Article: Rewards and recognition trends: Making it personalized

Benefits & Rewards

Rewards and recognition trends: Making it personalized

With employees being the focus for organizations, the need to understand them, creating a holistic culture and customizing R&R programs that facilitate overall development is imperative
Rewards and recognition trends: Making it personalized

Leaders are now realizing the importance of R&R programs and are going beyond approving initiatives – they are actively engaging in them


The rewards and recognition landscape in India is changing. There are three trends that are driving this change:

  1. The aspect of leadership buy-in. More leaders are realizing the importance of R&R programs and are going beyond approving initiatives – they are actively engaging in them.
  2. The emphasis on personalization, and that there is a need for employers to understand aspirations and goals of their employees.
  3. The employees, who proactively seek non-financial incentives beyond compensation and conventional recognition programs. And these trends are driving organizations to focus on the catalyst for the changes – the employee.

Understanding employees

Since R&R is often based on individual employees, it is important to know and understand employees across generations, their charted career paths, roles and aspirations. All individuals are unique and so are their motivating factors to work more intensely. And there is only one person who is in a unique position to understand an employee by coaching them, advising them, understanding and helping them succeed. And that is the manager. You cannot have an engagement strategy that doesn't empower managers to do what only they can. For that, companies should also recognize great people managers because that is so rarely done and so conspicuously absent these days.  

In a survey conducted by BI Worldwide, employees who answered between ‘agree’ and ‘strongly agree’ to the statement "My manager understands me" had a high very high co-relation to "I feel an obligation to work as hard as I can for my company". Interestingly, those who fell between the ‘disagree’ and ‘strongly disagree’ were somewhat neutral about their obligation to work hard. This simply means that they are looking at the clock each day to leave for home and they are in it only for the pay check.

“Feeling an obligation to work for my company” is a measure of “Intensity of Performance” which is one of the two pillars of Employee Engagement and the other being Intensity of Commitment. As organizations seek to create consistency between employees, employees are at risk of losing the ‘Me’ within the ‘We’. True diversity happens when a company insists that each person is managed, coached, given opportunities, and recognized as a category of one!

Facilitating development through change

The infusion of a younger workforce not only adds to the diversity, it also makes a brand ‘cool’ – the definition of ‘cool’ is reflective of the aspirations of the millennials today. They want companies to be more open to ideas, have a diverse work environment and want to be given platforms where they can be heard.

Companies also need to strategize their rewards and recognition programs with flexibility and choice as value-addition attributes. Future R&R programs will see an increase in gamification and health and wellness initiatives. Recognition is still grossly underplayed in the Indian context of Total Rewards, and it is important for companies to fund their rewards and recognition programs adequately. Another aspect of change that companies need to be wary of is leadership involvement. Often, when leadership roles are diluted in a rewards and recognition program, the engagement rates fall down. While it is highly valued at the top management levels, what we have observed is that there is a need for focused training and constant sensitization at the middle-management level. Companies with the best practices tend to use quarterly scorecards, including goals for managers in their KRAs and having quarterly calls across geographies on communication strategies and training. 

Whether change has to be brought in at the managerial level or through increased leadership involvement or through increased personalization by taking into account the needs of individual employees, any engagement initiative will only be successful when it is a part of the culture of the company. 

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Topics: Benefits & Rewards, Compensation & Benefits

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