Recognition and Engagement in Today’s Workforce

working in office

As the late American poet laureate Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Engaged employees feel satisfied and appreciated in their job. They want to come to work daily and feel emotionally connected to their employer.

This article will review the impact of meaningful employee recognition and engagement programs, how they are evolving to meet the changing needs of today’s workforce, and how you can ensure that your employees do not get left behind as your business grows.

The Impact of Employee Recognition and Engagement

Companies design employee recognition programs to reinforce positive outcomes and foster positive attitudes among their workforce. 

The Gallup Organization has found that 54% of the American workforce is not engaged at work – nearly a third of those (17.2%) are classified as actively disengaged. 

The impact of engagement on employee performance cannot be denied:

  • Employees who feel highly engaged are 87% less likely to leave their employer voluntarily.
  • 69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt more appreciated.
  • 37% of employees say recognition is the most critical factor in job satisfaction.

The impact of employee engagement on company outcomes is equally important:

  • Companies with high employee engagement are 21% more profitable and 22% more productive than their peers. 
  • Disengaged employees cost companies $3,400, on average, for every $10,000 per year that the employees earn.

And let’s not forget the importance of employee engagement in terms of customer service. According to DemandMetric:

  • 80% of customers are retained by organizations with employee engagement rates of 50% or higher
  • Customers who know that a company’s employees enjoy what they do feel more positive about their experience and are likelier to develop a sense of loyalty to the company.

Companies are asking a lot from their recognition and engagement programs, and it’s vital to reevaluate your program on a regular basis to ensure you are meeting employee needs.

The Pandemic’s Impact on Workforce Demographics

Performance incentives have long been used to attract and retain quality workers. Today, there are five generations in the workforce for the first time in history:

  • Millennials (1981 to 2000) – currently 37%* of the U.S. workforce
  • Generation X (1965 to 1980) – 28%
  • Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964) – 27%
  • Generation Z (2001 to 2020) – 6% 
  • Traditionalists (1925 to 1945) – 2%

*estimated to increase to 75% by 2030.

Each generation has a different relationship with work, and companies must be conscious of how employee recognition resonates with each individual employee.

The challenges and uncertainties of the pandemic have led to employees re-evaluating their work-life balance. There is now a greater focus on personal well-being, including mental health. Workers expect more from their jobs and are not afraid to change jobs or even careers to find a position in which they feel satisfied, motivated, and fulfilled. About 23% of workers are looking for a new position with a different employer in 2022. When considering only remote-based workers, that number increases to 24%.

Considering that Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce, having surpassed Baby Boomers, there’s no wonder it’s become hard to fill open positions and keep the employees you do have.

Recognition is More Relevant than Ever

Deloitte cites five market factors that make recognition programs even more relevant today than before:

Unstable Economy Many companies have to do more with less. Recognition is one way of promoting a culture of engagement.

Need for Greater Agility Modern companies need to be able to reconfigure their workforce in response to growing business demands. Recognition can help attract new employees and retain existing ones. It keeps employees engaged and motivated to respond to global markets while allowing the company to compete for top talent.

Flattening Organizational Structures Many company structures are becoming less hierarchical and more collaborative, creating fewer promotion opportunities. Innovative methods are required to recognize strong performance.

Technology Transparency, collaboration, and knowledge sharing have become the new norm. Social media is often used as part of recognition programs, for example, peer-to-peer recognition via social media platforms.

Millennial Generation Millennial generation employees tend to resonate more deeply with feedback than other demographics. Companies must focus on finding ways to keep younger workers engaged and productive.

Grow with Your Business

Companies change as they grow, and these changes may involve the overall company vision and business model, the types of customers and employees, or simply the number of customers and employees.

In any event, successful recognition programs aren’t one-size-fits-all. Just as employee engagement and recognition efforts need to adapt to changing trends in the workforce, they need to evolve as your business grows.

If recognition, rewards, and culture play a large role in your company, it will become obvious it will be if the program doesn’t adapt to changes in company dynamics. Reward programs need to be kept fresh and innovative – much like other employee benefits – to achieve optimal success in helping to attract and retain high-performing employees. Your program may require changes and upgrades to parameters, implementation procedures, and the nature of the rewards themselves.

Choose The Right Partner

Having the right employee recognition provider can make a massive difference to the success of your engagement and recognition program.

Xceleration’s powerful software platform is backed by experienced professionals who help businesses like yours create customized recognition programs that engage, motivate, and reward. Contact us today to learn how we can equip your business with the tools you need for a cost-effective and impactful employee recognition program.

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