22 Apr 2021 | by Claire Woodbridge

Its safe to say that reward and recognition has continued to evolve in recent yearsand the past year has had a monumental impact on those changes. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a fundamental shift in the way we work, making previous methods of reward and recognition redundant and prompting many companies to reconsider their approach. However, we were beginning to see changes in the way we reward and recognise long before the pandemicCOVID-19 has just fast-tracked the inevitable 

Historically, reward and recognition would often be confused with incentives. While many of us are familiar with the word incentive, it has become an outdated term, often used to reference incentive trips offering one annual touchpoint for the eliteReward and recognition, on the other hand, is a much broader concept that encourages consistent engagement across a business all year round.  

Reward can include traditional incentive trips and events as part of a larger scheme or strategy. In order to consistently reward employees fairly, appropriate to their role, employers have also had to find different ways of recognising success. Broadly speaking, recognition is a celebration of an individual’s contribution and value to their company, unconnected with their salary. 

The Penguins and DRPG Research & Insights team have recently investigated the changing face of reward and recognition

Below are four key changes we identified within employee reward and recognition:  

 Reward and recognition is not just for sales teams  

Previously, rewards were often used as a sales attainment tool and were only geared towards sales and business development. AHR managers, internal comms teams and industry leaders worldwide have become more aware of the benefits of R&R, we’ve seen a shift to reward and recognition programmes that encompass all areas of business, not just sales teams. This has helped to create more inclusive cultures in many workforces as employees feel engaged and aligned with the company’s culture, values and objectives, as opposed to only aligning with sales targets. By engaging employees through an inclusive reward and recognition programme, companies have seen far-reaching results. It therefore stands to reason that we should be gearing our approach to reward and recognition towards wider team members while still maintaining the feel of exclusivity and the success that this proposition creates so well.  


Reward and recognition should be continuous 

While rewards were often viewed as one-off annual events, such as an incentive trip or a company away weekend, there has recently been a shift in their format. Many companies have introduced frequent, but financially smaller, acts of reward and recognition, such as a personalised thank you from the CEO, a day off to spend time with the family or public recognition among peers. Such reward and recognition programmes are established business tools designed to change employee and consumer behaviour, subsequently improving profit, cash flow and employee and customer engagement. Research from a report carried out by the Penguins and DRPG Research Insights team found that several of our contacts are introducing similar rewards, suggesting that this movement is welcomed by many organisations.  


The importance of CSR and employee wellbeing 

As reward and recognition programmes have continued to evolve in recent years, the focus on workplace wellbeing and corporate social responsibility (CSR) has increasedCSR is a growing concern because consumers now expect brands to continuously act on important issues and remain accountable for their own impact on local communities and the wider world. Workplace wellbeing focuses on individuals, aiding productivity and retention, with a proven correlation between the lifestyle choices that employees make, their physical and mental health, and how they perform at work.  

The pandemic has brought these two factors to the forefront. We have seen the impact working from home has had on employees, with a study by Nuffield Health finding that a shocking 80% of Brits feel working from home has negatively impacted their mental health. We’ve seen a positive impact too. Measures taken to control the spread of the virus and the slowing of economic activities have had a positive effect on the environment, reducing in carbon emissions and noise pollution and improving air quality. The impact of the pandemic on both these factors cannot be ignored. If they weren’t considered by organisations pre-pandemic, they certainly will be now.  


Choice is key to making employees feel valued 

Traditionally, reward and recognition has been led by the rewardwith the understanding being that delivering a successful programme begins with an incentive which will engage your audience. Moving forward, there is more scope for this to be personalised, engaging every member of your audience more directly. The key concept is choice. While providing every individual with a personalised reward and recognition programme would be extremely challenging, what works for one does not work for all. Therefore, every organisation should be getting to know their people and understanding exactly what reward and recognition means to them. Providing individuals with a choice in how they are rewarded can help them to feel more valued by the company, once again increasing their personal attachment to company culture, values and objectives and decreasing the likelihood of them looking for worelsewhere.   

As we start to get to grips with a post-pandemic world, reward and recognition programmes will be more important than ever for employee engagement, productivity and attainment. While productivity remains the foundational concern for all businesses, we are seeing an increased need for team collaboration and job support. Vital to all types of workplaces, reward and recognition programmes should continue long after the pandemic and should not be an afterthought in any corporate strategy. Just as they have evolved in recent years, we expect to see further changes to the way we recognise and reward moving forward, incorporating each of the changes we have identified here 

To read the full report on The changing face of reward click HERE.

Are your reward and recognition programmes boosting productivity? Getting employees engaged? Targeting business goals? If not, it might be time to reassess. Our dedicated Reward & Recognition team are experts when it comes to creating R&R strategies which get results. Reach out today to see what we could achieve together. 


Claire Woodbridge

By Claire Woodbridge

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