Debi O’Donovan, editor of Employee Benefits: Recognition is the key to secure engagement

Recognition schemes are on the rise. I have spoken to several consultants from different firms over the past month or so, and all have commented on the increasing amount of work they are doing to put employee recognition schemes in place.

We have known since the darkest days of the recession that employee engagement was going to be a key business factor, and now that we are experiencing some growth in the economy, engagement has becoming mission critical.

The job market is warming up (and has been hot in a few sectors for some months), so staff feeling the restrictions of pay freezes and lack of bonuses are keeping a keen eye out for new job opportunities. But there is still time for employers and, more importantly, line managers to rescue the situation if they act wisely. Using good old-fashioned recognition – from the simple “thank you” to a carefully considered gift – is a very powerful motivator when used with sincerity. It might be just the action needed to stay the hand of an employee looking to leave.

It is certainly a much better option than waiting for a resignation letter and then getting into a salary bidding war – an expensive tactic that rarely works.

On the subject of recognition, last month we hosted well over 600 guests at the Employee Benefits Awards. This event is the culmination of the Employee Benefits year – before we take time to draw breath over the summer months.

As always, it was a huge privilege to present employers, such as Whitbread, Unilever, TD Waterhouse and Kent County Council, with awards for the amazing work they do with reward for their staff. All have clear business objectives in offering the benefits they do, and each can show how these are met in precise figures and metrics. And in all cases, the money spent on reward was far exceeded by the return they got for their efforts.

These employers stand as good examples of how clever employers in the UK are maximising employee engagement to help drive their businesses during what is still a relatively tough economic climate.