The Impact of COVID-19 on Employee Reward & Recognition Programs

The Impact of COVID-19 on Employee Reward & Recognition Programs

The pandemic has affected every business and every employee. When businesses make necessary accommodations and transition employees to a work-from-home environment, it is tempting for companies to focus on the immediate crisis and put employee programs on the back burner. Putting employee programs on hold may be the worst thing businesses can do.

The Incentive Research Foundation has taken a survey of U.S. businesses to determine the impact of COVID-19 on employee reward and recognition programs and found the following:

COVID-19 Impact on Incentive Programs


The good news is that 34% of employee programs continued without much change; another 19% of programs were restructured in response to COVID-19. The 27% that put programs on hold and the 19% that cancelled their programs may regret those decisions later.

Of those that cancelled programs, 31% cited perception concerns from management. Unfortunately, a perception does exist that employee reward & recognition programs are “nice to have” but are not essential. When employee program results are quantified and a clear line is drawn to company performance, employee programs are recognized as a critical business growth strategy.

Why continue employee reward & recognition programs in a crisis?

Leading a company in a crisis requires additional skills. A leader that has already established trust with employees and exceptional communication skills has a leg up. When a clear plan is established and communicated to employees, they understand the role they play and have a direction.

Effective employee reward & recognition programs create goals that align with company objectives. These goals can be amended during a crisis to address specific issues (it looks like 19% of those companies surveyed did just that). When employee programs are structured thoughtfully and intentionally, they are an integral part of performance improvement initiatives. Successful companies do not discontinue employee programs in a crisis; they adjust to the changing environment and focus employee attention on new goals and behaviors.

Because employee reward and recognition programs are a key component of employee engagement strategies, they play an even more critical role in a crisis. It’s more important than ever to make sure that employees feel connected and engaged in an uncertain environment.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your employee programs? Contact one of our Incentive Professionals today to discuss how implementing or amending your reward and recognition program can engage and re-focus your employees.





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