` REBA Inside Track: How employers are transforming engagement, reward and recognition | Reward and Employee Benefits Association (REBA)
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23 Feb 2022
by Maggie Williams

REBA Inside Track: How employers are transforming engagement, reward and recognition

As businesses adapt to new models of working and shifting employee needs, employee engagement, reward and recognition strategies must also change if they are to remain relevant. In 2021, REBA explored these shifts in our Transforming Engagement series of three research reports, together with Mercer Marsh Benefits.




We have now begun collecting responses for our 2022 research, which will continue to explore key trends related to engagement and business transformation. Everyone that completes the research will receive an advance copy of the report.

Our November 2021 Technology change is business change report explored how shifting business models and employee needs are changing the nature of employee reward, benefits and engagement. Below are four ways that engagement, reward and recognition is transforming to meet new needs.

1. Support business change

According to our research, 42% of respondents expect to see their business models change in the next two years or more. Much of that change will focus on greater use of technology and digitalisation of processes, products and services. For many businesses, those changes will require new skillsets and different talent needs. Benefits, reward, and recognition strategies will all need to change too to meet the shifting expectations of the workforce and recognise a wider range of individual needs. That will affect both the types of benefits employers offer, and the way they are delivered. At present, just over a quarter (27%) said that the digital experience of their benefits offering is on a par with consumer experience.

2. Take a long-term outlook

Last year, we saw bonuses, on-the-spot pay increases and sign-on bonuses used to address labour crises in industries such as logistics and retail. But short-term measures like these can’t change culture, won’t enhance the employee experience – and won’t help to engage and retain workers. However, they could end up skewing remuneration and fair pay principles.

In our research, we saw employers beginning to use benefits such as continuous learning and development to improve engagement and recognise employees’ long-term potential. Read our case study with Ian Peart of Michelin in the Technology change is business change report to find out more about how the road services provider is equipping its people with the skills it needs for the future.

3. Be consistent

Tensions between employee wellbeing and wider reward or recognition strategies are a concern for many employers (we’ll be exploring this in more depth in our annual Employee Wellbeing Research, due out in June). Offering an employee wellbeing strategy that aims to prevent burnout, alongside a recognition policy that rewards long-hours and always-on behaviours, undermines the former and further entrenches the latter. Both wellbeing and recognition (as well as other parts of benefits strategy) should link to company goals and purpose – and how those are delivered.

Almost a quarter (22%) of respondents in our November 2021 research said that they plan to measure employees on work delivered rather than the hours they put in within the next two years.

4. Be timely

Nicola Wells of Unilever explained to us how the global consumer goods provider has been changing its reward strategy to offer smaller bouts of recognition and incremental salary increases to improve employee engagement. It has moved from an annual pay review to open salary reviews, which give multiple opportunities for line managers to reward people in a more timely way.

For more insights in this area, you can find the 2021 Transforming Engagement series on the REBA website:

Part 1: People risk: why the need for change is urgent

Part 2: Aligning corporate culture and human values

Part 3: Technology change is business change

The author is Maggie Williams, content director at REBA.

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