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Employee Recognition: Looking Forward

2018 Trends Study 

Rewardian and People Matters designed and conducted this study with the objective to understand how leading companies in India approach recognition programs. The survey saw the participation of HR professionals from 180 companies across industries and sectors.

Findings from the study highlight these trends in employee recognition:

  • Instant (timely) recognition is more effective.
  • Leadership buy-in remains the top challenge in implementing successful employee recognition programs.
  • Leadership participation is critical in program success, yet many leaders view employee recognition as short-term fixes rather than a long-term culture shift.
  • Technology implementation is critical to employee recognition program success and analysis, yet 43% of organizations still manually manage programs.
  • Programs will be focused on behaviors which reflect core company values.


Download the full report:

Trends in Employee Recognition

Employee Recognition, Back Then

The End of the Gold Watch Era

Traditional recognition practices like doling out gold watches for years of service and employee of the month certainly were effective decades ago, but often miss the mark in the modern workplace. Baby boomers are hard-working, dedicated professionals who traditionally realize long careers under one employer. They value commitment to employers and work to make the world and their organizations a better place. This generation worked to put in the hours and the “face time” necessary to prove dedication to their work. These practices were considered effective at keeping employees loyal to their organizations, which resonate with the Baby Boomer brand of hard work and professional development. This group has remained the largest living generation for decades and has subsequently shaped the workforce as we know it. At the height of Boomer dominance, longevity was a primary metric of career success. Longevity prompted many employee recognition practices by way of service anniversary programs.

Digital Disruption, Millennials & The Changing Workplace

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Technology Disrupts the Workplace 

The disruption caused by rapidly evolving technology paired with the emergence of a new generation of professionals has given way to an almost unrecognizable workforce. In 2015, Millennials surpassed Generation X as the largest share of the American workforce. 

The New Organization

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From Hierarchy to Networks 

New-age perks like the omnipresent beer fridge, ping pong tables, and flexible hours of tech startups have begun to bleed into the workplaces of seasoned, traditional corporations as a result of evolving talent demands.

But that’s not the only difference.

  • Organizational restructure tops the list of priorities for two straight years.
  • Businesses are swaping hierarchical models for agile, network-based operations. 
  • AI and machine learning are changing the way businesses communicate internally and externally.

The Employee is the Internal Customer

When looking for new opportunities, 53% of employees cite the ability to have greater work-life balance as very important. Flexibility also topped the list of priorities: 54% of employees say they would leave a job for one with more flexible work time. As “teams” become more prevalent, employees expect agile business models which offer increased flexibility. Employees also seek meaning and purpose from their employers. While the majority of the US workforce is not engaged in their work–that is, indifferent–the percentage of employees who are engaged derive meaning from their day to day. In fact, the number one influencing factor in the Millennial job search is the opportunity to learn and grow.

What Employees Today Want

Flexibility, Growth, & Connection 

Employees today are accustomed to a largely digital, on-demand lifestyle and expect the same experience from employers. From the start of the job search to the retirement process, employees expect a holistic work experience that compliments their professional, physical, emotional, and financial well-being. And they expect the ability to remain digitally connected to their work lives and employers.

  • 83% of respondents to a 2017 Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends survey say their organization is shifting to flexible, open career models that offer enriching assignments, projects, and experiences.
  • Employee Engagement in Today's Workforce
  • Only 22% of companies survey employees more than once annually, and 14% never survey employees at all.
  • 60% of employees want the ability to do what they do best.

What is Employee Engagement?

US Employees are not Engaged. 

According to the most recent State of the Workplace study by Gallup, 51% of the US workforce is not engaged at work, and half are actively looking for new jobs are watching for openings. Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity per year.

Employee Recognition Resources

Building an Employee Recognition Program

Why Recognition? 

Company Values Drive Engagement

A recognition program should be a manifestation of organizational culture tied together with company values. Before building a recognition program, organizations must consider company values/mission, medium, players, budget, and rewards. Employees today and those rapidly entering the workforce are accustomed to a fully digital life: online shopping, food delivery, social media, email, boarding passes–you name it, it’s digital and it’s immediate. Employees need constant communication in order to perform well, and the same thing goes for a recognition program.

Employee Appreciation Templates 


Think your employees could use a little boost? Try these employee appreciation certificates. 


Get Templates

What is Employee Engagement?

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