How To Lead Employee Recognition Into The Future

You and your organization’s leaders must shape the future of your recognition programs and practices by learning how to anticipate the future instead of always reacting to it.

By thinking ahead futuristically you can plan to take steps that change your recognition programs to become the very best.

Here’s what you and your leaders must do to create better recognition for the future.

Learning to Read the Latest Trends

I am referencing Daniel Burrus’ book, The Anticipatory Organization. He is a futurist, author and speaker, and through his work I will provide you with ways to read the different trends that can affect your recognition programs. His insight suggests we can all anticipate the future.

Your goal is to anticipate the future of the recognition programs and recognition practices at your organization. By learning how to do this you can:

  • Anticipate disruptions to recognition programs before they happen.
  • Prepare for problems with your recognition programs before they occur.
  • Jump on game-changing opportunities with recognition programs right away.

Burrus theorizes that if you fail to anticipate you will be less relevant and you will find yourself falling behind every year with things like your recognition programs and practices.

He calls some societal trends hard trends and others soft trends.

Hard trends are defined as an event that will happen and are based on a future fact or future certainty. Burrus has created three primary categories to group hard trends under, namely, Technology, Demographics, and Government Regulations.

In contrast, soft trends are an event that may happen, and are based on assumptions, and is open to influence.

He identifies two types of assumptions with soft trends.

  1. Hard Assumptions: these are well researched and are derived from credible data and sources.
  2. Soft Assumptions: are derived from our past experience, a gut feeling, or instinct.

Applying Trends So You Can Anticipate the Future

Let’s take a look at how you can use these different trends to anticipate what’s coming down the pike with your recognition programs.

From a Technology framework keep in mind that 90% of the global population is covered by mobile broadband networks so many people from around the world now have wireless Internet. And 70% of global population will have access to smartphones. Smartphone subscriptions will more than double by 2020, reaching 6.1 billion. Almost 80% of these new subscriptions will come from Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

Your recognition programs must become more mobile whether responsive design or via apps.

What about the increased use of artificial intelligence (AI)?

By disrupting your recognition programs with AI, you will be able to:

  • Help your recognition programs think like human beings by drawing upon available online recognition program data and HRIS data to predict engagement and performance measures.
  • Or what about using AI to help personalize content that goes out to managers to recommend who should be recognized, what reward items specific people like most, or who is at risk of leaving the organization.

From a demographics perspective this hard trend would help you to know that Generation Z is less interested in cool products than they are about having cool experiences. They’re not as keen as older generations with unique product items. You can anticipate what merchandise or experiences to reward your employees with by looking carefully at the demographics of your workforce.

Trends Affecting Recognition Already

Check out the Technology example of the domination of video over text on major social media channels.

Why not disrupt your recognition programs with video?

You are probably seeing how recognition programs are slowly becoming more video based since as humans we are very visual beings. This allows recognition to mirror the more natural face-to-face recognition we prefer most.

And what about how you educate managers and staff alike to give more meaningful recognition? Video based content and microlearning modules are a great way to give bite sized learning content that drills down to teach specific recognition behaviors.

Responsive design is another technology that has already made access to recognition programs on employee smartphones.

The next logical disruptive step will be wearables. A smartwatch is a wearable computer in the form of a wristwatch. These modern smartwatches provide a touchscreen interface for daily use, while an associated smartphone app provides for management of recognition programs and telemetry.

Looking at soft trends and their impact on recognition you can look at the increasing costs of healthcare and you can safely assume these costs will continue to rise but that fact is not an absolute so it can’t be a hard trend.

What could you assume and disrupt the rising healthcare costs by using a rewards and recognition program?

One thing you could do is reward individuals and teams with education or resources using monetary credits whenever they recommend and successfully implement cost or time saving initiatives. You could also set up an annual recognition award program for submission of nominations for the most innovative healthcare project producing cost reduction.

Creating the Future of Recognition

Your goals is to get ahead of the game and anticipate the future of recognition by working on the following three future gamechangers.

  1. Focus on transforming the future of recognition and move beyond what other organizations are already doing with their great recognition programs. Strive to work on the best next practices versus best practices.
  2. Focus on seeing new opportunities for your recognition programs and not being distracted by what you have been doing in the past. Stop and reflect on what you would like to start doing with recognition and create a possibility wishlist.
  3. Look at the Hard Trends of Technology, Demographics, and Government Regulations, that are shaping the future of society and see what impact these different events could have on recognition programs.

Develop the ability to read the trends and act on what you see and know which will benefit recognition practices and programs in your organization.

Recognition Reflection: How can you build in reflection time to anticipate the future of your recognition practices and programs?

Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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