20 Dec 2021 | by Lydia Chenhall

The last two years have seen massive changes take place within reward and recognition. Not only has it become a key part of many businesses, the very nature of R&R has been entirely changed by the pandemic.

Business has become just as fast-paced as everything else in our lives; changes are made and swiftly. For reward and recognition practices, this has been no different. We’re heading into the new year with no doubt an entirely new way of delivering the best R&R offerings. 

The biggest R&R lesson the pandemic has taught us is that it is no longer confined to the office. The model was turned on its head with the introduction of working from home, with companies having to dig deep into their creative wells and generate offerings that sat well with digital audiences.

So how can we ready ourselves for the new year? In its Reward and Recognition checklist, workplace benefits specialists Perkpal suggest firstly reflecting on your goals and looking at how they may change.

How can you foster this predicted change? What kind of behaviour needs to be instilled to achieve these new goals? And what does the future of R&R truly look like?

To help, we have listed the trends you should be aware of heading into the new year.

Digital first

A successful and meaningful offering means consistent evaluation and a will to learn, build, and grow what you already have. 

Ahead of 2022, many of us are putting our R&R practices under a microscope and asking where do the opportunities for innovation really lie? 

The increase in remote working, Microsoft Teams meetings, and the introduction of hybrid working has meant we have seen a significant rise in the use of and popularity of digital R&R solutions. 

In 2022, we will see existing programmes likely digitised at a faster rate, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, in efforts to inspire higher efficiencies, higher effectiveness, and better ROIs. 

There’s also the argument to be made for digital R&R’s reach. Why implement R&R on a division-by-division or country-by-country basis when you could utilise digital platforms to take it global? No longer will it need to be as targeted or specific to any one division or arm of a company. Global, wider-reaching and thus more generalised programmes may become the new ‘norm’. 


There can’t really be a conversation about R&R in 2022 without the mention of gamification. We should be looking to gamify our R&R offerings, with the use of digital employee recognition platforms coupled with rewards points, digital badges, leaderboards, e-certificates, e-gift cards, and apps. These should become ‘much more prevalent’, says HR digital platform experts HiFive.

Be sure to consider interactive leaderboards, goal-tracking progress bars, and social media-style recognition platforms. These will lead to friendly competition, further increase on productivity, and lend the chance for employees to visualise their achievements.

Closing the gap

Research has found that two thirds of leaders (68%) feel they create empowering environments where people have a sense of belonging, yet just one third (36%) of employees agree.

The study from Accenture also found that the proportion of employees who do not feel included in their organisations is 10x higher than leaders believe (20% vs 2%, respectively).

So, in 2022, expect to see leaders going to further efforts to align their perceptions with those of their employees. After all, the same study found it would advance everyone faster, with predictions of global profits increasing by $3.7 trillion USD as a result.

Experience management company Qualtrics paints a more positive picture for the future, with its own research showing that 70% of employees say their organisations have made 'sufficient progress' towards greater DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging), and 67% believe senior leaders' actions are showing a commitment to improving the situation.

The likelihood is that we will see a meeting in the middle on issues that would otherwise divide the office.

Wellbeing to continue as priority 

We can fully expect the long-term mental health of employees to continue to rank high in the importance of senior leaders. With hybrid working on the rise, the lines between both have blurred. Nearly one in three employees won't always take a sick day, even if they aren't feeling well enough to work, reports Business Insider. Two in three cite workload as the reason why.

In its study, Qualtrics also asked employees about their self-confidence at work, delving into whether or not they have relationships with their colleagues, and what they were like, and how energised they felt in the workplace.

What it discovered was that trends indicated a mixed impact that the pandemic has had on working life, with employees feeling more energised, supported by the fact that half of employees feel their physical and mental well-being has improved with working from home measures in place. 

With this, there’s high chance we will see a continued passion to work from home, with R&R programmes that reflect this. Digital quizzes, with digital rewards, and digital recognition, coupled with as much human interaction as possible. This will be where hybrid working models will shine - with workforces fluctuating, governments permitting, in and out of the workplace as it suits their mental wellbeing.

New year, new ideas

Overall, while it’s all well looking into trends and giving our best guess at what the next year of reward and recognition looks like, in reality, nothing’s set in stone. The past two years have shown us just how unpredictable things can be, but that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s quite exciting.

We’ve been given a little extra time over lockdowns and WFH to really step back and take a look at what works and what doesn’t, and this has really revitalised how we practice rewards and recognition in the workplace. We’ve seen some fascinating new ideas come about, and we’re excited to see what’s to come in 2022.

What do you think 2022 will bring? Let us know on our socials.

Lydia Chenhall

By Lydia Chenhall

CopywriterMore articles by Lydia Chenhall