The COVID Era: Why Incentives and Recognition are More Important than Ever

Aug 6, 2020 | Incentives & Recognition

Reward

What do your employees really expect of their leaders? Gone are the days when an annual performance review fulfills your employees’ desires to be recognized for their achievements. Now, add a pandemic into the mix. Remote working, reduced hours and furloughed teams don’t exactly scream “motivating.”

Our world will forever be changed as a result of COVID-19. The way we report to work, where our office is located and the specific tasks we are doing have been altered. But, one thing remains the same. We all desire motivation. We all want to be rewarded for our hard work. We all appreciate incentives. How has motivation and preferences on rewards and recognition changed as a result of the pandemic? Let’s start by looking at what worked in the past.

It’s hard to remember what life was like before-COVID. Good thing we took notes. At the end of 2019, we gathered data from more than 3,000 U.S. employees across various industries and roles, with a particular focus on the sales team. Using our proprietary technique, called rsX, we measured the relationship strength between a variety of groups:

  • employees
  • employees and their companies
  • employees and their managers

We specifically looked at trust, alignment and commitment within each of these groups. The results? Recognition is important, but it needs to be done the right way. Here are four key points to remember to create stronger connections with your team:

1. Recognition needs to be authentic and often

According to our study, when an employee feels like they are being properly recognized by their company, they are 74% more likely to remain an employee of that company. Now that’s powerful! But, the recognition doesn’t always have to come from the leader. Leaders should encourage and support peer-to-peer recognition, which is also important to employees.

Quick Tip: Service anniversaries are important. Employees are 17% more likely to stay at a company and have a stronger relationship with their company when their service anniversaries are recognized. You don’t have to wait until a milestone service anniversary to reward your team. “Surprise and Delight” employee gifts or points for a reward platform, which are rewarded at any time, can be extremely valuable and truly make employees feel appreciated.

2. Incentives are powerful

We all like rewards and they do wonders for motivating repeat behavior. Your employees are no different. Our survey showed employees who are eligible for incentives have 23% higher levels of trust in a company. But, only 35% of respondents received an incentive in their job, with those employees in a sales role receiving the most incentives. How are you reaching the other 65% of your team? This presents a big opportunity for leaders to strengthen their connections with employees.

Quick Tip: Think beyond simple cash rewards. Create the right rewards mix to appeal to a variety of employees. Include merchandise (consumer electronics are a hit), pre-paid cards and even charitable contributions in your rewards mix.

3. Flexibility matters

Even before COVID, our survey respondents stated flexible working arrangements had the largest impact on trust and alignment with their company. Employees said they were 42% more likely to remain with their current employer if their work arrangements were flexible enough to meet their personal and family needs. Again, this data was gathered before-COVID. When we emerge from this pandemic, flexibility will be the expectation within your teams.

Quick Tip: Focus on work/life harmony versus work/life balance. This is a fluid situation and needs to be flexible enough to change regularly as your employees’ needs change. It’s not an easy task, but keeping your eye on the prize is critical. Work/life harmony can do wonders for building a culture of trust and commitment with your team.

4. Invest in technology

There are screens everywhere. We are all communicating through platforms on our phones, tablets and computers. We now conduct virtual meetings for everything from large events and small team meetings. Technology is a crucial component of any incentive and recognition strategy, and an essential part of any flexible work environment. Technology can also assist you by streamlining your incentive and recognition program by making it easier to reward and recognize your employees.

Quick Tip: Find a technology solution that works on all devices, whether your employees are at their desk or on the go. We’ve all experienced frustration when a website doesn’t load fast, or the information we need isn’t easily accessible on our phones. Don’t add to your employees’ frustration. Instead, invest in the right technology solution that empowers your employees, increases performance, and enhances your communication within your team.

Check out our PerformX® technology for incentives and recognition programs. In the end, it all boils down to ensuring your team is engaged and connected. You can do this by offering an incentive and recognition program that helps motivate your team, ensuring a flexible work environment and making sure your technology can keep up with your audiences’ needs.

Richelle Taylor

Richelle Taylor

Richelle Taylor is a leader in performance improvement and marketing services in North America. Richelle oversees One10’s go-to-market strategy and its Incentives & Recognition business segment which includes global rewards as well as technology development for One10’s propriety performance improvement platform, PerformX. Taylor brings a seasoned background to One10, having held leadership positions in marketing, sales and product management for enterprise recognition and incentive technology solutions. She is an active member of the Cincinnati chapter of the Network of Executive Women (NEW) and a member of Women in Business Networking (WIBN), in which she was named Top 25 Women to Watch in 2013. Over the last 20 years, Taylor has published articles and spoken on incentive and recognition best practices.
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