Author Profile Picture

Jamie Mackenzie

Sodexo Engage


Read more about Jamie Mackenzie

Why employee rewards and recognition are needed now more than ever

Employee recognition has never been more important – we need to motivate our teams to get through this crisis.

Though the coronavirus crisis is starting to show signs of slowing, we’re not out of the woods yet, and the current circumstances are continuing to have a devastating impact on businesses and individuals.

With social distancing measures likely to stay in place for a while yet, and with more people than ever before working from home and separated from their ‘normal’ working lives, it’s understandable that employees are in need of an extra bit of reassurance from those at the top.

When there are so many uncertainties and changing elements for a business to consider, how can employers make sure they’re striking the right balance with their reward strategy?

Getting a rewards platform on point

Finances are likely to be a huge concern for many workers at this time and employers should make sure this is reflected in a rewards scheme – not doing so could look thoughtless. Morrisons’ decision to give staff an extra £1,000 in their paycheque is a great example. This is a particularly generous amount, but a similar impact can be achieved with cost-saving vouchers.

When thinking about the best way to provide vouchers and other rewards remotely, the method needs to be easily accessible for all staff to interact to ensure take up. Keeping benefits and rewards in one place is sensible even if there is a lot of variation in the overall offering, and this can be achieved via an interactive virtual platform.

Since feeling connected in our shared workspace is something most of us are missing right now, it’s especially important to give this customised platform a sense of community, where staff can reward each other or get rewarded collectively.

Through virtual platforms, it’s easy to also share relevant retail vouchers to treat workers, such as discounts on takeaway meals and home streaming, with something for everyone’s tastes.

Going further than the payslip

Financial security and money worries have a big impact on happiness and productivity levels, but engagement is not just about money. It’s also important to recognise the detrimental effect all of this can have on mental health. Workers need to feel valued and invested in by their employer, especially when there could be a question mark over their job security.

Staff mental health needs to be a key priority at the moment. Whilst it is necessary, there’s no shying away from the fact that lockdown has brought about huge lifestyle changes that will affect staff regardless of personality type.

There are also concerns around home working and staff might be increasingly slipping into the habit of staying online well past core hours. To prevent employee burnout, rewards in the form of extra paid time off can definitely help.

For those high performers who are more susceptible to working overtime, surprise them with an additional day of holiday – and encourage them to take it in the current lockdown conditions to fully recuperate.

Business leaders should be aware that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to rewards and recognition. Staff are individuals and they have different needs. If most of a workforce are working parents, allowing flexible hours takes the pressure off home schooling. Perhaps even take a leaf out of Goldman Sachs’ book and make a few days ‘family leave’ available, so families can spend some time together without a parent being harried by work responsibilities.

When done well, non-monetary recognition initiatives will make all the difference to retention well past the current crisis. Staff will be happier, more engaged and more productive as a result.

Communication matters just as much

No rewards package will work without regular and transparent communication from senior leaders in a business.

If an employer needs to say “we’ve lost some business, and so I really need your help getting us back on track”, then say it. This will go down much better than silence from the top, and it’s often more obvious to employees than you might think when things aren’t quite right in a business.

Transparency is key to make sure the gravity of the situation is realised, but also that things don’t get blown out of proportion by the company rumour mill.

Staff mental health needs to be a key priority at the moment. Whilst it is necessary, there’s no shying away from the fact that lockdown has brought about huge lifestyle changes that will affect staff regardless of personality type.

Not being able to sound off with those around your desk means people can feel isolated and tend to build up issues that could easily solved. Although many businesses are understandably unable to spend on training, it’s still worth exploring the idea of a designated mental health first aider.

Making it known that there are people on hand to talk to can make all the difference. Encourage managers to check in regularly with all staff too.

With so much uncertainty, it’s a huge challenge for employers to continue to motivate staff and keep the momentum going through regular rewards.

It’s so easy for engagement to flounder in a crisis situation like the one we currently face, so businesses should take care to not let recognition flat line. Consistently giving a range of rewards supported by a solid benefits offering is the only way forward.

Interested in this topic? Read What does employee engagement look like in these challenging times?

One Response

Author Profile Picture
Jamie Mackenzie


Read more from Jamie Mackenzie

Get the latest from HRZone

Subscribe to expert insights on how to create a better workplace for both your business and its people.


Thank you.

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Subscribe to HRZone's newsletter