How to rethink reward and recognition in a post-pandemic world

How can HR galvanise its workforce for 2021 if a salary increase is off the table?

How to rethink reward and recognition in a post-pandemic world

As the end of the year approaches, employees would usually be thinking about their salary expectations for the next 12 months.

But after a global pandemic, the usual renumeration discussion is off the table for many businesses across Australia.

So how can HR leaders galvanise their staff for the year ahead without the draw of bonuses and salary increases?

HRD spoke to Katherine Swan, country director at Randstad NZ, about how people leaders can delivery reward and recognition for an increasingly remote workforce.

“Through our research, we've seen that in past years salary and benefits is the number one driver to individuals when they start to look at what attracts them to a new role,” she told HRD.

“However, recently our findings have indicated that job security is also now playing a really important role. For many people it is now the number one driver, whether they're going to change roles or be attracted to looking for a new role.”

After an incredibly uncertain year for many sectors, the minds of employees may have shifted from pay to job security.

This shift is an opportunity for HR to explore what opportunities are available within the business for employees and ensure they feel as secure as possible, Swan said.

“It's really important that employees understand what's open to them, and what they need to do to be able to achieve certain goals and career targets in their current role,” she said.

Read more: The science behind gratitude at work

The discussion of pay increases or removing a freeze on bonuses could become a thorny topic for HR leaders.

So now more than ever, it is important to find other avenues to engage and support employees if financial incentives are not possible.

Those could include flexible working hours, leave arrangements or opportunities for training.

The pandemic has highlighted the need for certain skillsets over others and by offering training, employers could give that sense of security that many workers are craving.

“It's not always just about salary, there may be other things that organisations can offer,” Swan said.

“But I would encourage business or HR leaders to communicate that to their workforce, because what they wouldn't want to be doing is missing an opportunity to communicate what is possible and for the workforce to assume there is nothing available.”

The appetite for upskilling has proven to be a key stand-out of 2020 and looks to continue into next year.

According to a recent survey by Finder, 1 in 4 Kiwis plan to learn new skills to boost their career in the next 12 months.

Career changes and fear of unemployment were the biggest driving factors for those wanting to upskill.

Read more: Deloitte Australia’s head of talent insight talks reward and recognition in a remote world

Swan said training courses are an opportunity for businesses to show their investment in its staff, improving employee engagement and proving it has their long-term career interests at heart.

Aside from future R&R strategies, simply recognising staff and thanking them for their hard work this year is another hugely powerful tool for people leaders.

“We mustn't forget, from a people perspective, that recognition and saying thank you really do go a  long way,” she said.

“At the end of the year, it's about taking time out with your employees and with your teams to thank them for their hard work and the contribution they've made.”

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