Trends in Employee Rewards and Recognition

Trends in Employee Rewards and Recognition

By Phillip Blount (and co-authored by Lauren Belcher, Phillip Blount & Associates)

Key Insights from WorldatWork’s 2013 Employee Recognition Trends Report

In challenging economic times, employee recognition programs can help companies show appreciation toward dedicated employees, who may not be receiving the type of pay increases they experience in a better economic climate. It’s interesting, though, to see an increase in the adoption of employee recognition programs as the economy improves.

A recent study by WorldatWork (“Trends in Employee Recognition 2013 Report”) indicates a 2% increase, between 2011 and 2013, in companies utilizing employee recognition programs. Regardless of modest increases in usage, recognition  programs have long been a popular tool for rewarding and motivating employees, with companies handing out certificates, plaques and cash to reward years of service, exemplary performance, and contributions toward “creating a positive work environment”.  It’s clear that companies, now more than ever, care about employee retention, profitability and internal cultural dynamics, and are investing (2% of payroll budget, on average) to prove it.

The WorldatWork 2013 study provided some other interesting insights:

Types of Programs

Most organizations, about 40%, report offering 3-4 recognition programs.  The two most common programs are based on “length of service” and “above-and-beyond performance,” with a prevalence of 84% and 75%, respectively.    These two types of programs have been the top two types for the past eight years.

Motivating Employee Behavior

Although “length of service” and “above-and-beyond performance” programs are the most prevalent, statistically, the type of program with the highest growth rate is the program that “motivates specific behaviors.”  These motivation –based recognition programs have seen a 16% growth from 2008-2013.

Scope  of Program

All types of recognition programs seem to be predominately “companywide.”  Ninety percent of the respondents who offer recognition programs, according to WorldatWork, offer a companywide program, while approximately 61% offer “department/division/unit/region/team-specific” programs.

Program Objectives

The top two reported objectives of recognition programs are “recognizing years of service” and “creating a positive work environment”.   Other reported goals include creating a culture of recognition, motivating high performance, reinforcing desired behaviors, increasing morale, supporting organizational values, encouraging loyalty, increasing retention/decreasing turnover, support, providing “line of sight” to the organization’s goals, and/or supporting cultural changes.   Nearly 75% of organizations believe that their recognition programs meet their objectives – the most common way of measuring this success is through employee satisfaction surveys, with over half (57%) of organizations using this as their measurement method.

As the job market heats up, it might be a good time to audit your recognition programs. Are they helping you improve employee satisfaction? Have you established program goals that represent your company values and objectives? Can employees draw a direct line from their behavior/performance to recognition outcomes? A happy and productive workforce is all you have to gain.



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