With changing employee expectations, organizations need to keep up with what the present employee and the work environment wants and needs from their rewards and recognition systems and processes. Where does AI fit into that equation? How is AI impacting employee rewards and recognition systems that are in place? How can organizations align themselves better to technology that will affect incentive frameworks in the future?
While the work ecosystem may be dynamic and evolving at a speed that is often hard to keep pace with, certain aspects of work do not change. The concept of employee rewards and recognition is one such unchanging aspect that never loses significance despite the blitzkrieg of changes around it.
The systems and processes of rewarding and recognizing employees may undergo some minor (as well as drastic) modification, there may be ample debate on the best practices to follow when it comes to rewarding the people at work and HR teams across geographies and sectors may be utterly divided in their approach to recognizing their human resources. That said, employees will never stop expecting to be rewarded and recognized for their work and organizations will always try to come up with ways to live up to these expectations.
This mutually accepted transaction cycle has been around since the first employer-employee agreement and it is thus safe to assume that no matter the changes that inform the world of work, this cycle would continue into the future.
Reward, Recognize, Engage
The system of rewards and recognition has undergone quite visible changes over the last decade. It has also been visible that the right R&R has the power to drive employee engagement and elevate the employee experience. The target audience at the workplace has changed and the present employee has very different needs, desires and goals than the previous work generations.
What has not changed though is the fact that incentives, rewards and recognition sculpt the perception an employee has of the organization that they works with. The timeless trend of rewarding employees for a job well done and recognizing their contribution has evolved. From being primarily cash or bonus-centric to becoming a lot less tangible and often without a direct financial note to it, today rewards can range from Amazon vouchers to paid holidays to a Netflix or gym subscription. The point is to create, within rewards and recognition schemes, another channel through which the organization can communicate and engage with an employee in a format that is most relatable at the individual level.
Using R&R as an employee engagement tool demands a technological leap. Means and ways of engaging employees (should) have evolved with changes in how we communicate and the extent to which tech has pervaded every aspect of our functioning.
AI today is quickly becoming more than a phase and a fad – it is becoming the norm. Organizations thus need to weave in the AI wave into the tide of change that is sweeping over the HR landscape in general and rewards, recognition and incentive frameworks in specific.
The Rewards of AI – 3 ways AI will Impact Rewards and Recognition
While bearing in mind the context that R&R would always be
en vogue, let’s pause for a moment to regard what Artificial Intelligence (AI) has brought to the table of rewards and recognition and how AI solutions will continue to impact R&R.
1. Personalization v/s individualization
The workplace is multigenerational and dynamic. The expectations from employee experience has changed because just as external customers want brand communications and offerings to speak to them, so do internal customers (employees). AI tools in the guise of friendly chatbots, collaborative robots and even AI teamwork enablers allow deep data mining to make rewards and recognition formats not just personalized but individualized – where they make sense to every employee. AI has also and will continue to modify R&R to make is continued, sustainable, informal and relevant. Even when it comes to simple processes of recognizing an employee across diverse, geographically spread out teams, AI tools can enable and uplift communication.
Thus, AI will allow the shift from generalization to personalization and finally to individualization of rewards and recognition. This will, in turn, enhance the employee experience, improve engagement and create a culture at work where employees feel valued as individuals.
2. Meeting expectations v/s delivering happiness
AI is changing the game with gamification even when it comes to rewards and recognition. This will no longer be a mundane checklist that organizations go through as a compulsion after performance appraisals. With augmented reality changing how work appraisals work, rewards and recognition trends are changing as well. The idea is no longer being able to meet employee expectations but to promote happiness at work. That is a retention strategy that AI is looking through to fruition.
AI also allows the inclusion of the fun quotient in a lot of otherwise monotonous aspects of work. The ability of organizations to exceed employee expectations with technology is important when it comes to retaining talent and making them feel that the organization cares. AI tools have the power to be a lot more engaging and to help R&R make the shift from catering to employee satisfaction to powering employee happiness.
3. Prescriptive v/s predictive
AI and similar new-age technology will make HR processes a lot more engaging. With employee rewards and recognition too, the shift would be from the inherently reactive and prescriptive approach to making appreciation programs a lot more perceptive, proactive and predictive. With AI and engaging, immersive tools, the idea is to bank on data and create experiences that are valuable.
Predictive analytics coupled with AI would also help in projecting future trends in rewards and recognition and understanding how future generations at work would want to be appreciated.
A Culture of Appreciation with AI
With our technological progress and prowess, it is often difficult to differentiate between disruptive and destructive trends. It is thus often best to take a step back and appraise trends before plunging head first into delusional disruption. Likewise with R&R trends on the rise now. While organizations do need to keep up and step up, HR teams need to plan progress in a way that the organization stays true to the culture it wants to promote and propagate.
As AI makes rewards and recognition predictive, individualized and happiness-centric, the core thought needs to remain creating a culture of honest appreciation – a workplace where employees feel valued and motivated. AI tools also have the ability to create more transparent metrics to make appreciation schemes and tools a more open conversation. There are tools that allow employees to participate in nominating and selecting their colleagues who deserve a pat on the back. Organizations preparing to upgrade their employee rewards and recognition practices need to do so keeping in mind the upcoming key trends and the employer brand they wish to promote.