How technology is changing the way we engage our employees

In today’s technology-driven world, digital connections are king. Everyone is plugged in and switched on 24/7, relying on their devices for any and every one of their wants and needs, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that an increasing number of people now expect workplace reward and recognition to be communicated and delivered digitally. And from an employer’s perspective, digital solutions are a win-win because of their potential to save time, reduce administration and drive down costs. For these reasons and more, traditional programmes, with their long and drawn out processes and operational methods, are being challenged with the advent of new technology.

Nowadays workforces don’t want or have to wait for reward and recognition that may only be offered at an annual all-staff meeting or through an ‘employee of the month’ scheme. Not only are these practises outdated, but limiting staff appreciation to once, or even 12 times, a year doesn’t allow for immediate displays of gratitude. In fact, they can also have a negative impact on staff morale and performance if employees believe their efforts go unnoticed for weeks or months on end. If this happens, the individual in question may even decide to leave before the reward or recognition is given, resulting in a loss of talent and a retention problem for the business.

And organisations themselves are constantly changing and evolving too. As locations, brands and divisions change, digital solutions have the ability to move with the times in a way that traditional schemes never could, being, as they are, complex, admin-heavy and often a drain on internal resources and as a result more expensive to run.

Reward and recognition beyond pay

There is also uncertainty surrounding the UK job market, as the CIPD’s annual labour market predictions for 2018 have highlighted, and meaningful wage increases appear unlikely.

The CIPD’s Acting Chief Economist, Ian Brinkley, says: “There is little evidence the squeeze on wages will end anytime soon, though the national minimum wage will see some workers get an uplift. Most employers can’t afford to or don’t feel the need to make an above-inflation pay rise.”

Therefore, identifying new ways to reward employees beyond the pay packet while keeping costs low is surely a must-have for any employer.

Current trends

Of course, trends are also responsible for changing the way programmes are delivered. There are three key developments that are affecting this:

1. Social recognition – Giving employees the opportunity to recognise and share in the achievements of their peers by making them online, social and interactive has become increasingly important to employees. They want to see that their employer appreciates them and their co-workers, which in turn allows them to gain a sense of empowerment, inclusion and motivation.

2. Instant gratification – Traditionally, employee rewards have consisted of numerous steps before the reward is delivered, from managers recognising an individual’s efforts and deciding to reward them, to placing an order, waiting for confirmation, then receiving delivery and passing it on to the individual in question. But rewards today should be available at any time at any place, instantly. Using a digital reward mechanism enables them to be issues quickly and simply, making paper-based schemes a thing of the past.

3. Personalisation and choice – Today’s workforces are made up of people from different backgrounds who have different wants and needs, so remembering that one size doesn’t fit all is vital.

Rewards that offer the recipient the freedom to choose their own reward will be much more valued by employees than generic ones, as they can pick something to suit their own tastes, leading to higher appreciation and a feeling that their employer respects their individuality. For employers themselves, this can also mean delivering rewards with personalised messages of ‘thanks’, or ‘congratulations’ alongside their own company branding to further heighten the impact.

Improving the employee value proposition

Online reward and recognition technology can improve an organisation’s employee value proposition – the deal that employers provide in exchange for an individual’s skills and expertise. This ultimately means they can be more attractive to potential recruits who see the availability of new technology as a key employee benefit.

But there’s no sense in providing a slick and attractive online solution if it’s not easy to use. The process of accessing rewards should be fast and available in as few clicks as possible, in the same way we access other services in our lives, such as online shopping. Of course, it’s all about the user experience. If the user has a positive experience and finds it easy to navigate, the likelihood is they will return. A bad experience has the potential to put them off returning in the future.

“It’s about the speed and ease of fulfilling rewards to customers with minimal impact on the working day,” says Jamie Clarke, Product Manager (Incentives & Motivation) at Edenred UK.

But employees today aren’t just concerned about the simplicity of the programme – they want to know their data is secure. Employee recognition technology can guarantee performance, data privacy and data integrity.

Some solutions also offer single sign on, meaning the technology is integrated with the company’s intranet and therefore ensuring HR departments don’t have the burden of dealing with numerous employee password queries.

Recognition and engagement

Increasing employee engagement is high priority for many HR directors, and one way of doing this by making sure they feel appreciated.

It’s no secret that happy employees generally mean a healthier bottom line for businesses. Over the years, countless studies have continued to support the theory that workers who are satisfied with their reward packages are also satisfied with their jobs. So having a recognition strategy that is aligned to an employee engagement strategy is a no-brainer for employers.

“A well-delivered and communicated recognition scheme can give employers the insight they need to see whether their values are being lived and breathed”, says Clarke.

The most successful recognition strategies are those which run continuously, with one central goal for the year, which enable employees to be recognised at regular intervals and therefore remain engaged and motivated. Employers must ensure they carefully measure the impact of their schemes on engagement and performance too.

The data gathered through recognition programmes can also be used to inform other areas of HR, including performance reviews.

Cost implications

Employers want to deliver recognition programmes as cost effectively as possible, as well as ensure they reap the rewards financially too, even if they take time to be realised. Research from Intrafocus Industry Insights in March 2017 showed that 43% of UK employees feel undervalued and unrecognised at work. Trends such as this could be costing businesses significant amounts of money in terms of sick days, lost productivity, and high staff turnover.

“Using digital solutions provide a good return on investment for employers because it drives increased performance and productivity, which in turn reduces absenteeism rates, and therefore the business is going to be financially better off,” says Clarke.

So the business case for effective recognition programmes is clear. A well-designed and efficiently operated scheme can ensure recognition becomes a central strategic tool that HR departments can rely on to implement change and enhance employee performance. With this in mind, now is the time for employers to embrace the business benefits of moving their recognition programme online.

Edenred’s solutions

Compliments Select and Connect involve little to no cost to set up and will save time for employers whatever they do. “The key benefit of both of our technology solutions is the speed of delivery. Both can be set up and delivered very, very quickly,” explains Clarke.

Author: Andy Philpott | Category: Blog | 13/09/2018 | 0

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