There’s no doubt about it. Things have changed and they’re going to keep changing. The Recognition Council, a strategic industry group of the Incentive Marketing Association
, has just released a paper on the state-of-the-workforce and the tools needed to address the rapid rate of change. The Recognition Revolution: Future Workplace Calls for Creative Thinking, New Strategies, and Bold Moves
makes the case that the changing make-up of the workforce and workplace necessitates a game-changing review of the programs intended to motivate and engage employees.
As the economy of the last several years made it necessary for companies to get lean by reducing permanent on-site staff, reliance on contract workers has increased. Hiring trends show that 20-33% of the workforce is now working on a freelance or contract basis, a dramatic increase from the six % that worked in a contract role in 1989. This means employers face an even greater challenge aligning with and earning the loyalty of workers.
At a time when our understanding of the profound business benefits of employee engagement is on the rise, technology has made distance a workplace reality. Employees work remotely from all over the planet. This construct means that some employees never meet their colleagues – or even their supervisors. It also means that there is risk that employees do not feel connected to the organization and do not benefit from the water-cooler knowledge of company progress and process. This can result in isolation and a lack of engagement or alignment with the organization.
This physical distancing comes at a time when many organizations are already facing record disengagement. Many on-site teammates have seen their job footprints expand and their resources reduce, resulting in apathy or frustration, even while the overall health of the organization may be improving. Off-site workers feel invisible and disconnected.
The Recognition Council recommends taking a hard look at existing engagement programs, including recognition and incentives, to be sure to connect with the new mix of employees in a broad range of circumstances. To better target the actual make-up of the workforce, it may be time to rethink the role of service and referral awards, as well as to improve on retention, recruiting, and on-boarding programs.
Company leaders must increasingly shift their focus to manage the performance and experience of workers in this new landscape. They are now called upon to think strategically and to create the changes within the organization that will allow engagement to occur across distances and disciplines.