by Roy Saunderson | December 03, 2013

Watch out for an exciting year in the rewards and recognition industry in 2014. Recognition technologies and social media will continue to converge. Employees will push for greater social responsibility and ways to be more emotionally connected to companies. Businesses will struggle with the social media influx and employee expectations, but they will benefit once they use recognition data to identify right connections to people, performance, and better business decisions. 

Gleaned from technology, marketing and social economic indicators these Top 10 Trends for 2014 will be a great guide.

1. Recognition will be more integrated into company experience. Social networking is used with recruiting, branding, and other areas. Recognition technology will also be utilized to welcome and orient new employees, and empower them to initiate giving versus getting recognition. Recognition can help reinforce people living the corporate culture and thereby attract and retain the best employees to an organization. Link everything to recognition.

2. Mobile is, and will continue to be, the platform. With more than 162 million mobile phone internet users and 140 million tablet users in the U.S., vendors must ensure all recognition platforms are fully accessible on mobile devices. This is an opportunity to properly message, brand, educate, and communicate the power of recognition and effectively engage employees. Design recognition for mobility.

3. Differentiation is open to the most innovative companies. Emerging technologies and innovative thinking are poised to transform the recognition industry. Metrics can drill down to specific industries; creativity will flourish with customized individual and branded packaging; connectivity will ensure greater accountability to do recognition right. What will your differentiator be?

4. Social good is an important vehicle for giving. Many employees donate the financial value of rewards received to making a difference in the world. Expect a surge of interest by employees in donating to micro-funding and grassroots-sponsored project organizations like Kiva, GlobalGiving, Charity:water, and more. When you do, they’ll feel their acknowledged workplace contribution is making a worldwide personal contribution. 

5. Get ready for better emotional connection. Recognition data provides essential information to allow managers and employees to learn how to better connect and engage emotionally with one another. Living the company values can be dynamically appreciated through personalized recognition such as individual messaging from senior leaders as well their immediate managers.

6. Social media will spread the good news. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are already used to share employee recognition acknowledgments and experiences. Now, newer social media sites like Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, and Instagram are used by businesses to disseminate social information inside and out. Use these newer social mediums to enhance the recognition experience.

7. Watch out for the implications of greater interactivity. Companies will experiment using QR codes on gift packaging or awards to create an ongoing interactive communication element. Through this and similar technology recognition will become a two-way feedback tool allowing immediate online feedback on how the recognition or event was perceived by the receiver.

8. Video will be a powerful communicator of recognition. Video is already being used for interviewing, training and other corporate communications and they’re viewable on nearly every electronic device. Digital video viewers continue to increase and are estimated at 190 million in the U.S. Conveying recognition by video will replace the text dominated delivery of recognition once video can be imbedded with, or accompanied by, data identifying information.  

9. Stop transacting rewards and start inspiring people. Companies are often stuck in the reward paradigm while employees gravitate to more meaningful social recognition platforms. Employees desire purposeful work with meaning. Companies must do better at connecting the dots and adding more inspiration and motivation via their online recognition platforms and communications.

10. Real-time analytics will help go deeper. Data rich recognition activity will give insights and better understanding of the givers of recognition, manager or employee, as well as information about the recipients and their recognized behaviors. These essential insights will allow companies to better connect and engage emotionally with their people and make better workplace decisions.

Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is author of Giving the Real Recognition Way and is the Chief Learning Officer of the Rideau’s Recognition Management Institute, a consulting a training company which helps leaders and managers get recognition right. He can be reached at [email protected] Also, tune in every Tuesday to his radio show, Real Recognition Radio.