Align Rewards and recognition (R&R) with employee life-cycle for better results.

Rewards and recognition (R&R) are important levers for an organization. They must help to motivate the employees, recognize and applaud their contributions and help improve bonding and association with the organization. Unfortunately, many organizations imitate industry norms and do not weigh how their R&R system is making a difference in recognizing the superior performance and bonding. Organizations also do not realize the R&R systems must be aligned with the life-cycle needs of the employee. While cash incentives may be highly appreciated at junior level, they alone may not be enough to sustain senior professionals. Crafting rewards transcending multiple generations requires systematic thinking. According to Laura Reeves (2010) worker’s stage of life typically has five stages namely (1) Pre-career stage, (2) Early career stage, (3) Mid career stage, (4) late career stage and (5) encore career stage. Also there exists four generations in today’s workforce. It is critical to sharpen our focus on attracting and retaining this diverse talent base.

Pre career workers are fresher out of college, with lots of hope and exuberance. Many join the worforce as interns, volunteers, or part time employees. Early career workers are those who embark on their careers with limited experience in a chosen field. For example a college graduate or a stay at home parent entering the work force for the first time. Mid career workers are those who make critical career decisions like shifting priority from career to family after two or three roles in an organization or sector, frequently before moving from one job to the next. These people have held four to six career roles and vary widely in organizational levels, from manager to VP. Late career professionals are those who have moved among multiple organizations or have been employed long term with one organization. They are likely to remain with their current organizations. Generally, individuals in this stage are nearing optional retirements or traditional retirement age. Encore career stage workers are those whose priority is to make a social impact, rather than build their credentials or maximize their income.

The question in red is that “what do employees need at various stages of their career and what must companies offer?”   Rewards such as spot recognition, post –it, certifications, awards from other organizations, volunteer tree (recognize volunteer by planting a sapling in their name) could be given to pre career stage workers.

Rewards such as Bonus, field visit to other countries, training and development, attending workshops/ conferences and public recognition for deserving workers, signature products(like bags or accessories non profit’s logo), participation in campaigns could be given to early career stage workers.  Rewards like educational opportunities, T&D, flexi time, attending workshops, allocation of special project /responsibilities, decision making participatory, public recognition, exposure to media, financial planning services, participatory decision making, providing long term career prospects could be given to mid career stage workers. Rewards such as pension, decision making, flexi time, education opportunities for their children could be given to late career stage workers.

Few rewards have low cost, high engagement and have appeal across multiple career stages, such as Coaching, Empowering culture, parking spaces, Incentive compensation, subsidized meals/clothing, housing allowance, flexi time, peer to peer reward and wellness. Companies must employ the complete set of R&R systems to attract and retain a diverse work force.

S Indu Priya and Dipna Ramdas

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