Most businesses are now putting much greater emphasis on the concept of individualisation in their employee motivation and reward programmes, according to research from the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF). This article is copyright 2012 The Best Customer Guide.

The foundation's latest executive briefing report, entitled '2012 Trends in Rewards and Recognition', found that several trends have grown in recent months, shaping the near-term development of employee reward and incentive offers. For example, among the specific trends observed were:

  1. Personalisation
    An increasing use of gift cards and award elements that allow employees to do their own discounted shopping during the redemption process.
  2. Participation
    Greater usage of non-cash incentive programmes that increase wellness participation by 26% to 90%, returning more than US$3 for every US$1 invested.
  3. Convenience
    The integration of mobile applications into all phases of incentive programme communications to help keep employees feeling 'connected' at all times.

"We reviewed both our own trends data and a host of other leading sources to determine the implications for the incentive and recognition industry," explained IRF president Melissa Van Dyke. The IRF's findings actually revealed a dozen trends, some of the highlights of which include:

  • Fast HR
    The most significant observation is the unprecedented rate of change that will pave the way for more flexible approaches and faster responses to the management of people. Reward and recognition programmes have a key role in Fast HR because they can be quickly recalibrated to meet employee needs faster and with greater ease and precision than conversional compensation structures.
  • Get into 'Gamification'
    Incorporating the principles of game design into the structure of reward and recognition programmes and meetings will be a key trend in 2012 and beyond.
  • We're all marketers
    Recent research has confirmed that people - through their actions and their attitudes - play a significant role in maintaining the value of the brand. As service becomes the 'killer app', aligning employee behaviour through rewards has increased its importance in reducing customer defections and optimizing their lifetime values.
  • It's time to repair cultures
    Deep cost cutting during the earliest days of the recession along with reduced resources has damaged the cooperative nature of some workplaces. With up to 74% of the work force open to considering a new job, organisations need to recapture the cultural conditions that made them the 'employer of choice'.
  • Virtual workplaces
    More than 75% of businesses use some form of social networking to connect their people, so they need to ensure all technology-based reward and recognition programmes are integrated into social media sites.
  • Role convergence
    Role convergence is causing the average worker to do more work and put in more unpaid time. Organisations also expect more from their technologies. Efficiency is a big driver of effectiveness. Applications in the incentive industry must be easy to implement and integrate seamlessly into the organisations workflow.
  • Corporate social responsibility
    Sustainability has reached a tipping point in business with most organisations considering it in their strategy. Planners and practitioners alike need to ensure programme components are in line with their corporate values and initiatives.