How AI Tools Can Boost Employee Engagement and Improve the Rewards and Recognition Process

In a previous blog, I wrote about the exciting potential role of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in the selection and personalization of gifts to employees, clients, and prospects. 

Today, let’s look at the bigger picture – how AI has the potential to be a game-changer in addressing the many challenges around overall employee engagement.

Artificial intelligence is already used in HR for various uses, including recruiting, onboarding, career-pathing, training, performance assessment, and more.

One of the most promising and exciting opportunities for the further use of AI is employee engagement.

Combining the power of AI with employee engagement practices can change the way businesses approach engagement, giving insights into how their employees feel and how their thinking may evolve over time.

With the right structure in place, HR professionals won’t need to spend hours analyzing and interpreting complex data. Using AI will allow them to devote more time to building robust strategies to improve engagement and foster lasting relationships.

AI can be used in many aspects associated with employee engagement, including talent retention through predictive behavior models, identifying training and development opportunities, and in the recognition and rewards arena.

Most HR professionals will agree that handling employee benefits, rewards, and incentives can be tedious. This is where AI can help by making the entire process more efficient and optimize the benefits based on each employee’s performance.

With AI, managers can better understand what incentives will make their workforce more motivated and engaged in their job roles. In addition to increased compensation and monetary bonuses, employees want a work-life balance. So, additional motivation can be achieved with non-monetary incentives like flexible schedules, paid time off (PTO), hobby-related merchandise, or free gym memberships offered at the right time to the right person can have a significant role in driving incremental performance.

In our diverse workplaces, the reward offering is far more likely to miss the mark if it is developed with a “one size fits all” mentality.. As discussed in my earlier blog, AI can help personalize incentives based on each worker’s makeup, thereby making them feel appreciated at work and boosting their engagement. For example, an employee suffering from burnout might benefit more from paid time off than a chance to park in the “employee of the month” parking space in front of the building.

In addition, AI can enhance recognition programs by ensuring inclusivity and fairness. By analyzing performance data without biases, AI helps identify employees who may have been overlooked and ensures that recognition efforts are distributed equitably, promoting a more inclusive and engaged workforce.

If applied correctly, the prospect of AI boosting employee engagement results and recognition and reward programs is truly exciting.

In economic terms, the multiplier effect refers to the proportional increase or decrease in final income that results from an injection or withdrawal of capital. In terms of Safety Reward Programs, the multiplier effect might refer to the ROI² (Return on Incentive Investment). A properly structured program significantly impacts overall employee engagement and safety culture, where employees are attuned to safety-related issues, inspired to display “Above & Beyond” safe behaviors, willing to be safety ambassadors, and encouraged to promote learning and support continuous improvement. Such best-in-class programs are designed to promote group objectives and reward individual behavior, engaging, motivating, and rewarding the people behind your success.

Fortunately, there are thousands of companies in high-risk industries that have excellent safety programming, training, and coaching in place. Many include safety in their list of core values and have invested heavily in EHS (Environment, Health, and Safety) technology, training, telematics, and personnel. However, too many miss the opportunity to incentivize and recognize individual safety contributions, behaviors, and performance.

Programs featuring tangible and experiential awards as the reward currency can have a multiplying effect that pays dividends. Benefits include a more highly engaged workforce, fewer accidents and incidents, reduced claims and losses, lower turnover and absenteeism, better communication, increased productivity, visibility to leading and lagging indicators, incremental coaching and training opportunities, and improved profitability.

So, what’s the rub? Are engagement programs focused on employee safety, health, and wellness expensive to implement? Do they only make sense for companies with thousands of safety-sensitive workers? The answer to both questions is no. Properly structured programs can be cost-effective and right-sized for companies with as few as 100 safety-sensitive workers up to those with 10,000 or more. The ROI² of these programs can be expressed as a ratio (in this case, 4:1), with quantitative results showing a savings of $4.00 for every $1.00 invested and qualitative results revealing higher employee morale, which serves as a catalyst for productivity. Safety Reward Programs help to mitigate risk, elevate employee engagement, and improve overall safety culture. They also present an excellent opportunity for companies to simply say thank you to their employees for being safe, committed, and engaged.

People have an inherent need to know that their efforts do not go unnoticed. Safety Reward Programs provide the stimulus and energy that encourage employees to perform at their best and achieve new heights.

Brian Galonek


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