2020 brought about a series of sudden, unexpected changes that sent companies of all sizes reeling. The pandemic tested every aspect of maintaining an engaged and connected workplace. While enterprises were concerned about the sustainability of the business, employees were unsure of what to expect next. There was worldwide economic and societal unrest that caused employers to value and appreciate their employees in bolstering their business when many others were forced to shut down.

The challenges in 2020 will have a long-term impact on the way enterprises engage with their employees and follow strategies to deliver a superior employee experience. In fact, enterprises have realized how a simple solution like rewards and recognition (R&R) can prove to be fruitful in making their employees feel valued. And indeed, organizations radically altered their work practices and focused on humanizing the R&R process to revolutionize the way their workers interact.

Though offices around the world will likely start opening when a critical mass of the country’s citizens are vaccinated, remote work will remain relevant, often preferred, and will be an integral part of the decision-making process going forward.

Here’s a quick look at the top five R&R focus areas in 2021.

Focus area #1

Unified platform for employee communication and collaboration

As teams grew demographically diverse and emotionally distant, it became difficult to remain connected with teammates. The recognition platform played a crucial role in promoting conversations between peers as moments of achievements and celebrations were shared widely through the newsfeed. The R&R platform will continue to serve as a communication platform for sending across relevant company news and announcements to employees. It will also serve as an important tool for HR managers and leaders to roll-out regular polls and provide an open platform for collecting feedback from employees.

Focus area #2

Encouraging diversity & inclusion (D&I) in the workplace

Though D&I has been a hot topic for some time now, the events in 2020 helped accelerate the adoption of such practices in the workplace. As D&I grows in popularity, recognition solutions will utilize technology to make peers and the platform itself smarter to ensure no unconscious bias exists toward employees, and in the way a token of gratitude is sent. An increasing number of companies will start focusing on D&I based on gender and gender identity, ethnicity and race, religion, sexual orientation, and other social factors, and will instill the same values into the R&R platform. This will also include tracking behaviors within teams through D&I KPIs.

Focus area #3

Collecting feedback through Voice of Employee (VoE)

Since the onset of the pandemic, employers found it hard to understand how employees were feeling and were unable to track employee engagement and satisfaction in their true sense. Using an employee recognition platform to collect feedback and carry out pulse surveys from time-to-time helped companies develop people-centric strategies to improve overall performance and work quality and promote a healthy work environment. This will enhance the employee experience and workplace culture, increase productivity and efficiency, and refine business processes and outcomes. An advanced VoE solution will also provide actionable insights and suggestions that senior leaders can undertake at the team- or company-wide level.

Focus area #4

Increased emphasis on employees’ health and wellbeing

The COVID-19 outbreak forced organizations to keenly focus on employee wellbeing and health. While poor work-life balance was undoubtedly one of the key issues, isolation and loneliness highly altered employees’ capacity to work and perform. Issues like mental health, burnout, and stress took a toll on employees and led to a loss in productivity and reduction in quality of the work delivered. Realizing that employees are the real asset, enterprises will continue to embrace solutions that will help better employees’ health and wellbeing. These will include both the mental and physical health of the employee and will leverage technology to connect them with fitness coaches and online counselors.

Focus area #5

Utilizing the power of integrations and open APIs

As the user base for video conferencing and team collaboration applications such as Google Meets, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom grew, so did demand for the integration of these solutions with R&R platforms. This enabled managers and peers to send recognition in the flow of work and encouraged timely appreciation of great work. It is expected to pave the path to a truly integrated R&R platform with options to integrate with communication tools such as G Suite, Outlook, and Slack, HCM solutions and HRIS systems, and other employee engagement solutions for employee wellness, engagement analytics, etc.

Overall, the sustainability of the R&R program will be the key theme. The ease of accessibility, implementation, and ability to support enterprises and employees during a pandemic will define the capability of the program.

We’re all glad that 2020 and all its uncertainties are behind us. Yet, it proved to be a very valuable experience and impacted our lives in ways that we never expected. The pandemic pushed businesses to adopt a much stronger employee-centric approach and accelerated development plans from a service provider point of view. It also tested the strength of the existing program in serving a demographically spread and physically disconnected workforce. The lessons learned will continue to be a guiding light for product development teams as organizations set new strategies to drive large-scale cultural progress.

Learn more about the future of recognition. Request a demo with Achievers today.