Many of us have watched with great interest (or anxiety) as 2020 & 2021 have continued to serve up challenging circumstances for the entire world. While it goes without saying that the difficulties we’ve encountered have taken their toll on us as individuals, what may not be as apparent is how work, workplace culture, and employee engagement have changed as a result of these challenges, and how it will continue to change as we move into the future.
As the pandemic raged across the world many organizations found themselves staring down a difficult prospect: “work” as we once saw it needed to pivot, change, and adapt. What once was a plan for the future suddenly became a plan for the present as remote work, flexible scheduling, and all kinds of program changes needed to happen at the drop of a hat—and with no end in sight these changes needed to become more permanent than transitionary.
The silver lining in all of this is that these changes in work and workplace culture have been a long time coming, and the challenges we’ve faced have accelerated what was already in the pipeline.
How Will Work Change in 2022?
As a result of the new landscape of work, many organizations have been forced to revisit their long-held assumptions of work. Instead of seeing employee recognition programs as a nice afterthought, many organizations now use them as their lifeline to keep employees engaged, supported, and happy. Many organizations see the urgent need for a holistic approach to employee engagement that means much more than a yearly bonus or birthday card. Indeed, employee experience is more important today than it has ever been, and the trends in employee recognition we’ve seen in the last year only strengthen this idea. For example, the Healthcare industry has seen a huge jump in recognition programs in the last two years—a direct result of needing to appreciate and support their employees more through a difficult time. (Check out our State of Recognition 2022 report for a more in-depth analysis of the past year’s trends.)
Remote Work & Recognition
By some estimates nearly 42% of the U.S. economy is now working remotely, the majority of this being driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote work has been gaining steam in the last decade, with many companies offering it as a perk, and is now a necessity for many. Remote work is projected to continue into the future either as a hybrid schedule of office and remote work or exclusively remote.
Despite its potential setbacks, remote work is undoubtedly here to stay and will continue to grow in many industries. Whether your workforce is remote or in person, it is important to utilize every tool at your disposal to increase engagement and improve employee experience—and there is no better tool we’ve seen than rewarding recognition. In fact, enterprise level and especially healthcare companies have increased their recognition through this last year—a testament to the power of recognition in keeping teams united, supporting individuals, and building workplace culture no matter where employees are working.
Personalized Recognitions and Rewards
People in today’s world are used to a certain level of choice in virtually everything they do. From nearly endless entertainment options with over 300 streaming services alone, hundreds of food choices in any given area, thousands of available gift cards, and the millions of products available on Amazon, people can choose from a nearly endless supply of options for every need or desire they have. Most of the time they can have nearly instantaneous access to whatever they want—or have it shipped directly to their door in a matter of hours or days in the case of Amazon.
If the modern world offers such convenience and choice, why has it taken the modern workplace so long to catch up? Many organizations are still using rewards and recognition programs that have been in place for decades, and their employee experience suffers as a result.
Employees expect the same level of choice and convenience in their employee rewards—and more companies are catching on to that idea as well. Instead of offering a limited catalog of hugely marked up items, why not offer the same limitless choice and rapid availability that employees experience outside of work? Being able to choose their own rewards using a familiar experience like Amazon is becoming a competitive edge that organizations are taking advantage of in growing numbers. By offering this same level of choice and convenience to employees, companies are showing that they care about their employees enough to let them choose—and when employees feel cared for, they care more.
Employee Rewards as Part of Compensation & Bonus Structure
Reward Compensation is a new trend in the market, one that Awardco is pioneering. The basic idea is that on top of a regular salary employees receive an added bonus they can use to choose their own rewards. This compensation, often called "Bonus Compensation" or "Experience Pay" is given on a regular basis instead of as one large payout at the end of the year. Retention is a huge issue for so many organizations at the moment, and the current bonus structure of giving a payout during the Holidays isn't enough to attract and retain good employees. The shift from looking at rewards as a nice, fluffy perk to a part of total compensation has been a long time coming, and it's here to stay.
Greater Emphasis on Employee Well-Being
While always important, employee well-being initiatives will become even more integral as part of an organization's arsenal to support employee health and safety. Ensuring employees have the tools they need to live well in every aspect of their lives will help attract and retain talent, increase employee satisfaction, and boost ROI as organizations support the physical, mental, financial, social, and occupational wellness of their employees.
Expanded Flexible Work Policies
While remote work will undoubtedly continue, it will also expand into flexible work policies that allow for employees to complete their work according to their own schedule. If employees need a more compact schedule with alternating days on or off, organizations can leap ahead of their competitors by offering such a flexible work policy. Work will continue to be done as employees rebalance their workload and synchronize their work with their teammates.
Daily Feedback Becomes the Norm
Because work schedules are going to continue and expand in flexibility, daily feedback will become even more vital as teams synchronize their work. Feedback has always been a part of work, and its importance continues to grow as we move into the future.
Recognition and the Future of Work
As we now move into the future, many more things weigh heavy on our minds. Challenges such as the Great Resignation are forcing us to rethink how we attract and retain employees and how we build a company culture that contributes to employee happiness as much as it does to employee’s wallets. No matter what lies ahead, it’s important to recognize that organizations are made of people, and it’s in the individuals that we can find the most strength. As we look ahead, let's not just focus on the process, but let’s build a culture of appreciation that will weather whatever 2022 has in store.