by Alex Palmer | October 01, 2013
While a service award at the five-year milestone used to be standard for employee loyalty program, many companies are recognizing their workers’ service far earlier than that, a new study found. The “2014 Trends Report” on rewards and recognition from Accelir found that after the 2008 recession, many organizations have shifted to offering service awards earlier in an employee’s tenure and creating a “culture of recognition.”

The report, which draws on the responses from human resource professionals from more than 400 companies, found that 91 percent of respondents offered some kind of service award. But with an employee’s average tenure at a company now less than five years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accelir found a growing interest in offering service awards earlier than the traditional five- or 10-year milestone. 

More than two-thirds of respondents (67.3 percent) said they feel that employees should start getting recognized and rewarded for service with their one-year anniversary.

“Even with the reduced length of tenure, companies will need to engage and reward workers,” wrote Sarah White, founder of Accelir and the author of the study. “Early recognition and engagement may give a competitive advantage by allowing employers to retain their employees longer than average.”

Another trend identified by the report, which has gotten a growing amount of attention in recent years, is companies aiming to create a “culture of recognition.” As opposed to traditional annual performance reviews, this approach to incentives emphasizes ongoing recognition tied to specific company goals.

But this shift is being challenged by a lack of support from the company’s corporate leadership. The report found that 44 percent of respondents said their employees do not feel their recognition programs are tied to the organization’s core values. Only 21 percent of HR professionals felt their managers were well trained at providing ongoing recognition.

The third and final trend the report identified is a hesitation to use social media. More than 82 percent of respondents said they do not currently include social media in their rewards and recognition programs.

“Unlike areas such as talent acquisition that have seen rapid upswings in social media use, the trend in rewards is slow uptake,” wrote White. “This is partially driven by the lack of comfort on the part of workers with professional recognition from human resources and corporate leaders on their personal social networks.”

The complete report can be viewed on SlideShare here: