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Rewards and recognition programs don’t match Millennial workforce realities

Organizations are placing too much emphasis on long-service recognition.


OTTAWA — Long-service recognition is the most prevalent type of rewards and recognition program in place in Canadian organizations. However, a new Conference Board of Canada study suggests that these programs may not appeal to younger generations who typically have shorter tenures.

Previous research by the Conference Board has indicated that millennials could have an average of five different employers over a 10-year span. Given this, most millennials would not be at an organization long enough to be eligible for most long-service recognition. This may explain why only 37% of responding organizations agreed that their rewards programs consider the multiple generations in the workforce.

Almost 90% of responding organizations have some type of formal rewards and recognition program in place, with long-service recognition the most prevalent type of rewards and recognition program in place. Only 37% agreed their rewards programs consider the multiple generations in the workforce. And almost 90% of responding organizations have some type of formal rewards and recognition program in place.

In 2016, Canadian organizations spent, on average, $139 per full-time employee (FTE) on rewards and recognition. These programs are more prevalent in the public sector compared to the private sector, however spending on rewards and recognition in the private sector ($161 per FTE) is also almost double that in the public sector ($84 per FTE).

Among these organizations, long-service recognition is the most common at 96%, followed by retirement recognition at 64%. Performance-based rewards and recognition programs, which includes manager-to-employee, peer-to-peer, and corporate recognition are also prevalent. The most common rewards provided as part of peer-to-peer recognition programs are non-monetary such as e-cards or handwritten notes. Just over one-third (37%) of organizations report this is the only type of reward given in their peer-to-peer program.

While long-service recognition is perceived as fair and important for honouring corporate memory and loyalty, one of the major drawbacks of this program is that it becomes difficult to attach to specific accomplishments or contributions when they occur. On average, organizations spend over half their recognition budgets on long-service. However, those that have performance-based recognition report that their employees are more satisfied with their programs.

1 Comment » for Rewards and recognition programs don’t match Millennial workforce realities
  1. M. MIller says:

    Most recognition programs are a reward for good work and to encourage employees to remain with the company. Why reward an employee if they are only going to stay for 2 years? The first 6 months, the employee is learning the job and only then do they start to contribute to the success of the company.

    Why go through the time, effort and costs to recruit and train a new employee if they are going to leave shortly after they become productive? Am I missing something?

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