10 May 2021 | by Abbie Hanton

Looking back on 2020, it’s easy to see the spread of COVID-19 across the globe as inevitable and end up asking yourself how we didn’t all see it coming long before March. But in reality, our world changed rather quickly. For so many businesses, that has meant navigating situations they would never have imagined with little warning, namely a huge rise in home working, rapid dips in income and a surge in desire for timely and reassuring comms. 

We’ve written before about how the pandemic has changed the landscape of reward and recognition and we know that 42% of organisations now plan to make changes to their benefits programmes specifically because of COVID-19, but what are those changes likely to be? In short, where do we go from here? 

Is reward and recognition still valuable post-pandemic? 

Much of how we work has changed, yes, but the fact that humans need recognition to reach their full potential has not. That’s evidenced in the fact that companies that regularly praise or recognise their employees’ efforts far outperform those that don’t, reporting 22% higher productivity and 31% lower staff turnover. 

On top of this, it’s been shown that gratitude, an outcome of any good reward and recognition strategy, can also inspire us to take more pride in our work. Now that employers need to work on building confidence with staff who may have been furloughed, felt uncertain of the job security or just had a tough year, building that relationship between employees and your organisation is more vital than ever. 

That’s exactly why, in the first three months of this year, we reached out to a selection of focus groups across different industries to find out more about reward and recognition going forward. In our latest report, The changing face of reward, we explore how R&R has changed, what’s working, what’s not and what the future looks like.

So, what are our predictions for the road to recovery? 

Focus on choice and individual rewards in the short term 

In the short term, your recovery strategy must focus on understanding your audience. This might sound straightforward, and you more than likely think you’ve been doing this for years. But over the course of the past year, opinions have changed in light of the pandemic, so it’s more important than ever to reach out to your audience and try to understand what they really want from you. What motivates them? What rewards or incentives would appeal to them? 

Of course, that will be different for every person you speak to. Increasingly it’s choice itself that people want to see in reward and recognition programmes. So, look to offer variationcreate tiers with specific values and give your winners a range of rewards to choose from. That way, you can make sure everyone is motivated to achieve, not just those who like the sound of the one reward you’ve selected. 

Everyone is going to react to returning to “normal” differently and allowing choice in their reward allows each employee to feel comfortable and understood. Individual rewards will be the first to return in the short term, allowing winners to pick an experience that they can enjoy in their own time and with their loved ones and to allow employers to kick start their reward and recognition programmes again. 

Bring back experiences in the medium term 

As lockdown measures begin to ease and we all begin to feel a bit more comfortable returning to something closer to normal, the issues we need to address in this recovery process will naturally change. Choice will remain key and should really be considered as a new pillar in the landscape of R&R, but shared experiences will start to play a role too. 

Not everyone will be ready to socialise in the same way as before, so it’s important to keep that in mind, but for so many of your employees, a little social interaction will be an enticing reward. Consider scheduling experiences in smaller groups where you can showcase the level of incentive your organisation can offer and show employees just how valued they are. But make sure there’s still an option for any winners not ready to dive back in just yet. 

Desire for events will rise in the long term 

As the pandemic begins to fade into the background, travel and live events will come to hold more appeal than ever. Across the board, we expect desire for events to rocket in the long term and there are huge benefits to that in the reward and recognition space.  

In-person connection is vital to making your employees feel truly valued and some of those more traditional incentives like exclusive experiences, overseas trips and the opportunity to create everlasting memories can start to come back into play. It’s worth planning ahead for this stage of recovery as employees will be eager to take stock of how R&R will look in your organisation moving forward. Take the opportunity to wow them! 

Broken down into three distinct phasesit becomes a bit easier to understand how reward and recognition schemes may pick back up post-pandemic. Nothing will be exactly the same as it was before, but nothing will be too different either. All those systems you had in place a year ago may prove useful in the months to come and will only be enhanced by everything we’ve learned through the pandemic. Build your recovery strategy around your audience needs and you can’t go far wrong. 

If you need help rejuvenating your reward and recognition strategies for the post-COVID workplace, our dedicated R&R team are here to help. To get started, just get in touch HERE and, no matter your goals, together we can make anything possible. 

To find out more about the future of Reward and Recognition check out our latest report on The changing face of reward.

Abbie Hanton

By Abbie Hanton

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