to a recent story on BenefitsPro. “Personalizing rewards based on the needs of an organization’s actual workforce — rather than an industry benchmark or broader set of market data — can be a truly powerful tool to extend worker loyalty, reduce churn, and improve engagement,” the story says.
  • Frequency of rewards and recognition also is key. The Deloitte report says that employees respond favorably to agile compensation programs that provide raises, bonuses or other incentives more frequently than the traditional once-a-year model. Don’t wait until something big happens or limit rewards and recognition to annually. Celebrate often.
  • Make rewards and recognition public. Research shows that public recognition through a variety of communication channels including email, newsletters and announcements drives employee engagement even among those who aren’t recognized. It encourages them to strive for recognition.
  • Packaging and delivery is important. Leverage digital tools and bells and whistles to enhance the perceived value or perception of the reward. Everyone likes to be appreciated and beautiful or innovative packaging increases appreciation.
  • We’ve said it before but will say it again: Consider a personalized message or thank you from a senior manager if appropriate. A letter from a vice president or CEO can make a significant impact on how an employee feels about working for your organization.

How your company approaches rewards and recognition programs truly can make a difference in employee engagement. Employees who feel valued, compensated appropriately and recognized will be engaged and inspired to help your organization thrive.


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