2016 Predictions for Employee Engagement & Recognition

2015 saw the terms “employee engagement” and “company culture” elevated from HR industry jargon to everyday business vernacular. Prominent publications like Forbes and Fortune have published feature articles on the subjects, and business leaders everywhere are wondering how they can get their employees to be more committed and productive. The power of recognition is also getting renewed attention as an effective tool to help drive engagement. Below are five employee engagement and recognition trends companies should consider in 2016:

1.      Work-Life Balance Becomes Work-Life Blend: Employees today more than ever are looking for meaningful work over a larger paycheck. The best companies not only provide that meaning, but also let employees work on their own terms. Employers are increasingly embracing the idea that work can happen anywhere and at any time for many job functions. Workers who are given this freedom are usually happy to check email on their phones while in line at the grocery store or to put in a couple of hours on the laptop before bed. If they care about the work they’re doing it’s not seen as an intrusion. Companies that do not heed this trend will have problems with retention as high-value employees migrate to other organizations that offer meaningful work and flexibility.

2.      Employees Will Crave Consumer Tech - Even at Work: As the line between work and personal life continues to blur thanks to mobile technology, younger employees who have always used their smart phones for work and play will see no need to differentiate between the tools they use in their personal lives and the ones used at work. Facebook is currently developing a version of their platform for the workplace that allows users to maintain a work profile separate from their personal one while still using the features and interface they know so well. Mobile payment platforms such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay will begin to play an integral role in the employee rewards experience as the concept of choice when it comes to incentives will be taken for granted. Fitbit and other wearables will be increasingly integrated into wellness programs.

3.      Company Branded Rewards Are Old News: Back in the days when employees stayed with their companies for 10 or 20 years, it was considered a status symbol to receive a branded pen or an engraved gold watch with a message from the CEO. Today it’s becoming common for employees to switch jobs every 1-2 years and nobody aspires to display an engraved plaque in their tiny open office workstation. Non-monetary recognition that is social, which means it can be seen by peers, commented on, and even shared on outside networks, is the new reward currency. Earning a badge on your profile proclaiming that you’re the salesperson of the quarter or the customer service champion of the month is seen as more valuable than receiving a few dollars in points.

4.      Competitive Compensation & Benefits…Yawn- Having a good compensation package is no longer enough to attract and retain star employees. Younger employees in particular are looking for experiences rather than just a paycheck. They want to grow and learn in their careers and be a part of something they can be proud of. Company culture is a more valuable benefit than any bonus plan, and companies that can offer things like autonomy, the ability to make an impact on the business (or the world at large), career development, and flexibility are going to win the war for talent, get more out of their employees, and keep them around longer.

5.      Consolidation in the HR Tech Space – We’ve seen countless articles this year denouncing the annual review and proclaiming the need for more frequent and flexible feedback that isn’t solely based on objectives created months prior. As a result it wouldn’t be surprising to see a large talent management firm acquire a recognition platform in order to address that need. Recognition platforms are great sources of information about daily employee accomplishments that are linked to the values that align with the company’s goals and culture. This data can enrich manager feedback by providing a clear picture of short-term behavior and achievement.

It’s clear that in 2016 employees will continue to shape the world of work as they strive to create meaningful and fulfilling careers. The companies who successfully cater to their personal goals will reap dividends with more engaged employees who stay longer and work hard.



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